Family time this Thanksgiving weekend included time with a six-year-old, Eloisa. She's the daughter of my cousin Steph and her husband Paul, who live in Portland now. (Steph and Paul are a neat couple; helps that they were already neat people when they met. By the way, they met when they both worked with the Peace Corps, in Mali.) On Saturday, Mom and I went into Portland, rendezvoused at Steph and Paul's home, and walked with Steph, Steph's visiting sister Allison, and Eloisa (Paul needed to sleep; he's a nurse currently on overnight shifts) to Helser's for brunch. I had my first Scotch egg! (Also potato pancakes. I said that those were practice in case I ever converted to Judaism.)
I'm rarely around six-year-old girls; the last time I tended to be around six-year-old girls was when I was a six-year-old boy. Yeah, and that was 1980. I took a little time to get used to having Eloisa around, to warm up to her and hope that she felt comfortable around me. I didn't have to worry. She's a good egg, and has that ridiculous energy almost all kids that age have, and she wants to talk and she wants to laugh. And show off her Hello Kitty boots as well as her knowledge that drawing with a pink marker then drawing over that with a blue marker means you'll get purple, which is AWESOME as a color. (She didn't say "awesome," because that's kind of a big word for a six-year-old, but it feels right. And she really likes purple.)
On the post-brunch walk, where the five of us ran an errand then explored the neighborhood, Eloisa got more energetic. She wanted to run on the sidewalk. I ran with her, then did variations: running really slow (with exaggerated arm-pumping), running in place, and even slowly (slowly) running in reverse; I said "I'm running so slow I'm going backwards!" She laughed. Later on the walk, she picked up a weeping willow branch and had my Mom hold it over her, because Eloisa was a princess.
And princesses need guards, so she recruited me. I pretended to march, looked extra-vigilant, and showed off what little I could remember from junior-high-era tae kwon do and did a sloppy kick...well clear of anybody, of course, because sloppy. (kradical need not fear me stealing his black belt.) And all this did indeed amuse her. So did her quizzing me once we got back to her home; she asked what my favorite animal is and I told her "whales... Some of the biggest creatures ever are whales."
I can be reasonably enthusiastic, but I got more so while interacting with Eloisa. And it's a fun relief, getting to be goofy for a kid's benefit and amusement. So now you can imagine me being goofy for a six-year-old, because I blogged about it.