Being the oldest, I knew that waiting for Grandma's attention would be worth it. So when she began to interest the little ones in some watercolors which she pulled from her special bag, I eagerly supplied cups of water and newspapers to help hurry up the process. As soon as my two littlest sisters were happily applying paint to themselves and paper, Grandma returned to her magical bag and withdrew a cartooning art book.
I had used this guide many times and hoped Grandma had brought the beautiful colored pencils along. Maybe this time I could get my giraffe to look as tall and majestic as the example in the book. My excitement grew as Grandma found them in her mysterious bag. I was itching to get my hands on those smooth pencils when Grandma said, "Mary, why don't we let Kathy and Connie share the book today and we'll try something new." I always did whatever they did, and happily so. But Grandma wanted to do something different with just me.
I was apprehensively curious and wistfully handed the supplies over to my sisters, wondering what could be better than drawing giraffes with Grandma. What else could she have packed in her Grandma bag for me, I pondered. Again I became the helpful big sister, providing work space and paper for the art project, keeping my selfish motives safely in my heart. I could have completed a zoo-ful of giraffes in the time it took my sisters to choose what they wanted to draw and Grandma to get them started. While waiting, the little ones, Denise and Leann, began complaining about dirty paint water and seemed to be losing interest in painting. Quickly, I replaced their water and encouraged them to try some new pictures. Grandma praised me for being so kind and helpful to my little sisters. I felt a dart of guilt at my hidden knowledge that my reasons for helping were purely self serving.
Finally, with two sisters earnestly painting and two more drawing their favorite animals, Grandma returned to her bag of love. "Mary", she said, "I was about your age when my grandmother taught me how to knit. How would you like to make a scarf for yourself?" Did Grandma really think I was big enough to knit, I speculated. She pulled out several bright packages of yarn, which she called skeins and let me chose my favorite. Grandma patiently explained casting on and let me try it. She held my small hands in her larger, skilled hands, and those awkward sticks, which she called needles, moved effortlessly. Row upon row, Grandma guided my hands, encouraging me as I dropped the needles, pulled too tight, or not tight enough. She said, "Mary, you're a natural at this. Before long you'll be knitting mittens or a sweater."
My concentration and determination to learn this new skill washed away the activity in the room. It was just me and my proud grandma working together when Leann's cry awoke me from my bliss. "Grandma", she said, "I need help!" Grandma put her arm around Leann and said "Here honey, Grandma will help." She took the paintbrush from Leann and filled it with yellow paint as Leann settled down to watch. "Oh, Grandma", I said, "I lost another stitch." Calmly she replied, "Well, let's take a look." She turned the paintbrush around 180 degrees and used the other end to pick up my stitch. I was taking my erstwhile scarf from her when Kathy and Connie starting laughing and pointing at Grandma. Soon Denise and Leann joined them. Grandma looked perplexed and I said, "What's so funny?" Through their gasps for air they shouted, "Grandma painted herself." Sure enough, when Grandma flipped that paintbrush around, she put a nice yellow stripe up the front of her royal blue dress. Soon all six of us were hooting with laughter and Grandma said, "You girls are so much fun." So was my Grandma!
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