My granddaughter, Caedan Ray, is accustomed to looking into a cellphone camera while her parent on duty sends pictures to the parent at work. She obligingly treats a cellphone as a camera and has learned various ways to get into the mood for a pose. At school someone told her to “Say cheese” for the pre-school photo and she now says that once in a while. Her mother calls her gap-toothed grin her Spongebob Smile and Caedan responds happily to any mention of his name.
On Thanksgiving afternoon, Aunt Terri and Uncle Leslie gave her a birthday gift (her third birthday was the Monday before Thanksgiving) and she opened a package containing a baby doll with a magnetic pacifier, which we adults cooed over. Next she pulled out a pretend cellphone. She had a play cellphone when she was much younger, but this is her first one with a pretend camera. It has sound effects. Point and click and it makes a credible camera sound.
All afternoon and into the evening the cellphone/camera never left her hand. All twenty of us smiled and posed repeatedly as if for real pictures. Someone mentioned – perhaps it was Cousin Jeff or Cousin Greg or Cousin Pattie or Cousin Billie – all of whom had posed at least a dozen times – that cellphone must have a huuuuge memory.
Caedan approached a group of ladies who were giggling on the couch. There was Aunt Terri, Aunt Terri’s sister, Pam, Mommy and Cousin Tracy.
“I take you picture,” she said.
She pointed her new toy at them and asked, as we always ask her,
Each of the women offered the peace sign and big smiles. Everyone laughed.
“I take you picture again.”
Before they could get a pose ready, Caeden held up two fingers, imitated their previous pose and ordered,
Until just this week, the peace sign was also the symbol for how many years she was old. She assumed, with a toddler’s absolute self-absorption, that they were all talking about how old she used to be, before she got to be three.
As soon as we left Cousin Tracy’s house, Caedan fell asleep in her car seat and when the cellphone/camera dropped out of her hand, she woke and asked us for it. At home, one parent carried her inside while the other got her pajamas. She started to cry.
“My cram-ruh! My cram-ruh is in the car!”
The day after Thanksgiving, her Abba and Mommy were both scheduled to work a long day. I was Hammy On Duty. This is how it went.
“Hi Hammy. What are you doing?”
“I take you picture cooking eggs.”
“Hammy, what are you doing?”
“I take you picture reading.”
“I take you picture drinking coffee.”
“I take you picture changing clothes.”
And so it went all day long.
Lately when her Mommy or Abba comes home from work, Caedan greets them with a dramatic scene. As soon as she hears the car in the driveway, she throws open the door and shouts, “Mommy!” or “Abba!” As the parent appears in view, she extends her arms wide and announces, “You came home! You back in my life!” No one knows where she learned this or if she even knows what it means, but it does make for a gratifying homecoming.
The night after Thanksgiving, at the end of her day with Hammy, she heard her Mommy arrive and ran to the door to perform her greeting. Right after “You back in my life!” and at the point where her Mommy usually reacts with a big hug, Caedan stopped her Mommy from entering. She yelled,
“Wait!” and ran to get her new cellphone/camera.
“I take you picture coming home.”
Ó By Anita Garner