Grandson Emerson, 3, could be headed for a career in cruise ship deck games.
He likes boats. He likes people. Most particularly, he likes for people to feel at home, be comfortable, have what they need.
In our family, the children are in charge of distributing presents at birthday gatherings and Christmas. Emerson excels at present delivery, hampered not at all by age-related illiteracy.
Once told what the gift tag says, Emerson locks on to the recipient like a heat-seeking missile aimed at molten iron ore.
Where I might become distracted and forget whose present I was carrying from the Christmas tree to the sofa, blue wingback chair or hearth, Emerson is on a taut wire from pole to pole.
Should the person for whom the present is intended become distracted, Emerson will yank the colorful tissue paper from the gift bag to reveal, yes, the combination binoculars/digital camera.
Diplomatic school would be a waste on this short ambassador to the world.
Let’s say, as a hypothetical, that I put Emerson’s training pants on backward. Let’s say, just trying to be funny, that the future legate to Ireland looked like he had an eggplant in the back of his shorts. Someone NOT diplomatic would rage at the profound dumbness of his valet.
“That’s not the way we do it,” Emerson said, I mean might say.
This child’s DNA put a twinkle in his eyes which softens censure. The voice says, “You blew it.” The eyes say, “You meant to, right?”
The other afternoon, my wife, Emerson and I were about to make the Red Stick Trifecta — observation deck of the Capitol, Mike the Tiger’s cage, the grocery store.
“Call Cynthia,” Emerson said.
Cynthia was our neighbor before she moved into the village of perpetual twilight that is Alzheimer’s. She, like Emerson, is most at home in the immediate, like right now, present.
She and Emerson enjoy feeding the koi at Cynthia’s apartment. Each has been known to go one-for-me and one-for-koi when doling out the Cheerios.
I like to make the dozens of huge, crazy-colored fish do the basket weave by throwing handfuls of Cheerios.
I’d poured some Cheerios into Emerson’s cupped hands and was turning to do the same with Cynthia when Emerson buried his face in his hands to inhale the fish food.
Cynthia began picking up spilled Cheerios, as did Emerson, and then each resumed one-for-me and one-for-koi.
My wife and I exchanged the international distress signal of rapid eyelid batting before we all piled back into the car.
We’d already been to the observation deck of the Capitol and to Mike the Tiger’s cage where Cynthia had asked, in both places, in a stentorian voice, “What’s going on? Who ARE these people?”
Emerson said, “They came to see Mike the Tiger.”
I didn’t catch what he said high atop the Capitol, but it must have been utterly appropriate because Cynthia did the “yup” nod before asking the air, “What are we doing here?”