My younger daughter and her husband moved into their present home when my older grandson was an infant.
On the day of the move, I was among the designated baby-holders, leaving his mother free to point at the movers as they carried boxes and furniture into the house.
"Upstairs front!" "Dining room!" "Upstairs back!" my daughter would say. She was really good at this, incidentally. I'd have needed 15 minutes per load to think. "Well, that was downstairs, but it could go upstairs," I'd ruminate, tapping my teeth with a finger as the young men holding the 7,000-pound bookcase shifted feet. This daughter probably could arrange truckloads of furniture in houses all over the country without ever stepping away from the back door.
We knew, of course, that this one-time farmhouse, now an anomaly in a suburban neighborhood, had the added advantage of being just one block from the public library.
"A block from the library!" I told my husband, as I might have said, "Next door to Tom Hanks!" Of course, at that point the idea of this grandson walking to the library was as fantastic as imagining him walking to the Great Barrier Reef, since he had only recently discovered his toes.
Now let's visit my 6-year-old granddaughter, another longtime library patron. Her house is liberally decorated in library books. (Pinterest should have a home-accessory category called "biblio-eclectic.") Some people are animal-whisperers; my granddaughter is a book-sniffer. Every book is deeply inhaled before we read it. I don't know what she derives from the ritual, not being a book-sniffer myself, but I imagine it's like Harry Potter's ability to talk to snakes: It'll help her in the end.
All this brings us to today's news: First, my older grandson has his own library card. Just before he started first grade, he and his mother went to the library -- a mere block from their house! -- where they presumably agreed to the listed responsibilities of cardholders, and my grandson was issued his card.
Meanwhile, my granddaughter, fresh from a Montessori preschool and kindergarten, is enrolled in a French immersion school. Oui, vous heard that correctement. Come le printemps, my petite-fille will be speaking French like Emmanuel Macron.
I studied French in high school. (Well, I took French. I forfeited the right to say "studied" the day I wrote Paree on the chalkboard. The teacher actually groaned.)
I do know how to spell Paris, by the way. I knew then, too, but nerves got the better of me. Nerves have gotten the better of me all my life. At this point, I'm willing to concede and hand nerves the win, but apparently that's not allowed. I call it running up the score.
But I do know some French, and I look forward to sharing various words and phrases with my granddaughter: le chien, le lit, le livre, je suis une grandmere qui ne parle pas francais, and so on.
Of course, it will be no time before I experience a next-generation version of what happened last century, when I started running and my older daughter -- this granddaughter's mama, then an eighth-grader -- 1) declared running the world's most boring activity; 2) took up running and trailed 10 feet behind me; 3) ran with me, which was lovely; 4) and left me far, far behind.
All this happened in about two weeks.
I expect a similar trajectory as my granddaughter learns French: She'll go from being impressed with my knowledge to scolding me for using the present tense when everyone knows you use the conditional imperfect subjunctive in that instance.
But my point is, these children are now 6 years old, when just last week I was holding their newborn heads on their lolling necks. I know, I know, "they grow up so fast," but honestly, this is too fast. I'm getting a nosebleed.
But even as I pinch my nostrils and tilt my head back, I'm celebrating. To library cards! To French! And to my younger grandson, recently promoted to an older, more sophisticated day care group. To teddy bears everywhere! Party on!
Or, as my granddaughter will soon be saying, "Faisons la fete!"
Write to Margo Bartlett at firstname.lastname@example.org.