Lucy Jensen

It was time for Easter vacation, and that hadn’t meant much for a while in this household, not having school age kids anymore. We had pledged to take our granddaughter for a few days, give her parents a break, allow her to run wild in the countryside for a while away from the big city of Sacramento, where they live. I had even gathered the makings of an Easter basket for her. Go me!

Though our girl is a long way away from her toddler days, when you had to always have an eye on the disappearing munchkin and fly feet to catch her, you do forget how demanding a young person can be when they are under your watch for a few days. It’s a big job.

“Say please and thank you!” You repeat that several times a day. “Did you wash your hands? Go do it.” Another 10 of those. “Where are your shoes?” We topped that at 15 asks. “Put your helmet on!” Another 15. Absolutely exhausting! After four days, I was practically on my knees, and we still had three to go.

One area where I failed rather miserably, however, was that I had planned nothing for her to do, except hang out on the ranch (and enjoy — very much — riding with her grandpa on Ringo, the quad and visiting with the baby goats). I hadn’t organized a trip to the beach or the movies. My efforts to clinch a play date with the neighbor’s daughter didn’t seem to be happening. I started looking — properly looking — at the local paper for ways to entertain a 7-year-old during Easter week and lo and behold, there were things to do!

“Ah, children’s theater, now there’s something!” Remembering how our mother would always take us to live theater, I thought this might open up a whole new world for her. I booked tickets to “The Little Mermaid” down in King City at the Robert Stanton Theater. “We are going to the theater, dear!” I tell her. “The movie theater?” she responded, and I then realized that she had never been to live theater before, and this was going to be a special event for all of us.

“Real people on a stage, like actually in front of you, not on the screen?” Yes, that. She seemed very excited. “Will there be popcorn?” Umm, no, but I believe you can buy cookies during the intermission. “Intermission, what is that?” Oh, this girl had a lot to learn about the theater-going experience.

The performance was extremely delightful, and, through her impeccable knowledge of the movie theater version, Madison knew all the songs, which she proceeded to sing at the top of her voice throughout the play. I tried to shush her a few times, but then, since it didn’t seem to make the darndest bit of difference — she was that entranced — I stopped and let her just go with her flow. Our neighbors in the seats nearby were just chuckling at her and her enthusiasm did not seem to put a dampener on their enjoyment.

It was such a hoot. Her brown eyes were sparkling with joy at her first steps into this very magic world. “We’ll have to take her to see the outdoor theater in Carmel next time she comes,” I told husband. I realize that precious memories are made exactly just like that. We stepped out of the theater awoosh with sensation — the music, colors, dancing, acting — a happy sensory feast for sure. (Thank you, Sol Treasures and Director Jeff Hinderscheid, for ensuring that we have local culture on our doorsteps!)

“You should take your granddaughter downtown. There’s an Easter celebration going on for the kids,” my neighbor tells me. Why had I not noticed that previously? I proceeded to take Madison downtown. We had missed the egg hunt, but she still got to enjoy some arts and crafts and received the most splendid tiger face painting I’ve ever seen. Thanks, Soledad Park and Rec and the Lions Club for hosting that! I will definitely pay more attention to local events the next time she comes to stay.

These are some lovely benefits of living in a small country community. Super safe fun and entertainment for our children like this needs to be supported, and I apologize for not recognizing that to the fullest extent this time around. I can blame my age, Covid or whatever; but I shall remedy my ways in future and show up more often.

My neighbor’s daughter finally came over to play, and they had a lovely time reconnecting and eating dinner together. I shall plan that better too on another occasion and perhaps introduce her to other kids in the neighborhood. Even though we might be the coolest grandparents on the planet, there is nothing like playing with kids your own age. I get that.

Easter comes along and my egg hunt was ready to go. It had been a while since I had done one of those too. Luckily, I had numbered the chocolate filled eggs, or we would have likely discovered a nasty mess sometime down the road. She had a lot of fun doing that on the property, finding pink eggs mixed in with the real eggs in Chickingham Palace, also the odd diamond-crusted tiara and pink monkey, without which it would just be a plain old Easter basket with chocolate eggs in it.

I’m sure when our little blessing got home to Sacramento she had several traveler’s tales under her belt, plus the odd anecdote about real people being involved in live theater and what intermission actually means. She might also tell about the stories we read — to each other — and the science experiment she did with grandpa. She will undoubtedly share her adventures on Ringo with her daredevil dad and how she got to pet Delilah and Romeo (cows), as well as Napoleon, Meatloaf, Rosie and Harlequin (goats).

She told me she loved Sally (the pig) because she was so big and cuddly, also Mary (the horse) because her coat was so silky. She simply “love loves” Cat Dog because he lets her carry him everywhere, even though he’s super chunky. She made me think all over again about Solace through a child’s eyes and how that is likely a story that needs to be written up.

Our Easter basket was very full this year. So full, her grandparents’ limbs were jelly after she vacated the premises, and it took a while for us to recover. But, as they say, it was worth it, totally worth it, and we will do even better next time.

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Soledad columnist Lucy Jensen may be reached at [email protected].


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