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|Sat, 10-09-1999 - 1:25pm|
There once was a young girl named Robin. Robin lived in the country in a quaint little house with her Mother and Father. Her grandparents lived beside them, in another tiny white house, just like theirs. Much farther down the windy gravel lane were other little white houses, all similar to hers. Aunts and uncles and grown up cousins lived in those bungalows. There were no other no other children living on Robin's road.
With no playmates to chase in a rousing game of tag, or no other little girls to invite to tea parties, Robin was forced to pass the hours with nothing but her imagination. She had invented the cleverest friends to keep her company in the long hours while Mother and Father were at work.
Mother or Gramma would sometimes take her into the town to play at the park when they weren't too busy. Her imaginary friends were very much like the real children she sometimes seen at the playground. She would squint her eyes shut very tight, then, Poof! , Robin would be surrounded with the happy chatter of little friends. Her make believe friends were even better than the ones on the playground. They always shared the swing and thought her ideas were the best. They never teased her about being clumsy, and they especially never called her chubby.
Mother and Father would kiss her goodbye in Gramma's kitchen each morning as they left for work. Mother always said "Be a good girl today, little bird. Have an exciting adventure."
After breakfast, Robin would stuff a few cookies into her little jumper's pocket then slip out the kitchen door. She would go off looking for an exciting adventure to tell Mother about after supper in the evening. She and her friends would have terribly exciting adventures. Each night Robin could hardly wait to Mother about all the wonderful things they had done.
Like the time they had disturbed the ferocious dragon who lived under Gramma's rosebed. It had taken all morning to find his lair. Digging underneath those prickly flowers had been such a chore. They nearly gave up. What fun it had been to see that sleeping dragon though! Their brave efforts had been worth it. Right up until Robin sneezed, anyhow. The dragon woke up with a horrible yawn that shook the world clear to China. She and her little band of explorers had to run fast for safety. Gramma came out to tell her lunch was ready just as they reached the sacred apple tree. (Dragons cannot climb, or fly over, apple trees.) Gramma scolded her for the millionth time about playing in the tree as she rescued the little girl.
Father began to speak at dinner that night, before Robin could describe how beautiful the dragon was, and how brave she had been. He frowned as he asked how the rosebush had suffered so much damage that day. His frown grew even larger, until both eyebrows touched together, as Robin retold the great adventure. Father sent her to bed early that night. When Mother came to tuck her in, she smiled sweetly and kissed her softly on the cheek.
"Little bird, try not to get into such a mischievous adventure tomorrow.", Mother whispered in a singsong voice.
That's how most of Robin's days were spent; in great adventures that ultimately landed her into the dungeon of her bedroom, when the evening sun was still teasing for playtime. Gramma and Father rarely seen the excitement of chasing dragons or giants. They seen only the messes left afterwards. Robin knew Mother understood that adventures were untidy affairs, but she was helpless to rescue her from the punishment doled out by Father.
Suppertime was happier on the days that Robin and her friends had found no great adventure, or maybe had only been involved in a tiny bit of exploring. On those days they would all talk and laugh together while they ate. After the dessert dishes were cleared, Robin wouldn't have to go to her room, which made her very happy. She would ask Mother to read her a story from her favorite book of fairy tales.
"Not right now, little bird" Mother would smile. She was too busy cleaning the supper dishes. Robin would tote the heavy book to her father, seated in his favorite chair.
"I can't read a story just now" He would smile. He was busy reading the paper and learning everything a father must know about the world. Sadly, Robin would close her story-book and slip out the front door.
The little girl would be filled with sadness past her big shiny eyes. She would be too sad to squeeze her eyes shut, bringing life to the make-believe band of adventurers. Those evenings, Robin's little feet always carried her in the direction of her grandparent's cottage.
Once inside Robin would grab a cookie as she passed through the kitchen. Gramma would be standing at the sink washing her supper dishes. Gramma would smile and ask her ' what's the long face about little bird'. Shrugging her tiny little shoulders, Robin would smile as she shuffled by.
Grampa always sat in his special chair after the evening meal. He too would pass the time reading a newspaper, like Father, learning about the world. Grampa was never present during the day. Robin didn't know how a grandfather spent daytime's hours, but whatever importance they did, it was almost always out of sight. Just as suddenly as they vanished after breakfast though, they always reappeared just in time for dinner every night.
Robin had discovered that Grampas didn't need as much time to learn about the world from a newspaper as fathers had to have. It seemed that when the little girl with the long face would make an appearance at the foot of his chair, he had already had the right amount of time to learn everything he needed. Robin thought this because he always smiled down at her and folded the paper when she touched his knee.
Grampa knew just the thing to make her smile. He would swoop her up with his big, strong arms into his lap. They would share his special pink peppermint candies, hidden on his stand. He would do the silly things that only Grampas seemed to do, such as puffing his cheeks full of air until they looked ready to explode. He would then press his puckered up lips onto her cheek, allowing the escaping air to tickle her face. Gramma would smile and make a 'tsk-tsk' sound at the hilariously loud noise that always made.
Robin's favorite thing happened after their bellies were full of peppermint candies and her cheeks were quite sticky from the bullfrog kisses. The old man would place the child back onto the floor as he stood. Grinning down at her he'd grab both small hands and guide her little feet onto the top of his slippers. The most wonderful thing would begin.
With her feet on top of his, they would dance. There would be no music, except for the music playing in Robin's wonderful imagination. As they glided over the living room floor, then down into the hallway the music grew louder. Slowly the faded carpet and the light green walls of the little cottage faded away. They were dancing in a glistening ballroom. It was large and grand like the ballrooms of her fairytales. She was a beautiful princess being guided across the floor by a grand king or a dashing prince. Grampa and Robin would laugh. Gramma would make more 'tsk-tsk' sounds as she smiled.
Robin grew bigger, as all children do. There came a day when it was too difficult for Grampa to swoop her into his lap. Instead she would sit in a chair next to his while helping him eat his pink candies. They would still dance, on occasion, until Robin grew too large for dancing.
As the years passed on, it seemed that Mother had more time for stories. Robin was old enough to help her mother with supper dishes, allowing them to spend time playing together. It seemed Father must have learned to read faster too, because there were nights when he had more time to play also.
Robin's feet didn't carry her to the little house where her grandparents lived very often as she became older. She didn't eat peppermints too often with Grampa. And it seemed that suddenly Grampa had many things to learn about the world. When she would stop in for a brief visit, he wouldn't fold the paper away most nights. Instead he would sit it aside for a minute, or two, but would in the end pick up reading where he had left off.
The little girl's years passed happily by. She went to school with real friends, and no longer could remember the names of her imaginary pals. At an older age, she went to dances in the big school. The dances weren't in fancy ballrooms, and there certainly were no kings to be found, but they were magical all the same.
The little girl grew up. She had a husband and children of her own. They lived in a big town with many children in their neighborhood. Robin's children had many adventures, with real children. Her children's escapades made her smile, even when her husband had to send them off to their rooms early.
Sometimes in the evening, after supper dishes were done, she would sit in her favorite chair remembering her own adventures. She would smile a secret smile to herself at the thought of the mischief one little girl could find. She would remember the names of her make believe friends. She would remember the dragons and the giants, but mostly she would remember the ballroom dances and the peppermints.
Full of memories of her loving childhood, Robin would dance across the carpeted floor. When one of her curious sons would peep his head into the living room to discover what the singing was about, she would grab the tiny hands into her own. Using his hands to guide him, she'd place his tiny feet on top of her slippers. They would glide together, laughing or singing through the ballrooms of her childhood.
Those evenings were her favorites.