Sunday, April 18, 2021

Busy household is about to get quiet again

| September 27, 2020 12:00 AM

The last two months have been a blur because my younger daughter and soon-to-be 5-year-old granddaughter — plus their two large Akitas — have been staying with us while my son-in-law hauled all their belongings to Houston, started a post-doc position at Baylor College of Medicine, found them a place to live and survived two tropical storms that forced him to seek higher ground for their Subaru. (Nothing has been easy this year.)

Now the time has come for him to retrieve his family. They’ll all be headed south in another week or so in their other Subaru, with the dogs, and my husband and I will return to our rather silent pandemic repose.

Having family here for so long has been a blessing in this otherwise dismal 2020, and we’re going to miss them. It’s given us valuable time to get to know our granddaughter, and what kind of a grandma would I be if I didn’t share a few priceless gems from Marlena, who has charmed her way into our hearts like no other earthly being.

On the very first day at our house, Marlena was sitting outside on the front steps as the sun went down, and I reminded her it was soon bedtime.

“Grandma, you know I love all things nocturnal,” she told me as she waited for sundown.

Having a scientist dad and a mom with an early childhood education background has produced a well-rounded and wise-beyond-her-years child. In short, the kids knows stuff.

When she told her mother recently that the male platypus can shoot out poison — and her mother gently questioned it — well, Mom had to eat a little crow on that one. When they googled their child’s assertion, they found that, indeed, the male platypus is one of the few venomous mammals and has poison glands in the thighs and a hollow spur near the heel.

One day, Marlena composed an impromptu song about carbon dioxide, singing in her best voice: “There’s an air, and it’s called carbon dioxide. The plants breathe it in and we breathe it out, and that’s how we help the earth…”

Of course I’m prone to shameless bragging, but that’s not bad for a 4-year-old.

Beyond her extensive knowledge of the natural world, Marlena has always seemed wise beyond her years. At dinner one evening, as she ate my homemade applesauce (one of her favorite foods), she wondered, “Grandma, what’s your secret to this recipe?” Another time she sampled something we were whipping up for supper, and she pondered: “Seems like it’s missing an ingredient...”

But there’s plenty of “kid” in her, too. I’ve been forced to learn the names of all of the Paw Patrol characters and have been enlightened by cartoons such as “Doc McStuffins” and “Molly of Denali.”

Four (“Grandma, I’m four and a half…”) is a delightful age, when curiosity is at its finest, meltdowns come and go and snuggles are simply priceless.

And so it is, I’m already planning my first trip to Texas in a few months. I’ve told them to get a “granny pod” ready — this old journalist isn’t that far from retirement.

News Editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or