A text from an unknown number read, “I found my phone!!!!” I knew the area code, but not the sender. My son-in-love called later that day, asking if I had gotten a call from my granddaughter, since, for her ninth birthday, she had been given her own cellphone. Her phone had been preprogrammed with all the good phone numbers. Once he gave me her number, I realized that Imani had sent the mystery message. I gave her phone number its own ringtone. Every other call I receive is announced by the sound of marimbas, but my granddaughter’s special sound is “twinkle.” And on Monday, September 26th — a school day — I was surprised and pleased to hear her “twinkle” at 10:18 a.m.: “Hi, Cool Papa!” Imani was ill, and home with her father. Though it has been reported that we two spoke on the phone for “two hours, or so,” the truth is, it was 54 minutes. And I was the first to tap out.
Imani’s 13-year-old brother had received a cellphone when he was 9, and I guess her parents decided they could not deny the privilege to the girl-child. I was not entirely on board with the idea of a cellphone for the boy-child, (nor was I consulted about the decision) but Xavion is the most obedient child I have ever known, one who has from a very young age monitored his parents’ driving habits: “Mom: are you speeding?” He received the gift of an aerial drone, and when he heard that drones must be licensed, he would not take it out to fly. (He knows now that the size and range of the drone determine whether it should be licensed.) A cellphone for him was not likely to be misused. The girl, now…
Imani’s mother — my oldest daughter — called me on a Wednesday night. I did not know that she was the one calling, as there are not more than nine people left in the world who do not know that I shoot pool in a league on Monday and Wednesday, and may not be disturbed unless it is a dire emergency. I ignored the ring, but when able to do so, checked the caller ID, and called her back. She apologized — sorta — saying that there was a kind of emergency. “Imani is running for an office at her school, and we decided that we needed the ‘word grandparent’s’ advice.” This was a relief; I had feared that my granddaughter was ill, again.
I’ve gotten the “twinkle” on a few occasions since then, and the sound of it always gives me a frisson of delight. So when I was conscripted to help with the election speech, I waited for the twinkle. When it came, I interviewed Imani, asking for the description of the position and what she enjoyed that fit the job. Her mother had told me that the position would be perfect for Imani, and after hearing the duties and responsibilities, I agreed. Imani and I worked on her speech when she got home from school: “IT HAS TO BE DONE BY TOMORROW!” When the bell on the microwave dinged, she rang off: “my soup is done, Cool Papa.”
As I was typing this, my back pocket vibrated and “twinkled.” Imani, walking from the bus stop, breathlessly told me, “I turned in my speech today!” She had made some edits that were suggested by her mother, and told me that she wanted me to come see her make the speech. I told her that I would try, because I really want to see my little star twinkle.
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