My grandson James calls me Didi. I spend a lot of time sitting in the floor watching him play with whatever he has decided is a toy. My wife has not taught James to respect private property. And by that I mean that she has not taught him to respect MY property. But that’s another blog or marriage counseling appointment.
Anyway, he always wants me to play with him, and since he plays with things that aren’t technically toys, I never have any idea what the rules of the game are. Last night he was playing with a plastic spatula, an old book cover, a towel, and the dog. After a few minutes the dog decided he wanted no part of it and crawled under the bed.
I watched him do whatever it was he was doing for a few minutes after the dog left, and was about to discreetly exit the room. For a man in his late fifties, “discreet” means finding something to grab while I pull myself up, and hoping James doesn’t notice my knee cracking as I limp out of the room.
But he did. He grabbed my hand and pulled me back to the floor and said, “Let’s play.” I followed his example: I wrapped the towel around the spatula handle and pushed the book cover across the floor making engine noises. James snatched the book cover away, and said, “No, Didi. Remember? You’re supposed to pick up aliens.”
What? When did aliens enter the picture? He ran out and came back in with his hands full of those little vending machine aliens from the “Toy Story” movies. He dumped them on the floor so picked them up with the spatula and put them on the book cover.
He grabbed the spatula away from me, rolled his eyes, and said, “No, Didi. Remember? We’re not COOKING.”
I’ll admit I felt a little ashamed, because I DIDN’T remember.
Remember what? I don’t know. I don’t make the rules.
Sometimes we all feel that we are at the mercy of rules we’ve never heard of and wouldn’t understand if we had. We worry ourselves sick that we’ve overlooked something. (“No, Didi. Remember?”) Buying a house for the first time is about as scary an undertaking as you can imagine. The stack of papers you have to sign is almost three inches thick. It’s like trying to play a game designed by a three-year-old (or by lawyers, accountants, realtors, insurance brokers and government employees- same thing).
Habitat for Humanity Fresno County knows how scary house-buying is. That’s why we have a wonderful person named Joan Cook, our Family Services Coordinator. She explains EVERYTHING to our families. She explains over and over until the family feels secure. She is with them at every step of the process: orientation, screening, training, scheduling sweat equity, picking out paint colors and planning the party for Moving In Day.
If James said, “No, Joan. Remember?” she would say, “Of course I do, James.”
And James would believe her.