76: Why Not?

76: Why Not?

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Grand and Great

Why Not?

A CD player headset drowned out the background noise as I worked in the living room at my computer. My fingers rushed over the keys as fast as my mediocre typing skills would allow, and my unblinking eyes stared at the monitor. Working in the living room of a small house that is home to three adults and two young children has forced me to develop a new level in my ability to concentrate. I was busy, very busy with my work. I had achieved that state of concentration that allowed me to block out just about anything, a tornado vacuuming up the room around me, if need be.

Then it happened. A tiny rift opened in my concentration as my eye caught a glimpse of an object flying upward through the air. I pulled my mind back to my work. I didn’t even look to see what the object was, or what became of it as I sealed the rift. No sooner had I resumed my work, then laughter opened another rift in my concentration. Now I was getting annoyed. My seven-year-old grandson, Zach, was sitting across the room on the couch. His smile faded as I gave him my most stern, “Hush, I’m working” look.

Although I couldn’t hear him, I could see that he said, “Sorry, Nana.”

Success — another rift sealed and concentration restored. Sometimes children don’t understand that there is a time for play and a time for work. This time is work time and I must get back to it. Clickety, clickety over the keys my fingers raced.

Another object whizzed past my peripheral vision, and the music wafting through my headset was no match for Zach’s hearty laughter. Now I was really annoyed. Zach was too busy to see my sternest “Hush, I’m working” look. I followed his gaze to the ceiling as he launched another object, a hair scrunchy. With a quick slingshot motion, the hair scrunchy was airborne — whiz, bump, stuck to the popcorn ceiling. Some people like popcorn ceilings. To me, they look as if someone forgot to smooth out the Spackle. I never had any use for a bump-filled ceiling. Zach, on the other hand, had found a use for the ceiling, which now was adorned with a half a dozen hair scrunchies.

Red, purple and green circles clung to the ceiling, some flat up against it and some hanging down.

I lightened up my stern look a bit. “That’s very funny but you have to stop now. Scrunchies don’t belong on the ceiling.”

“But why not? It’s fun! I won’t break anything.”

I was about to tell him to go get the broom so that I could remove the scrunchies, when his words sunk into my head and reminded me of a time when I would have said, “why not?” also. When had I gotten so serious and so busy that I couldn’t revel in the joy of a moment? What happened to the woman who would send her young children’s friends into fits of giggles upon meeting them for the first time by asking them what they did for work and if they were married and had any children? What happened to the woman who laughed herself silly when her children and husband got into a snowball fight in the kitchen with cookie dough? When did I become so rigid? When did I forget, “Why not?”

Why not indeed! I looked at Zach and couldn’t help but smile.

“Can you show me how to do that?”

His face lit up as he showed me how to launch a scrunchy. His laughter filled the air and his eyes sparkled. The ceiling never looked so colorful and happy with all those red, green, purple and yellow circles, some laying flat and some hanging down. I have to admit, Zach was better at it than I. Most of his attempts hit their mark. Most of mine ended up on the floor.

The following morning, I sat at the computer, ready to begin my work. I looked at the scrunchies still clinging to the ceiling and smiled. I certainly had enjoyed our time putting them up there. I decided I would take them down later. That is, until the ceiling lost its grip on one, and it fell, bounced off my shoulder, and onto the floor. Zach’s smiling face flashed in my mind’s eye. I smiled again. I felt like that woman of years ago who laughed at the cookie dough fight. I picked up the scrunchy and plopped it into my pocket.

When Zach came home from school that day, I was ready. He had given me a precious gift, now it was time to show him that I appreciated it.

“Zach, I’ve been waiting all day for you. Look what I found on the floor. It’s no wonder I can’t find these scrunchies when I need them. Please put this away.” I handed him the scrunchy and he headed toward the door.

“Zach,” I called out to him, “where are you going?”

He turned to me, “I’m going to put the scrunchy away, Nana.”

“Please put it where I can find it.” I shifted my gaze from his sweet little face to the ceiling. A broad smile spread across his face as he realized what I was asking him to do. Whizzzzzz, bump — up it went. It was perfect!

If you come to my house, beware of falling scrunchies. You may wonder why I keep my scrunchies on the ceiling. Zach knows the answer to that question, and now, so do I — “Why not?”

~Christina Coruth
Chicken Soup for the Grandparent’s Soul

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