Few things knock me off my game like being ambushed before morning coffee. My attackers are 8 and 6 and ready to seize the day. They are hiding behind a door and nab me on the heels. Literally.
I scream. They scream. We all scream. Yet the rest of the house continues sleeping. Or at least pretending.
“Aren’t you two up early?” I ask.
“We’re early risers, Grandma. You’re an early riser, too, aren’t you?”
“Sure am,” I say, propping my eyes open with stir sticks.
“Grandma, did you know early risers have more fun?”
“I believe it!” I said.
“What are you going to make us for breakfast?”
After a lengthy itemization of food they’d like me to make for breakfast, it is apparent our best option is Cracker Barrel. Or our second option, which is even better – walking to the grocery for donuts.
“Early riser love to walk!” one of them shouts.
We are six steps out the front door. “Can you run, Grandma?”
Of course, I can run. I run every day chasing after their Grandpa with a Honey-Do list.
“Early risers love to run,” the younger early riser declares.
“Maybe, but I don’t know if we should be running when it is still so early and most people are sleeping.”
They decide to run one at a time. He takes off like a shot and she stays behind with me. We come upon a mallard waddling through the heavy dew in a neighbor’s yard. “Catch it and you can keep it,” I tell her, just like I used to tell her dad.
She sprints after the duck, gains considerable ground, and the duck takes to the sky.
She runs back to the sidewalk, panting. “Grandma, did you know early risers do more interesting things?”
“Clearly,” I say.
We leave the neighborhood and wind behind a strip mall, past back entrances to a dry cleaner and a pizza place, cardboard boxes that missed the dumpster, a lawn chair used for smoke breaks and a couple of pigeons.
They stampede toward the pigeons, which quickly flutter away.
“Your pigeons scare a lot easier than ours in Chicago,” surmises the older early riser.
“Our pigeons are more flight than fight,” I say.
We plan strategy for crossing four lanes of traffic, which is dicey business, but there is virtually no traffic at this hour of the day.
We enter the grocery and spend two minutes shy of forever choosing donuts for the non-early-risers back at the house. The agreed-upon favorite is the monster claw, a glazed long-john with chocolate iced fingers at one end.
We leave the store and discover the morning sun blasting right into our faces. We shield our eyes, cross the deserted four-lane, walk in front of the strip mall this time and wind back through the neighborhood beneath a canopy of shade trees. They laugh, tell a few funny stories about their mom and dad (the price parents pay for sleeping in) and frequently stop to look at leaves.
“Grandma, did you know early-risers see more beautiful things?”
Their faces radiate curiosity, joy and the fleeting wonder of childhood.
“So I’ve heard,” I say. “So I’ve heard.”