If I had one of their colorful paintings on my refrigerator held up by magnets, then they want to make sure it's still there. Of utmost importance to both Aiden and Rebecca, are what I keep on my window sills, the significant religious and pagan items I love. Sea shells and stars I've collected, beach rocks, hawk feathers, a silver Cobra with ruby eyes, pieces of drift wood, statues of Mary and Guadalupe, turquoise candles, and pink quartz and tiny amethyst crystals surround my window sills.
The latest development in the last year has been that both Rebecca and Aiden always want to take home a small memento of me and my home, back to their own houses. It reassures them in a way I can't quite explain.
For Aiden, he always wants to take home MAG-A-NETS that I made several years ago. I created small paintings of fruit, color copied them, pasted them on periwinkle blue card stock, then laminated them. I glued the strongest magnets I could find to the back. On the way out the door, he asks me, "Grandma, can I take some mag-a-nets? I really need some. We don't have enough. " I always say yes. He's taken maybe a dozen home, and I've yet to see them on his own fridge. Perhaps, like a little squirrel, he's saving them in a tucked away space somewhere in his room. Who knows? The times we make cookies together, it seems to satisfy his need by taking home some. This week it was lemon frosted cookies in a paper bag.
Last week Rebecca spent the night. Right off she made sure that the little pink, bejeweled notebook she gave me last Christmas was sitting on my computer desk. She picked it up, flipped through the pages, then set it back in the same spot. Touched my little silver bell music box, turned it upside down, twisted the winder, listened to "Silver Bells" for a minute and then put it back. Rebecca gets on her knees on my bed, then methodically touches my Abalone shells, my gold framed picture of myself and my sisters, tiny rosaries, every little thing.
This time Rebecca focused on a 5 inch high statue of Mary in her red dress, blue robes, standing on top of the world, bare left foot crushing a snake. "Can I take it home, Grandma?" I thought about it and decided, yes, she could. I asked if she would take good care of it. Rebecca nodded. "Okay then. You should put something around her so she won't break on the way to your house, " I told her.
She got out my scotch tape and reached up on the kitchen counter for paper towels. Rebecca, in deep concentration, reverently rolled the paper towels over and over Mary's small frame. She spent several more minutes and the rest of the roll, taping it all in place. Finally, she nestled Mary into her tiger skin purse for the ride home.
Children love repetition, and a ritual is repetition over and over again. Ritual gives all of us a sense of security, comfort, and familiarity so very important for our well-being. It is especially potent when ritual is personal so that it speaks to us when we don't have the language to explain. I'm not positive what it all means, just that we do the same dance each time, and it all has an edge of mystery to it. All I know is they want part of me to keep and it makes me really happy.