A Toddler Girl with One Curl…

Elizabeth Ricketson
4 min readJan 16, 2023

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A rugged number of weeks. The unfortunate challenges of life have been unrelentingly hovering over our family. Navigating daily stresses and long-range concerns have felt quite weighty.

Last week I went to my daughter and sons-in-law’s house to “help.” Spending time with my granddaughter Belle while both parents worked and addressed responsibilities outside of their home. Greeted I was by a happy scream and a multitude of hugs. My granddaughter’s smile made the multi hour drive quickly fade from my memory. I unpacked my car which contained fresh chocolate chip cookies that I had baked before I left my house in Vermont somewhere before 6am.

The hugs. Smiles and giggles melted the number of stressful weeks away. I am certain Belle sees me as a playmate. She wouldn’t be wrong. I am a grandparent. Isn’t that my role? The heavy lifting is done by her parents. I swoop in for the fun. Yes, I help wherever I can but mostly it is endless hours of reading, playing, and laughter. Immediately I was instructed to take off my winter coat and start playing. She reacquainted me with her baby doll, toy dog and the many books. I sat on the plush carpet with Belle beside me and we read book after book…

The weather cold and damp. An odd winter, again. My daughter Emily and I decided to go for a run despite the weather. We three girls. Emily and I chilled by the dampness, but Belle is enviably snuggled in her running stroller. She is cocooned in down and only her sweet face shows. A heavy plastic stroller rain shield keeps her protected from the elements. We are happy to leave the house for our adventure. We trot along chatting. I am grateful. 3. 5 miles later we returned home. We planned our afternoon post nap while we ate fruit and pancakes. Showers and a nap first…

We decided to visit a local farm to feed the goats. A small farm tailored for children and a favorite spot. We readied ourselves for our outing before darkness. Emily was dressed in a pink sweater. Belle chose a pink dress, so I needed to fall in line as she requested aka demanded that I wear pink too. Fortunately, my daughter still had possession of two pink sweaters she had “loaned” from me. Belle selected the one she wanted me to wear and of course I did. Emily laughed and I ask her why? She smiled at me as she acknowledged how easily I do whatever Belle asks of me. I immediately thought of my father as he was wonderfully playful and patient with my children. Emily and her brother Daniel benefitted from his cherished elder years. Why not I say to her? I am all in for the fun…

Properly attired “The Pink Ladies” were on the road again and headed to the farm. Large snowflakes had begun to fall so had daylight. We arrived at the farm just before closing. The inside of the small barn glowed warm. We had the animals all to ourselves. A brown paper bag filled with green beans was purchased at the farm store along with a bottle of chocolate milk for Belle. The goats were very happy for the generous treats repeatedly coming their way. Goat heads popped up through the wooden stall slats high and low. A large pig in the next stall also benefited from a bean or two. A black and white lop-eared rabbit cozy on woodchips in a cage on the floor. Belle loved the rabbit and with her gentle small hand she carefully patted the bunny time and time again. We drank chocolate milk on the way home while we recounted the fun. Ponies jumping. Goats chomping and a bunny hopping…

Home once again. We left our boots in the foyer as we feared parts of the barn had traveled with us. Hands washed and dinner being made Belle and I returned to her room. We played Duplo’s for a while before switching to reading. Belle picked out a book about the Disney character named Moana and I dutifully began to read. She popped up from my lap and asked if she could watch the Moana movie? Yes, I answered. We headed toward the living room. Belle moved quicker than I. Running on her forefoot as her hair bounced. One perfect curl danced down the middle of her small back. A toddler girl with one curl I smiled to myself.

The movie began and we settled in. She sat on my lap with her back straight. As the music started her small body relaxed into me. A beautiful Afghan in shades of lovely blues knitted by her paternal grandmother warmed us both. Our hearts too. Belle’s small right hand reached over and rested on the top of my left hand. We held hands for the near entirety of the movie. I knew I could not love this child any more than I did in that moment except for all the other moments too…

“One of the greatest gifts I’ve ever been given is my granddaughter” –Ace Freshley

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Elizabeth Ricketson

A graduate of Providence College with a BA in English, Elizabeth Ricketson has always had a love of literature and the fine arts.