I am so sore! I have aches and pains, bruises and bumps, screaming stomach muscles. What was I thinking, playing with my granddaughter as though I were nine years old?
It was so hot while I was visiting my family on Vashon Island that my granddaughter asked to play in the sprinkler. She ran through it, again and again, urging me to join her, but, really, I'm beyond the age of playing in sprinklers. Still, I was tempted just to get wet, so I went inside and put on my bathing suit. When I came back out, my son had spread a long sheet of black plastic down a steep slope on the lawn, with some rubber mats under it and the sprinkler at its top for a slip-n-slide. My granddaughter was already sliding joyously down the hill.
"Come on, Amma Dee!" she yelled. "You try it. Come on."
Well, I mean, how undignified could I get? Sliding down a hill at my age? No, no, I said. But I did sit at the top and tease her with pretend pushes as she tried to crawl up the plastic. "I'm coming up the black river," she would say, making her way up the slippery route, and then, within my reach: "Oh, no! It's the Amma-Dee squid!" and I would lunge at her, and she would go sliding down with squeals and laughter.
"Come on, Amma Dee. You do it." Then, when I wouldn't: "Bad Granny!"
Bad Granny?! Bad Granny!? I am not Granny. I'm Amma Dee.
That did it. Down I went, on my bum.
She was delighted, and I had to admit, it was fun, so I went down again, but this time, I fell over a bit and slid down on my hip. I went really fast! And it was really, really fun.
For the next three hours, she and I played on the slip-n-slide. We slid down the slope one after the other, convulsing in laughter at the bottom. I was getting plenty of speed by sliding on my hip, even flying past the end of the plastic, stopping only when I hit the grass. When I stood up, my legs were flecked with grass cuttings.
Once, when I stood up after my slide, still on the plastic, my feet slipped out from under me, and I fell boom! on my bum. (It's a hard way to learn that I don't have osteoporosis, I thought ruefully.) Another time I slipped unexpectedly and crashed into my granddaughter, both of us tumbling down. Sometimes, when I veered off track in my uncontrollable slide, I hit the dry part of the plastic, which was very hot. I screeched the rest of the way down.
Besides "Amma Dee Squid," we played "taxi": when we landed at the bottom, my granddaughter would start crawling back up the hill with me hanging on to her ankle. She was the taxi, pulling me up the hill, except, of course, she wasn't strong enough to pull me up, so really I was hanging onto her ankle and pulling myself up with my elbows and thighs. But the plastic was very slippery, and I really did need her nine-year-old's strength as well as all the strength I had to crawl on my stomach up a steep hill of wet plastic. We made incremental progress, slipping backward, then heaving forward again. I kept putting my head down to rest, saying, "I can't. I can't," and then gathering energy for another pull until finally, every time, we made it to the top, dissolving again into giggles.
We screeched and yelled and laughed. We slid down, out of control. We pulled ourselves up again. It's no wonder I feel like I've beaten. Good Lord. I'm almost 73 years old. Don't I know better than to be throwing myself around like a nine-year-old?
It was wonderful. It was imaginative and exhausting and free-spirited. My granddaughter loved it. I loved it. And when I left the house to catch the ferry, the beginning of the journey home, she came running from the house, threw her arms around me, and gave me another long, tight hug. Every bump, bruise, ache, and pain I have now was worth that moment.