Keeping up with Miss Olivia

Published 10:31 am Thursday, November 3, 2016

About two weeks ago, I was asked to go to Louisville to help my daughter by keeping my youngest grandchild, Olivia. 

My daughter was going to be working in Cincinnati for a few days and Olivia’s dad wanted to go on a golf outing. 

I agreed to help.

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I was told I needed to be at Olivia’s St. Agnes school no later than 3:15 p.m., so I drove break neck speed to get there on time. It seemed everyone else was going to Louisville that day also, and the traffic was unbelievable. 

After arriving five minutes early and not getting lost, I was allowed to go in to the school and wait for Olivia to come out.

I watched as kids got on a bus, as kids came out in groups who were called walkers, those who walked home from school and I still did not see my granddaughter, even though it looked like the school had emptied out. 

Thinking I somehow missed her and she was lost, how was I going to explain my losing her to her mom and dad?

Beginning to panic, I asked where Olivia Haddox was. 

Then I was told she had French after regular school and would be down in a few minutes. 

So, I tried to relax and wait thinking to myself, “French? She is only in the third grade!”

I never heard of French being taught to third graders when I was in third grade. Aren’t you supposed to be in high school?

It wasn’t long before I saw Olivia, the tallest of about seven or eight little girls coming down the hall and all were going to French class.

I asked the teacher if it would be okay if I sat in on the class and she said it would be fine. 

I learned, “Bon jour, sa va?”

The answer would be “Bon jour, oui, sava bien.” 

Translated, it meant “Hello. How are you?” and the person should respond, “Hello, I am good.” 

I was then happy to hear them sing a song, I had learned as a child from someone. It was “Frere Jacques, Frere Jacques.” 

I did realize that I wasn’t in high school when I learned that. I found out whomever taught me the song was wrong because I always heard it as brother John,  instead the teacher told them it was brother James. I still like the sound of brother John better.

Olivia made me proud in that class and seemed to be getting the lesson. It was funny trying to get the girls to understand singing in rounds. 

I was having a hard time understanding some things because the teacher was true French and her English sounded French to me.

Already by this time of the year, the class had learned the months, colors, numbers and some other songs in French within this one hour a week class.

After school, we went to eat at a sandwich shop of Olivia’s choice, then it was time to walk Colby, the Cavalier King Charles spaniel that sheds hair all over the house. A beautiful dog, but constant work in vacuuming. 

Then we were off for her to go to voice lessons. Luckily, Olivia was able to get me to her voice lessons without us getting lost.

By the time we got home, it was homework time. She makes great grades, so I was a little surprised when she asked me to help her with her math. I was totally shocked when I saw the problem. I was at a total loss, and remember I said she was in the third grade. 

She was to give an example of a two-dimensional figure with two sides. The second one was a three-dimensional figure with two sides. I could only think of two triangles put together for the

second one. After all, it has been more than 50 some years since I had geometry. I felt totally stupid.

The following morning, I decided to use some French on Olivia. Waking  her from a deep sleep, I said, “Bon Jour, Olivia, Dor Me Vous? Sa Va?” 

“Hello. Are You sleeping? How are you?” did not get as sweet a response as her teacher had gotten in class.  

I learned she does mornings about the same way her Nana does. In other words, just don’t talk to me for a while because I will not make any sense with my answers.

That afternoon, I asked her if the answers I had given her in math were correct. She disgustedly said, “No!” 

That added to the ego injury.

I have to tell you, I grieved over that for a while until a week or two later when I was talking on the phone to my former sister-in-law who had been in school all her life as a teacher and has her master’s degree. 

She told me not to feel bad, because she could not help her daughter in the first grade in a Las Vegas school. I have to admit, she helped my ego so much by telling me that.

The next day, Olivia’s school had done well for something and the principal announced they would be getting out at noon. They had a half day free. 

I asked her what she wanted to do, so I found myself sitting in a movie theatre watching a Mrs. Somebody who turned into a

bird. It was a little spooky but I have to say, better than some I

have had to sit through with grandkids. I could at least follow along.

She loved it and told her mom when she called she had to buy

it once it came on the market.

That night, Olivia announced she was going to cook dinner for me. While she only lacks about two inches being as tall as I am and is much older acting than her age, I was not sure of that happening.

Feeling exhausted, I decided I did not want to be up all night

cleaning up after Olivia’s dinner making. 

Somehow, I could picture the kitchen looking much like her room and talked her out of it. It worked and we went to Chipotle’s to eat.

I took her to dance sensations that night for an hour-long session.

Luckily, there was no math help asked that night. I am not sure if she had math but decided to do it herself and take a chance of getting it right.

She and I got into a fuss over her messy room with Barbies all over the room and toys so much that the path to her bed is dangerous. I explained to her that her mom’s room and Aunt Shanda’s room was never like that and they had to keep their own room clean and set their own alarm clock. 

I also tell her what my Mom taught me as a child — that we should always have a path to our bed in case there would be a

fire. She retorted back to me, “Well, there won’t be a fire here.” Then we get into it about having respect for the elderly and not talking back. 

I am sure you have read my articles about how I can not take kids who do not have manners. I think kids lack manners in today’s world and I let her mom know how I felt.

I told her it is time for her to get her bath and get to bed. After she was in bed, I decided to go in and give her a goodnight kiss. She was reading a book about Anne Frank and I told her that we could have had more special time together if she had not been rude and we discussed her manners once more. 

I explained that I had wanted to tell her about Anne Frank and I had gotten to go to the house where she was in hiding in Amsterdam, Holland. I got the book and explained to her the swastika sign and that every time she saw that sign she would know what it stood for.

I felt a little sad that the next day I would be going home after

taking her to school and I had wished our time together had gone better that evening. 

I bent down to give her a kiss and as I was getting back up from bending down, she tugged on my hand and pulled me back down to her and kissed my lips. 

It was the sweetest moment of the whole trip. 

I told her I loved her and she said the same to me.

I slept good that night and prayed again for her as I do every night of her life.