I knock at the door and open it slowly. I see her, perched on top of the big bed and doing her makeup. She wiggles her mommy’s face brush and touches her cheeks.
When she sees me, she slides down on the floor and comes to give me a hug.
“Are you hungry?” I ask, leaving my purse on the sofa.
“Yeah,” she says and waits patiently next to her highchair.
I secure her in her seat and go and wash my hands. Mommy is making waffles with peanut butter.
” ‘Niam,’ ” she says, just in case we didn’t get it yet. In her language that means, ” I’m hungry.”
She gets half of a waffle cut in pieces, nice covered in peanut butter. The soft butter trickles on her little fingers. I sit and watch, and love her.
No time for small talk on her side, but “mmm’ and “ah.”
Papa is getting ready to go to work.
“Kiss Papa,” and he bends over her.
With all the great hunger, she proves to be so well behaved. She stops eating and leaves a peanut butter kiss on Papa’s cheek.
Then the day begins.
I open the door to see my 21 month old granddaughter and she welcomes me holding a balloon.
“Hey, you have a balloon. And it’s not even your birthday.” She disappears in her room. I go to say “Hi!” to my daughter.
Our little one shows up in the bedroom holding two balloons.
“Wow! You have two.”
“She has four,” my daughter replies.”Sometimes you have to do what you have to do.”
Milena comes back with the whole bunch of balloons. One gets loose and flies to the ceiling. I rush to catch the string, but those parents are smart. They kept the string long enough for their daughter to reach it.
“I’m taking her for a walk,” I say.
“She might want to take her balloons, as well.”
She didn’t, because she forgot.
I – filling up some paperwork.
She: Would you play with me?
I: Of course. Just give me a few minutes to finish this.
She, leaning on my arm: I will stand here until you finish.
I: OK. It will take a little bit.
She: That’s fine. (Bending to see my face.) Would you play with me with the ball?
I, keeping writing numbers and stuff: Just give me a little more time.
She is silent for one second. Then: Look, we have this small ball. It’s a plastic one.
I, nodding my head.
She: Are you done?
The ball lands on my lap.
She: Sorry, Buni!
I: Don’t worry. Just let me finish this and we’ll play.
She waits. She sits on one of my legs and rocks the chair.
I master this.
Then we play with the ball.
We were given unique talents to use and make a difference around us. I remember my grandfather from my mom’s side. He enriched my world playing his musical instruments made of corn stalks. His hands were blistered from working in the field during the day but at night, the toil changed into joy, songs and dance.
My grandmothers had the skills to feed their families almost from nothing. They went through the second world war keeping everybody safe and fed. They had to hide their daughters while the Germans and then the Russians were tramping their villages.They had an almost impossible dream for their family and they pursued it.
My parents kept that dream. They worked to give me and my sister a dream, that we could be more than they were.
Then I started to dream big and I learned that dreaming big can make others uncomfortable or can inspire them to grow wings and pursue their own dreams. It’s not about what people say, but what your own heart says. You soar high, as high as you can and pass on your passion. Tomorrow someone would fly high because of you.
Restaurant. Crosby starts eating graham crackers while waiting to be seated. Some of us play hide and seek.
Following the hostess. Crosby gets the high chair. We don’t. He also gets two teaspoons, some fresh bread and a few little bags with his own stuff.
He almost gets a knife, his uncle’s green salad and the apple juice when our juggling-server spills it.
Playing with a straw in the iced- water high glass. Fun. Buni holds him. The cake arrives. Birthday singing and he spills the water on both himself and grandma Buni. They need dry pants. He gets one. Buni doesn’t.
“Crosby, here are your toys.”
“Mom.” His voice is so sweet.
“Let’s play with the puppets.”
“Look, this is your box.”
“We keep that cupboard closed.”
“…” Opening the cupboard again.
“Here is your big red plastic bowl and your wooden spoon.”
Joy. Pac! Pac!
Something is stinky here.
Diaper. Scream. Clean boy.
7:30 AM and wiping some dog poop off my shoe.Then I knock at the door. It is my day with Milena.
Her mommy: “She is tired already.” Mommy and Papa leave to work.
I: “Night-night, Mili?”
She, yawning : “No.”
Putting her in her crib. Cry. Taking her out of the crib.
“Hungry?” I ask.
“Fish,” she answers.
I have her in the high chair with fish crackers.
She, shaking her head: “No.”
I, making a scrambled egg: “Egg?”
I, bringing the heavy artillery: “Berries?”
Fish crackers, egg, yogurt and berries are on her plate, in separate sections.
She, starting to make a mess:”Fish.”
I really wished I knew what fish she was talking about.
I put her down on the floor.
“Where is the fish?”
She stretches her arm pointing to the counter.
Yeap. There it is, a black fish in a small tank I haven’t seen earlier.
“Are you hungry?” I don’t let go.
I go to the postoffice. ” I need to send this to Romania,” I say. The guy there is pretty friendly, “Romania? The country where all the ’empires’ come.” I take a second to think. Well, if this fellow says so, I will go with that. He might know more history than I. “Of course, ” I agree. “Aren’t you afraid?” he continues. “Why?” I reply. “I’m proud.” He shakes his head and watches me over his glasses while he helps me. He doesn’t say the word “weird,” but I can feel it in the air. I thank him and leave. Then it hits me. Empires/vampires, they are not the same word.