The little interloper

View from the beach: Muskegon

It started out innocently enough. Jasmine was riding her bike along the sidewalk in front of our house. She’s eight and lives next door with her parents and sister, at her grandmother’s house. She and her four-year-old sister, Madivelle, are cute, sweet kids.

As she tooled along, Pete would bark at her from the screen door whenever she passed directly in front of our property. So I went downstairs to hush him. That’s when the conversation started.

As far as I can tell, Jasmine gets her talkative nature from her grandmother. Whenever Maria spies you outside, she’ll start a dialogue…one you can count on being a part of for half an hour or more if you’re not careful. Jas is definitely related.

She asked about Pete, then about what I was doing. So I came outside to talk with her. Then she told me about her mom’s new cellphone, asked to take my picture, and asked me to walk down the sidewalk with her as she rode her bike. I obliged. No problem. She seemed so articulate and mature, compared to my long-ago eight-year-old self. I was shy, too, so it wasn’t like I was going to strike up a chatfest with the next-door neighbor. Nah, not me.

Jas, however, is not shy. When we returned to my yard, as she continued to babble about a variety of topics, she dropped her bike to the ground and went to our front door to see the dogs. That’s when she really surprised me.

She put her little hand on my front door, turned the handle and walked right into my house.

I was speechless. I scrambled up the steps after her, afraid that Pete would do something stupid. I asked her if it was OK with her mom that she come into my house like that. She didn’t even look up as she said, “Sure!” Then she walked around my living room and into the kitchen, the dogs nervously trailing her and trying to figure out what to do with this chattering little person who’d just wandered into their domain.

I suggested biscuits and handed her a couple to feed to the duo. Then I heard her mom calling her. Embarrassed, I took her to the door and apologized to her mom. Sorry. She wanted to see the dogs. I should have checked with you first. And in this day and age, when everyone is so protective of their children, her reply was, “That’s OK. I just wanted to know where she was.” This woman had never met me before and she’s casually walking away, leaving her daughter alone with me.

Jasmine was ready to ride her bike again. She headed for the door, looked over her shoulder, and told me she’d be back soon. Um, what did that mean? I told her I’d see her sometime soon and went back to what I was doing.

Ten minutes later, the dogs rushed to the door again. I headed downstairs to see what they were doing when I heard the door open and her voice, “I’m back!” The cheeky little munchkin just walked right into my house without knocking! Again, I was stupefied.

Then, she walked through the dining room and out into the backyard. There I was again, following behind her, trying to figure out how a kid gets so darn ballsy. She surveyed the yard, investigated the veggie garden, then went back inside and headed into my basement. This, viewed from an observer’s perspective, would have looked hilarious. I have no doubt about that. Kid being followed by nervous thirty-something woman, and two equally nervous dogs.

She went into the basement and sat on the futon. “I love what you’ve done with the place,” she said. Really. She did. I had no idea what to say. I suggested we go back upstairs, where her mom was again looking for her. This time she would be gone for good (well, for the evening, at least). They were on their way to visit friends. I sighed with some relief after she left. Then I locked the screen door. I have a funny feeling she’ll be back.