Through the viewfinder: Catch up Papi
Published 12:04 am Tuesday, December 17, 2013
NATCHEZ — While most grandparents, parents and students move between classrooms and Garcia Gymnasium at Cathedral School, Mariella Jewell Atkins has other plans.
With a green and navy herringbone jacket and matching hat, the highly active 3 year old runs around the school’s playground moving from the slide to swings to sea-saw in a matter of minutes.
“We’re burning off donut sugar,” Mariella’s father, Leon Atkins explains. “Although she’d be moving just like this without the two donuts she just ate.”
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Mariella quickly climbs to the top of the slide and shouts for her father to watch. Upon reaching the bottom of the slide, Mariella is off to the swings.
The father and daughter took to Cathedral’s playground Friday for a break from the activity and crowded hallways of Grandparent’s Day..
“Here, up,” she says to Atkins with a big grin.
“I’m her trained monkey,” Atkins said. “Whatever she wants me to do, I do it.”
At first, Atkins starts with slow pushes, smiling as Mariella laughs and shakes her pink sparkled shoes in the air.
A light breeze blows past and sweeps Mariella’s hair out of her face when she turns to smile back at her father.
“I do things for her because she’s so sweet,” Atkins said and laughed. “And because if I don’t, she’s not so sweet.”
Soon enough, Mariella grows restless on the swings and runs over to the sea-saw. She promptly climbs on top of the seat and looks over to Atkins and waves.
“Papi!” She shouts.
“She calls me Papi,” Atkins said. “My other kids call me Papa. My wife says that she knows if she calls me ‘Papi’ I’ll do anything for her.”
Atkins sits across from her and starts to bounce the sea-saw up and down.
“How come you’re up higher than me?” Atkins teased.
As Atkins climbs off the sea-saw, so does Mariella. She runs over to him before dashing off to the slide. While climbing up steps of the slide, Mariella slips and falls.
“You’re alright,” Atkins reassured her. “Climb up to the top.”
In a second or two, Mariella stands up and races to the top of the slide.
“She’s tougher than all her brothers put together,” Atkins said of Mariella, the youngest of seven, who has five older brothers.
Before running to the next jungle gym, Mariella runs back to Atkins and works to get him to come with her.
“She’s a daddy’s girl,” Atkins said. “Everywhere dad goes, she goes.”