The Uses for a Ten Year Old

The nine year old in my life has joined the Tweener set. She is a double digit girl now, on her way to teenager-hood.

She is doing division now in math, although those pesky times tables continue to bother her. 7 x 9 is her nemesis. So is 9 x 7, 63 divided by 9, and 63 divided by 7. I made her some flash cards out of a Christmas box and showed her how those four math problems are all related. I think she got it.

The dogs follow her everywhere. Maybe it’s because she gives treats freely and often. She gets down on the floor with them or tucks them in with blankets and pillows.

Her mom works for me and uses her truck to transport my stuff. Today she brought two Adirondack chairs and a 6 x 3 foot window, plus lots of cardboard.

Did you know that cardboard placed on the ground deters weeds from growing and also turns into mulch?  My front and back yards in Monterey are filled with weeds with yellow flowers blooming everywhere along with ferns and lilies.

While her mom and I cleaned the garage this morning, the ten year old was busy in the house lining up the dinosaurs in order of size and type, driving the wooden train around them, drawing sketches of octopuses (octopi?) and giving the dogs way too many treats.

After the new oven was delivered late with a small altercation with the neighbor over the heavy truck on the shared driveway, we were free to leave the house. I got to practice my Spanish to ask the delivery guy how much his truck weighed, my neighbor saying something about trucks over five tons cracking the asphalt. Never mind that the neighbor has layers of trash spilling out of his garage onto said driveway.  He ordered the guys to get the truck off his driveway as he stood there with his pit bull/boxer, holding him by the choke chain and no leash.

“They’ll be here five minutes,” I said.  “It’s okay guys, you can stay.”

The neighbor continued to yell at the two guys as they lowered the oven onto the driveway. Then my two dogs came flying out of the house toward the open gate and the behemoth dog and his angry owner. I caught the smaller one and yelled for my woman to get the other one.

What had happened? The ten year old, of course. She’d let them out by opening the folding doors I’d rubber-banded together.

“Sit down in this chair and don’t move!” I barked at the girl.

She looked afraid. I was her surrogate grandma, and I was yelling at her.

Her mom got the dogs back behind the gate, and I got the folding doors closed.

“It’s your driveway, too?” the Hispanic guy asked, now in my kitchen.

“Yup,” I said.

In reality the driveway belongs to the neighbor, but I have a legal easement, which was granted in the 60’s when the developer bought the land adjacent to my ninety-year-old house and swallowed up the old driveway which used to run for hundreds of yards to the main road. My current street wasn’t even there yet when the house was built on land bought from the railroad in 1929 for $25.00.

I stood between the girl and the dogs until the oven guys had the old one out and the new one in.

It took more than five minutes, fifteen by the time they assembled the oven in the driveway and hooked up the gas. When they finally moved the truck, the neighbor and his scary dog were long gone.

The ten year old and her mom went to the beach.  I ran out to get cash and to donate a car full of stuff that I decided to let go of. My helper woman had sorted the tubs into categories by child and/or holiday. The youngest has, by far, the biggest pile after my pile of antique books.

My assessed property value is much higher than I think it’s really worth. I went to an open house down the street on the way to the bank, and the realtor told me to get an appraisal for $400.

“You can challenge your assessed value,” she said.

I might do that one of these days.

They came back from the beach before I got back because it was raining. The ten year ld climbed through the doggie door to let her mom in. She had all of her shells spread out across my table when I got back – two abalone shells plus lots of other assorted sea life.  No one else had claimed them in the rain.

The ten year old and her mom are leaving today after their second round of beach time. Mom fried up a bunch of sausages this morning and left them on the counter to cool.

“You’re living dangerously,” I said, pointing to the Jack Russell.

They bagged up the sausages to snack on while going home.

It’s been two days. Surrogate Grandma is ready for a nap.

 

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