My granddaughter Lauren is, at 11, reasonable, calm, confident, and excellent company.  In a short time she may very well be none of the above, for puberty is afoot and moving in on the serenity she has shown in years past.  She is becoming conscious of her beauty and of what she wears and how she may look to others.  More often than I would like she is attached to headphones that pipe in today’s drivel—Lorde, Stefani, and who knows who tomorrow—into her ears and brain and cause her to lose contact with the rest of us who must wait patiently for her to return.  Her parents and I, if we let ourselves think about it, become nostalgic for the little girl we knew and loved and who is being replaced by someone we don’t know and who, speaking for myself, scares us a little.

Only last week, summer beating down on us, Lauren exited her house wearing postage stamp shorts and new sunglasses atop her hair which, she has informed us,  she intends to grow out to waist length.  She carries an umbrella, a beach towel and a book.  She spreads the beach towel onto a space in the front yard, opens the umbrella and positions herself on the towel.  Turning onto her right side, her long legs fighting for position on the towel, she perches on an elbow, opens the book and begins to “read.”  She looks exactly like Sue Lyon in Lolita.  Alas, all her efforts are for naught for this is Chester and nobody passes by.  But they will, they will pass by—and some of them will stop—for she who is about to turn 12 will not be denied.  So we, her family,  are doubly appreciative of the fact that she has won every race against every boy and girl in the entire 5th grade, that she loves Diary of a Wimpy Kid and that she says Please and Thank You without rolling her eyes.  She has a sweetness within her that will remain forever.  I too want to remain, not forever, but until her high school graduation, something I suppose every grandparent wishes.  So here’s wishing us all an extension of reasonable health.  Give us this day so that we can see how we turned out, for our grandchildren are us, are they not.  Only better.

©Jane Juska, 2015

Jane Juska lives in Chester, California. Her first novel, Mrs. Bennet Has Her Say, will debut on August 4 and she will read from it at Orinda Books on August 8 and at Mrs. Dalloway’s on August 9.

5 Responses to “Suddenly, This Summer by Jane Juska”

  1. Bob Pressnall Says:

    Dear Jane,
    Ah, lovely. I see the shelf in your house in Elmwood where Lauren’s first photos were displayed. So, great to read this and see her pic. Wow!

    And so interesting that this morning a former student of mine, who I count as a friend, now, came over for breakfast with her 18 month old boy, such an intelligent sweetheart, and she noted that he’s recently discovered the word “No.”
    Love, Bob

    And thanks for your note. Looking forward to Mrs. Bennet! Sorry I will be out of town until Aug 12. I’ll Google your name for further readings…

  2. Ruby Bernstein Says:

    What a lovely granddaughter, and what a lovely piece, Jane. I forwarded it
    to the Hudsons.


  3. jblevine Says:

    A lovely portrait, Jane, in words and image.

  4. Jane, I love your last lines here. My grands are my special joy, too!

  5. Jane, as you will recall, I taught 5th grade for decades and this piece reminds me again of how much I love that age. . . Just wondering, are you available to speak at our historic Women’s Club in Mill Valley? We would LOVE to hear you. . . Wonderingly yours, Lynda

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