Henri has been visiting us for a week. At six-and-a-half, he is the youngest of my five grandchildren (Lee has seven grandchildren), and has been a powerful reminder of what it is like to be a child. With serious instructions from his mother not to let him “sit in front of the television all day,” he’s gone to children’s museums, kid movies (that’s okay, as long as you don’t do it too often), the library, out for ice cream, to the store for a new, very complicated Legos set and on visits to friends who also have grandchildren.
We’ve also encouraged him to read and to do nothing. Last night “nothing” involved sitting on the back porch during a strong rain and watching him thrust first an arm, then two arms, then a leg and then pop down a step right into the rain – all to great delight on his part and ours. He was just being a kid without benefit of batteries or electricity, other than what a distant lightning bolt provided.
And this morning he and I head for the airport, the first time I’ll travel with a child in more than four decades. It’s so different now than it was in the sixties. He’s wearing slip-on shoes, and when he asked why he has to take them off, I told him it was to make sure he wasn’t hiding a bomb in his shoes. He spread his hands wide, his expression for disbelief, laughed and said, “A kid with a bomb! That’s funny.”
Back then my children traveled with a couple of books, a doll and crayons and a couple of coloring books. Today my carry-on holds Henri’s first skateboard (bought with his fifteen-year-old twin cousins who gave him his first lessons), a collection of Legos and, most important, the directions that go with them, and enough electronic equipment to stock a small store. We were careful to charge his small DVD player so he can watch a movie while we fly. For this small boy, normal life includes an awesome collection of cables.
He also has his own wallet with money he’s earned gardening with GranLee and working for his Uncle John and Aunt Cami during his week with them. His mother and Aunt Cami traveled for years with their parents as their only identity; Henri has his own ID card that we’ll show so he can be properly ticketed.
There is another difference I can’t confirm. Henri has been away from home for three weeks. That’s a very long time for a small boy. While he’s had a few teary moments here and there and has eagerly talked to his parents each night and has told them how much he misses them, and how much he misses Georgia, he has been a gracious and loving visitor. He doesn’t whine, wheedle or weep. He is quite an amazing little boy and he’s been a terrific guest.
And like all of us when we’re ready for out own bed after a long time away from home, Henri was up early this morning and wanted to know what time we’d head for the airport. We’re off as soon as I finish this and get us dressed and out the door. His parents are as eager to have him back as he is to go.
Lyn May is Henri's grandmother and WWN's Post Master