I watched an 87-year-old woman go down a slide last night. She'd been visiting her son and grandsons, who happen to be my piano students. In mid-Ode to Joy, Mark turns around to look out the large glass window into their backyard. "Grandma's going down the slide!"
Their jungle gym literally rivals the public one across the street. It has swings and a wiggling ramp and a rope climb, and of course--the glory of the playground--two slides. There's the smaller Yellow One that has one curve in it and no cover which, for those a little more timid, allows for hand-holding while sliding. But Grandma was climbing the stairs of the Blue One. The Blue One -- higher and covered and with at least two complete curves. There's no hand-holding on the Blue One.
"Can I be done?" I looked down to see Mark's eyes pleading with me. "Grandma's going down the slide!"
"Ok, but tell Michael it's his turn."
The picture through the window showed Mark running as fast as he could out to the playground to join his dad and his little brother Michael. Grandma disappeared behind the entrance to the slide. There were some encouraging cheers from her grandsons in the swings, and her son was standing at the bottom with his arms out wide. And they waited. And they waited. Then there they were--little grandma legs flailing after a few seconds of neopropylene thrills.
"A-ha-ha-ha!" my own laugh surprised me. It echoed against the living room ceiling and into the kitchen, and I realized I was the only one in the house. The laughs were involuntary, and as soon as I thought one was done, a new one bubbled up to the surface. Michael came running into the living room.
"Grandma just went down the slide!"
"I watched her," and I laughed.
Grandma came in later to plop down exhaustedly into the chair next to the piano. It took her five or six minutes to come back inside the house after the slide. "I've been wanting to do that all week!" she sighed, and her wrinkled old face spread into a wide ribbon of satisfaction.