The little toy barn with the carry handle on top becomes a briefcase. The door to the playroom becomes the front door of a house where a little boy lives, and I quickly realize I am that little boy. Pooh is my daddy.
"I have to go to work now," he says in the most businesslike tone of voice a two-and-a-half-year-old can muster. "Good-bye, Sweetheart." He pulls the door closed and takes off down the hall.
Sweetheart? We replay this scene umpteen times, and each time I rollick inside at that particular word choice issuing from that tiny person and directed at me. Let's face it: it is hilarious when a toddler heads off to work and calls his Googie "Sweetheart."
"Who calls him 'Sweetheart'"? I ask Pooh's mama later. "Where did he get that?" I don't recall reading it in any of the bedtime stories or hearing it in any of the Disney movies. I am stumped, and so is his mama.
Fast forward to some point later in the day. Pooh is thirsty, and I hear myself say, "Here's your lemonade, Sweetheart." A fluke, I think, until later yet, I hear myself call him that again. Guilty. Busted. Pooh calls people "Sweetheart" because he has heard me do it, and I didn't even realize the word was a staple of my vocabulary.
Fast forward again. It is dusk and we are outside chasing fireflies. A particularly playful bug gives Pooh the wink-blink and hovers just enough ahead of him that, between the ever-flitting light and the gathering darkness, he can never really complete the catch. Chalk up one for insect insight. This bug is no dummy; he perceives danger lurking in those little hands. And well he should.
Nevertheless, Pooh pursues intently and relentlessly, at last resorting to sweet talk: "Come here, little fellow," he entices in a soft, high voice. "Come on, little guy." I chuckle to myself at the idea of my grandson using such terms of endearment to address a creature with compound eyes and six legs. Again, I wonder at these things he says. Where does he get this stuff?
Fast forward one last time. Pooh has fallen asleep on my lap in the rocker. I carry him to his bed and tuck the blanket around his shoulders. I kiss his cheek and run my fingers across the stubble of his new buzz-cut. The haircut makes him look older, and he is growing up so fast.
"Good night, little guy," I hear myself whisper. Another day done. Another mystery solved.