Tag Blanket


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Storytime With Blanket, Kitty and Papa

Storytime With Blanket, Kitty and Papa

On Monday morning, Jet clutched Kitty tightly as she waved goodbye to her mother from the garage. As we came inside I asked, “What would you like for breakfast today?” As Jet started to answer, we both realized that her book bag was still in the car. As Jet began to wail, I frantically called my daughter – but her phone went to voicemail.

By the time I had left a message, Jet was sobbing pitifully, “My blanket, my blanket!”

“Jet! Jet! Look at Grandma! Do you have another blanket at home?”

“My blanket is in the car!”

“Listen to me, Jet, listen: do you have another blanket you like at home?” I touched her chin and made her look at me. “Isn’t there another blanket at home?” Jet nodded, but the tears continued to fall. “Then everything is okay! After breakfast we will go to your house and get your extra blanket and your clothes! I promise!”

I could see the hope dawning in Jet’s eyes. “I need my tag blanket!”

“I know you do, I know. Grandma has some blankets here too… do you want to check and see if one of them has a tag that works for you?”

“I need MY tag blanket Grandma!”

“I know, but just in case it makes you feel better right now, let’s see what I have. Then we’ll have breakfast and go to your house, okay?”


We went into the bedroom and I pulled out a white blanket that had come in the very same bag as Jet’s special blanket. “Try this one.”

Jet felt the satin tag. My blanket may not have been washed quite as much but the tags started out the same. Jet shook her head. “No, this isn’t good. I need my tag blanket.”

The Brothers Love ALL Blankets

The Brothers Love ALL Blankets

“I have a couple more blankets in the closet. Let’s try them, just in case something happens again. It would be good to know that I have an extra blanket you like.” I pulled one of her brothers’ blankets from the shelf. “This one has blue giraffes on it. Try this one.”

Jet felt the tag. “It’s not good.” Tears began to well in her eyes.

“Now don’t forget, we are still going to go to get your blanket after breakfast. I promised.” Jet sighed. “I have one more for you to try. This one has blue elephants on it.” Jet’s nursery was decorated in pink with bunnies. Her brothers’ nursery is blue with elephants.

Jet grabbed the blanket from my hands and gave the tag a cursory feel. “This is a good one Grandma! I like this one! This can be MY elephant blanket! I can keep it here in my bed with my blanket too!”

I smiled wanly and wondered what sort of can of worms I had accidentally opened. “You like that blanket?”

“I love it! I love my elephant blanket!”

On the bright side, her brothers don’t seem to care about the color or design of their blankets. Maybe they can use the white one.

Jet and Kitty

Jet and Kitty


Coloring Inside the Lines


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A Colorful Pig

A Colorful Pig

“Let me show you something Grandma. Look!”

I watch as Jet carefully makes a lower-case letter E. “You remembered how to do it! That’s wonderful!” We had practiced this letter a long time last week but I hadn’t realized how well she had mastered it.

Jet beamed. “Hey, can we color now? You can draw something and I can color it.”

“Okay. I can do that.” I have always felt a little sad when children begin to color inside the lines because they never seem to enjoy it quite as much as scribbling, but at least Jet still choses her colors freely. Her pig has an orange body, a blue head and purple ears.

“What word is THIS?”

“Ummm…. Well, you made some letters, Y, e, b, a… but they don’t make a word.”

“Why not? Why can’t they be a word?”

“To make a word you have to write letters in one particular way so other people can recognize it. You put some letters together in a certain order to make your name, but you use different letters to make my name.” I show her how her own first and last names contain some of the same letters in a different order.

Jet nods and says, “But I want to do it my way. I like it the way I do it.”

“Well that’s fine, you can write letters that make you happy, but other people can only read your words if everyone writes each word the same way. That’s the way it works. When you write “grandma” I know it says “grandma” because you write it the same way every time.” While Jet ponders the mysteries of writing, I wonder if it is confusing to her that blue-headed pigs are cool but random letters are not.

Jet Writes Aunt Mary

Jet Writes Aunt Mary

“Grandma, can you show me how to write Aunt Mary?” I write it for her and she studies it carefully before announcing, “I’m just going to make some of the letters my own way.”

Jet produces a credible rendition, substituting only a lower case A and M. I can read it, so I decide to save the discussion of capital letters for another day, but Jet has another question for me: “Her first name is Aunt and her last name is Mary, isn’t it Grandma?”


Papa’s Desk



My Great-Grandfather's Desk

My Great-Grandfather’s Desk

“Grandma? Can we look to see what’s inside here?”

Jet wants look inside my great-grandfather’s desk. She wants peek under the roll top. She wants me to open the etched glass cabinet and show her the pretty things she can only glimpse from her vantage on the floor. For a second, I remain quiet, savoring this precious moment in time. I’ve lived this scene many times before but never in quite this particular way. An image of my grandparents’ living room begins to bloom in my memory. I can almost hear myself asking that same question. “Isn’t this pretty?” my grandma would say as she carefully turned the key and opened the doors.

My mind flashes to my mother’s voice as she recalled standing beside this desk while her Papa, my great-grandfather, retrieved the heavy ball they made together with the foil of pipe tobacco pouches and helped her to add another layer. How many times did I ask my grandma to stop what she was doing to let me look at her treasures?

In another layer of memory from a different time and place I can see my mother lifting the lid so her grandchildren can hold that special ball of foil or look through her grandfather’s magnifying glass. I’ve been the curious child, the nostalgic parent and now it is my turn to be the fourth generation grandparent to open the cabinet and roll back the lid for my granddaughter.

Miniature of My Mother and Grandmother

Miniature of My Mother and Grandmother

“Yes, of course we can!” I jump to my feet and thank her for remembering that only grandma may touch the desk. As I roll back the lid I watch Jet’s face. She seems focused and intent. I pull the magnifying glass from an inside drawer. “When your mother and Aunt Mary were little their grandma, my mother let them look through this too. Do you see how it makes things bigger?” Jet nods. We find some playing cards, a figurine I made in high school and a piece of pottery her mother created. I let her hold the shell that fills one of the cubbies.

Behind the glass doors we see the miniature picture of my mother and grandmother. She looks at the tiny porcelain doll that belonged to my great-grandmother. “How did she play with it inside that glass?”

“We put it in under the glass because it’s very old and very fragile, but when my great-grandma was young the doll was new and she could play with it. Now it’s best not to touch it!” I lift the glass dome, though so she can get a better look. Jet holds the cup and saucer from a tiny tea set that belonged to my mother, her great-grandma. I tell her about the line of women who have looked in this desk and how it is more than 100 years old. I make 100 hash marks on a piece of paper to show her that this is a very big number.

“How did it get to be so old Grandma?”



“Because our family took good care of it. My great-grandparents took good care of it, and my grandma and my mother and now I’m taking good care of it. Let me show you!” I draw stick figures to represent 6 generations. “After my mama died, the desk came to me. I hope it lasts a long, long time.”

Jet stands next to the desk and thinks about its history. Then she has an idea. “Grandma! I think someday this desk will come to live with me or Jem or Oboe!”

“I like to think so, Jet.”

“Don’t worry, we’ll take really good care of it too!”


Doctor Visit


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Age 4:  Paining a Masterpiece

Age 4: Painting a Masterpiece

Jet is FOUR! From her perspective these few years comprise a lifetime but for me they mark the ever-increasing speed of time. With each new age it seems that memorable moments occur more frequently until I find that I am now caught up with new memories-in-the-making before I have time to write about the last.

This week Jet and I went to the doctor for a well-child visit. Jet’s parents had prepared her for the possibility that she might be due for a vaccination. “I don’t want a shot,” she announced in the car.

“I don’t know if it is time for you to get a vaccination, but if you need one, it’s good to get it! The shots protect you from some very bad illnesses. I know you don’t like to get sick!”

“But I don’t want one.”

“If you need one, I’ll hold your hand.”


Jet's Tiny Blood Pressure Cuff

Jet’s Tiny Blood Pressure Cuff

The nurse took Jet’s height and weight and applied a tiny blood pressure cuff to her arm. “This is like a hug,” the nurse said.

Jet cocked her head and looked at her. “No, it’s not.”

“Well, okay, but don’t worry this doesn’t hurt.”

The doctor asked me about her development which of course I felt was quite advanced for her age. “She can cut with scissors!” I informed her proudly.

“That’s great,” the doctor said. “How are her social interactions?”

Jet felt the need to contribute the conversation. “Grandma hurt her back, so Papa and I are doing all the bending over for her until it gets better!”

“That’s great,” the doctor assured her. “I know your grandma must be glad to have you to help!” She added a whispered, “Are you okay?” I nodded. “You’d be surprised how many people have back pain when there are twins in the family!”

“Jet, can you count to ten?” In response Jet rattled off a string of numbers into the teens. The doctor smiled and whispered again, “She’s quite bright isn’t she?” When the exam was completed she told Jet that she needed two injections. “These are tiny ones. They won’t hurt at all!”

Waiting for Vaccinations

Waiting for Vaccinations

Jet lay calmly on the table singing “Do Re Mi” as she waited for the nurse to come back with vaccines.   She was stoic as the nurse pulled out the syringes and opened an alcohol packet and two bandages. She remained still as she approved the color of the bandages. She watched carefully as the nurse took the alcohol swab and approached her thigh.

As the cold swab touched her leg, a banshee cry rent the air. “It hurts, it hurts!” She pulled her legs to her chest and batted her hands at the nurse. “Go away! Take that out of here!”

“It’s just something to clean your leg. It doesn’t hurt. It’s just a little cold!”

“I don’t want it! Go away!” I took Jet’s hand as promised.

The nurse assured her that the shot would not hurt at all. “It will be over before you know it!” She put her hand on Jet’s leg and gently squeezed a bit of skin. My eyes widened as bloodcurdling screams filled the room. “You’re going to have to hold her down,” the nurse informed me.

“Shhhh, it’s okay! I’m right here! It’s okay!” Jet was suddenly writhing and bucking in my arms. I lay gently across her body as the nurse grasped her firmly and administered the first shot.


“Jet, wiggling around makes it hurt. If you sat still it wouldn’t hurt.” Unfortunately we were past the time for logic. Jet thrashed and squirmed with all her might. The nurse picked up her instruments of torture and hastily departed. Jet sobbed in anguish at the horrific violation of her person.

“Let’s go home, Jet.”

“It hurts.”

“We’ll put an ice pack on it when we get home.”

The receptionist handed me Jet’s paperwork. “Can she have a sticker?”

“Oh yes, of course. She certainly deserves one.” [Or perhaps an academy award for her performance.]

“Well, in that case, take two!”



What Is Real?


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Reading To Kitty

Reading To Kitty

Jet can create pretend food out of almost anything. On this occasion, she had some memory game cards. I picked up her stuffed cat to sit down on the couch.

“Kitty wants to play my game. Put her back in her seat Grandma!”

“How do you know she wants to play?”

“She told me.”

“What else did she tell you?”

“Grandma, Kitty’s not real.”

“She’s not? “ As far as I could tell, Kitty had always been completely real. Almost since the day she arrived, Kitty had been Jet’s special friend.

“No, she can’t really talk. That’s just me. I’m using my voice for her. She can’t talk by her own self.”

“What about Bunny? Is she real?” Jet often brings a friend for Kitty when she comes to Grandma’s house. The most frequent visitors are Penguin, ‘Pottomus, and Fox. Bunny usually stays home. None of them have human names.

“No, she can’t talk either unless she uses my voice.”

“So talking makes you real?” I felt surprised and more than a little sad that Kitty had lost some of the magic that made her real.

“Yes. Sophia is real too. She has an amulet on her chest that you push and she can talk by her own self. “

“Are you real?”

“Yes. I can talk.”

“What about Marcy and Garko? They can’t talk. Are they real?”

“Yes, but they are dogs. They are real dogs, but I have a stuffed dog that’s not real. Dogs can’t talk, but they are real dogs.”

“Is Papa real? “


“Am I real?”

“Yes. Fairies aren’t real though. These ones are just on my jammies.”

“Your penguin?”

“Yes, he’s real. All three of them. I have three of them now.”

“Well that’s interesting.” The demarcation between fantasy and reality was apparently not completely clear. “Can Kitty feel sad?”

“Yes. When you close her eyes like this she is sad.”

In real life, Kitty does not have eyes that open and close. “Can Kitty feel happy?”


“Do you love Kitty?”

“Yes, I love her SO much!”

I don’t know about Jet, but deep down, I think I still believe that love can make things real.



Glasses (May 22, 2017)


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Grandma’s Glasses

Jet’s brothers Oboe and Jem wear glasses. Grandma and Papa wear glasses. Jet’s Aunt and Uncle wear glasses. “I need glasses, “ Jet declared, “‘cause my eyes don’t work too well.”

“You have some sunglasses.”

“I need real glasses to help me see.”

The natural inclination of course, is to assume that she could see perfectly well, but the boys’ ophthalmologist suggested that based on family history alone, Jet should have her eyes checked too. So, I took her for an exam while mommy and daddy were at work. Jet was thoroughly prepped for the appointment with admonishments and instructions about proper behavior. She understood that she would be expected to do exactly as the doctor directed.

Jet in Grandma's Glasses

Jet in Grandma’s Glasses

Jet climbed into the big chair. The doctor asked me if she could read the alphabet. “For the most part,” I assured her. The first letter was a very large E. Jet declared that she had absolutely no idea what it could be. Something about that chair must have rendered Jet unable to remain still. She wiggled and twisted and moved her legs to the side of the chair.

The doctor ignored the wiggling and moved her legs back in place. “That’s all right,” she assured me. “We’ll just use pictures. Can you tell me what this is?” A birthday cake appeared on the wall.

“A spinning wheel!”

“And this?” A horse and rider appeared.

“That’s a cow!”

“What about this?” A telephone blinked into view.

“A bed.” I began to wonder if she could see at all.

“How old is she again?” the doctor asked.

Jet didn’t like my answer that she would be four in a few weeks. “I’m not four in a few weeks! It’s more than that!”

The doctor held the pictures right in front of her face and asked the questions again while Jet made exactly the same responses.

“And… the silly kicks in,” sighed the doctor. “At least she is consistent. I can work with that.”

When the doctor pulled out some 3D glasses to test depth perception, Jet demanded purple ones and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Unfortunately purple was not an option.

“I’m sorry, she isn’t normally like this!”


I remained quiet until Jet refused to let the doctor put drops in her eyes. “It will only sting for a second,” I assured her.

“Grandma!” the doctor admonished me.

“Oh, sorry, I guess we don’t say that?”

“No we do not! That is not at all helpful.”

Poorly behaved Grandma and poorly behaved Jet went to the waiting room where she pretended to be an airplane flying into the chest of another patient and the end of her Grandma’s patience was reached. I pulled Jet close and whispered through my teeth, “I don’t know what got into you young lady, but it had better get right back out! You will sit still and do what the doctor tells you or you will be in time out the minute we get home.”

A subdued child returned to the exam room and sat relatively still despite the bright light being shined in her eyes. “She’s plus 4,” the doctor announced.

“Are you saying she needs glass?” I asked.

“Purple!” shouted Jet.

Trying on Glasses

Trying on Glasses

“It will be up to your mommy to come back and pick out glasses for you,” I said.

“I think that would be best,” the doctor agreed.

Back at home, Jet returned to her perfectly behaved little self. Really.


Mother’s Day (May 14, 2017)


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I love you, Mom

I love you, Mom

Jet and I went to the library to get some new books. The children’s room usually offers a table with crayons and a sheet to copy. This time, a sign on the table read, “Make a card for your mother and give it to the librarian and you may choose a book for your mother from the library sale.” What a fantastic idea! Jet went right to work and had soon earned her mom a book.

The sale books were centered at adult eye level — too high for Jet to reach most of them, but she quickly pulled down a book on car repair. “This one!”

“That’s a nice looking book, Jet, but it’s about fixing cars. I think we should look for something else. Let’s keep looking.”

“Here’s a book, Grandma, it has a princess on it!” Jet hollered as she pulled off a torrid romance novel at the exact moment I spotted something in the sci-fi genre.

I Love You To Pieces

I Love You To Pieces

“Shhh – don’t forget to be quiet in the library! That’s a pretty book, all right, but look, here’s one that’s really big! Which one do you want?”

Jet wavered. Her hand went back and forth between the big book and the princess. Bigger won. “I want to wrap it all by myself.”

“Okay. Let’s take it home.”

Jet remembered a great deal about wrapping presents. She needed no prompting to take the roll of paper and lay it on the carpet. She pulled out a length of it and brandished her scissors. “I’m going to cut this all by myself!”

“Okay, but you need a bit more than that.” I showed her where to cut. Her scissors ran through the paper like butter!

Cutting the Paper

Cutting the Paper

“Get the tape, Grandma!” I rushed to get the tape and held the paper in place for her as she directed. When I let go the paper fell back to the floor. “It didn’t work!”

“The tape has to touch both sides of the paper, remember? It’s okay, just put on another piece and you can do the ends.” Jet remembered how I folded in the sides first at the ends and did a very credible job of duplicating my style.

“Ribbon! We need ribbon!” I got the ribbon. “I’ll cut it Grandma, but you tie it on for me, okay?”

“Sure thing, sweetness.” At least she still needs me for something!

Adding Tape

Adding Tape





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Feel Better Grandma!

Feel Better Grandma!

A highly contagious virus, one of the few drawbacks attached to grandchildren, rendered me couch-bound for 7 days. Jet colored numerous “feel better” drawings for me that lifted my spirits considerably. Papa stepped into the breach to make sure she didn’t miss her ballet class on Monday. I took a “sick day” on Tuesday, but Jet returned on Wednesday with more help from Papa to handle stories and songs.

We had a very quiet day: play, bath, play, lunch, nap. After her nap, Jet noticed the design of Papa’s t-shirt. “Look, there’s a crow on your shirt!”

“I don’t think so,” Papa smiled. My husband is a fan of hawks, falcons and other birds of prey. Crows, not so much.

Papa's Bird Shirt

Papa’s Bird Shirt

“Yes! Yes, it is a crow! I know because his nose has a point on the end.”

As Papa pondered the ensuing argument and his chances of winning it, Jet took matters into her own hands. “I’ll show you,” she said.

I can’t begin to describe the pride that blossomed in our retired-librarian hearts as our grandchild ran to pull a reference book to prove her point. Jet quickly flipped the pages of an ABC of birds and turned to E for eagle. “Look, see his nose? That’s a crow!”

The world stood still for a moment as our widened eyes met above Jet’s head. “She’s amazing,” I whispered.

“You’re right about his nose, but see this? This is an E, for eagle, not a crow.” Papa was so gentle in his correction that Jet barely registered that she had been partly wrong. “The bird on my shirt could be an eagle though.”

“Show her a hawk in your bird book too,” I suggested.

A Spoonbill

A Spoonbill

Papa fetched his guide to birds in North America and showed Jet how many birds of prey had hooked beaks. Jet’s fingers twitched with the desire to flip through the pages too. She quickly discovered another familiar bird. “This is a spoonbill,” she announced. It certainly was.


Family Dance


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“Dance, Grandma! Do the song from the Music movie.”

Grandma’s Kitchen Dance

Jet is eating a nice lunch. This tells me she is feeling better, so I am happy to comply, finding the words as I go along:

Blueberry yogurt and hotdogs no mustard,
Raspberry Jell-O and pudding not custard,
Strawberry applesauce with cold green beans,
These are the best things that Jet’s ever seen!

 My imitation of Julie Andrews twirling on the mountaintop is marginal, but good enough for Jet. “More — do some more!”

 Cheddar jack cheese sticks and daily dried prunes,
Eating some oatmeal on a Mickey Mouse spoon,
Story time, bath time and songs Grandma sings,
These are a few of Jet’s favorite things!

“That’s all I can think of for now.”

“That’s okay. I’m done. Clean me.”

“Clean me please.”

“Okay, Clean me up please.”

“Okay, story time next what books will we read?”

“Mommy and I like to dance for daddy while he is eating his dinner.”

Jet’s Ballet Dance

I know Jet is procrastinating, but I can’t help myself. She’s captured my imagination. “You do?”

“Yes, daddy eats his dinner and we get up and dance.”

“What sort of dances do you do?” I pull out my phone. I don’t want to miss this!

“Well, I dance like this.” Jet demonstrates a ballet move.

“Mommy dances like this.” Jet pulls her arms closer to her body.

Mommy’s Dance

Warming to the topic she expands the dance team. “Jem and Oboe dance like this!” She closes her fists and shakes them.

The Brothers’ Dance

“Great, that’s good dancing, but, it is nap time now, let’s get your stories!”

“Don’t you want to see how Garko (the dog) dances?”

“Well, I guess I do. Go ahead.”

Bending in half, Jet places her hands on her knees and wiggles her tail. I have to admit, she does a very credible dog dance!

Dog Dance!


Crunch Week


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My Daughter's Hand

My Daughter’s Hand

Unfortunately, Jet, Oboe and Jem won’t remember how hard their mother worked to produce and rear three children while she pursued her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering so let me make it clear: hard doesn’t begin to describe it. My grandchildren should know that their mother is a real-life feminist heroine of long-standing duration, who soldiered on with quiet grace through physical and mental adversity to excel in work and home, research and motherhood. She endured pregnancy complications, delivery injuries and the unexpected addition of premature twins. She overcame research anomalies, breast-feeding hardships, and colicky babies. She triumphed over mathematical derivations, sleepless nights and early morning alarm clocks.

My husband and I can only watch our daughter slog toward the finish line with awe, frustrated by how little we can do to help. “Grandma, why don’t you let mommy and Aunt Mary live here any more?” Jet asked. If only she knew how much we wished we could bring her mommy home and take care of her for just a little while!

We hoped to alleviate a bit of pressure by inviting Jet to sleep overnight Sunday and Monday night. Jet loves sleepovers, thanks in no small part to the opportunity to stay up late and watch a movie with Grandma and Papa. It’s the only time we let her watch a TV screen, which makes it even more special. She chose The Little Mermaid the first night. Jet was not at all impressed by Ariel’s decision to disobey her father. “She’s not a very good girl, is she? Why did she go out by herself?” She found much of the plot unfathomable: “Why doesn’t she have legs?” “Why does that shark want to eat her?” “Why doesn’t she know it’s a fork?” “Why does that witch want to take her voice?” I must admit we were all ready for bed when the movie ended!

The next night I made popcorn. Jet was thrilled to munch her way through a substantial helping. The Sound of Music turned out to be a better choice, but was a little too long to finish in one night. When Jet spread her blanket on the floor to “rest,” I asked if she’d like to go to bed. The promise that we’d finish the movie the next day was all she needed to acquiesce. Jet is that rare child who understands how to delay gratification.

An hour later our house was rent by piercing screams. Channeling Miss Clavell from Madeline, Jet’s Papa and I — sincerely afraid of disaster — ran fast — and faster! We found Jet huddled over her bed, hair dragging in the contents of her stomach. She had no words to express her horror and disgust, but her tear-streaked face told the story. Perhaps popcorn wasn’t the best idea after all.

Poor Baby!

Poor Baby!

With clean sheets, clean pajamas and a bowl “just in case,” Jet went back to sleep for another hour or so, only to wake a little too late to find the bowl. I gave her a partial bath while Papa replaced the sheets again. This time her special blanket fell victim. “Get it off, get it off,” she begged. She wanted her special blanket back no matter how wet, but was eventually persuaded that Grandma’s dry, clean blanket would be cozier.

Prudence required that her esophagus remain vertical for a while, so went back to the couch for some cartoon offerings on Netflix. By 3:00 a.m. I felt pretty sure the popcorn was not the only problem despite the absence of a fever. Jet handled her continuing gastric distress with incredible aplomb, reaching calmly for the bowl and hitting the mark every time throughout the night. She is definitely her mother’s daughter!

Just Watching a Movie

Just Watching a Movie

Tuesday morning found us both exhausted. Papa ran to the drugstore for Pedialyte and an anti-nausea prescription and Jet was able to eat some toast and part of a banana. We watched the rest of the Sound of Music. “Why are you letting me watch this, Grandma?”

“Because you are sick, sweetie. It’s okay to watch movies when you are not feeling well because you really can’t do anything else.”

“I think I could take a nap.”

“You want to take a nap? Now?” Jet nodded, but sleep eluded her and she had to empty her stomach yet again.

“Can you read to me?” We snuggled together on the couch, bowl at the ready.