I took advantage of the good weather we’ve been having and set off on a road trip to Salem last week to visit my granddaughter. I hadn’t seen Kayla since we celebrated her second birthday in early November, and I needed my fix. No one can make me feel like that little girl can.
With multiple sets of grandparents and great-grandparents, along with three doting uncles, Kayla has never lacked for toys. She commandeers an arsenal of them in every shape, color, size and learning category.
After I arrived Thursday afternoon Kayla overturned a bucket of Legos and began the process of building a tall structure. Legos were scattered all over the floor but I didn’t mind. I enjoyed watching her choose her colors and shapes and couldn’t help but imagine how exciting it would be if she became an architect. I’ve always said we need more women designing spaces in order to get our kitchens and closets right.
Fortunately, Kayla’s mom, a first-grade teacher, has taught her Pavlovian conditioning. As soon as we start singing, “Clean up, clean up,” Kayla puts away whatever it is she’s playing with. It worked when she got bored with the Legos and wanted a different toy, the one Gabby (her current name for me) had in her pocket.
My friend Deanie’s grandchildren came to see her for Thanksgiving. She told me that 2-year-old Vivianna kept busy with her mother’s iPhone while 3-year-old Bodhi played games and watched videos on his dad’s iPad.
“What next?” I thought. I remember about 15 years ago when my girlfriend bought her then 9-year-old daughter a laptop and I thought that was over the top.
My son and daughter-in-law don’t allow Kayla to play with their cell phones. It was I who first showed Kayla the wonders and magic that reside inside my little Android several visits ago.
“Phone?” she asked. “See it?”
Perhaps it’s because the phone’s operating system is so logical and the icons self-explanatory, but it didn’t take Kayla more than a few minutes to figure out how to view my phone’s photo album. The album has about 1,300 photos including dozens of Kayla taken over the last six months.
She loved brushing her finger from side to side to keep the slide show moving and was thrilled to see photos of Mommy, Daddy, Papa, Puppy and Kayla herself.
If the slide show stopped she held the phone up to me and said, “Fix it, Gabby.” When I gave her “the look” she repeated herself, “Fix it, Gabby, puh-leez!”
By Friday she discovered that tapping the camera icon engaged the phone’s camera and she started taking pictures. She giggled as she aimed at my foot and hit the button. “Gabby toes,” she laughed.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t successful in teaching her “hold it steady” and all of her first photographs are blurry. “Fix it, Gabby,” she said. But I couldn’t. Staying perfectly still is a very difficult concept to explain to a 2-year-old and there’s no de-blurring tool.
Like Lego architecture, cell phone photography is one more educational building block in Kayla’s life. She probably won’t become an architect or a photographer. Her fate is not sealed at the ripe age of 2. And that’s what makes watching her grow so glorious for me. Gabby knows there are endless adventures and experiments ahead — so many paths to explore and choices to make. Gabby wants to be there to encourage and explain. And I want to be able to help when she asks and “fix it” if I can and when it’s right. This is my joy.
Reach Michele Thomas, the Del Norte Triplicate’s publisher, at firstname.lastname@example.org, 464-2141 or stop by 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.