• Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • Categories

  • Meta

  • Advertisements

What’s in Your Wallet?

Elaine, age 6, watched as I searched inside my clutch wallet for money. I finally found $2.13 in bills and coins to pay the clerk. As we walked out of the store, Elaine asked, “What’s all that stuff in your wallet?”

I chuckled and said, “Stuff I need.” And my Grand asked, “For what?” For what, indeed.

Later I thought of Elaine’s questions and two other wallets came to mind. My mom’s and a college girlfriend’s. I stuck Mom’s billfold in my purse when she was admitted to the hospital April 1991. After her death a few days later, I kept it, just as she’d used it. Inside were the necessary things you find in everyone’s billfold: driver’s license, insurance cards, cash. And a few other things: her social security card, emergency contacts, and high school graduation pictures of my brother and me, although both photos had been made more than three decades earlier, and a picture of Mom and Dad. I cried sentimental tears that Mom had kept these pictures.

About ten years ago while travelling with a college girlfriend, I convinced her that her billfold was too big. No wonder she couldn’t find anything and her purse was so heavy. She didn’t need to carry every store discount card and notes from past shopping trips. Together we shopped for a smaller wallet and cleaned out her oversized one. Now, I laugh that my billfold looks like my friend’s did. Full of too much stuff.

So first, my apologies to you dear friend. What’s in my big 8” x 4” clutch organizer with its twelve card slots, zipper compartment, and three divided sections? The card slots are full. An expired museum membership card and insurance card dated 10/16 thru 10/17 to trash. Other cards that are used once a year go in a small zipper pouch in my car. Only two credit cards must stay.

Coins fill the zipper compartment. Pennies multiply. How I wish they’d transform into dollar bills. Just as sure as I clean out all the change, I will need a dime and three pennies to avoid getting back 87 cents in change.

One divided section for bills, one for receipts, and one for other important stuff. Important stuff like a dentist appointment card from 2016, expired restaurant coupons, and a scribbled grocery list – now trashed. And stuff I need: a band-aid, two postage stamps, emergency contact list, a copy of my passport (held over from when I marked the wrong box on my driver’s license renewal form and my driver’s license didn’t have a photo), a card listing a few passwords that regularly escape my mind. And a small plastic cardholder with three photos: one of Husband and two of our children when they were high school students, twenty plus years ago.

So Elaine the stuff in my wallet is important. It’s stuff to for identification, to buy more stuff, emergency stuff, and some sentimental stuff. Just like the stuff in most people’s wallets.

####

Advertisements

A Young Grand’s Love

“GRAN!” Jesse screams as he jumps down the backdoor steps at his house. I spread my arms wide and my 3 year-old Grand runs to me. He jumps. I lift him and he wraps his legs around my waist and buries his head in my shoulder.

“Oh, Jesse, I’m so happy to hug you!” I say. Just as happy as I was the day before when he ran to me.

These are the times grandparents must never forget. Must cherish. Almost every time Husband or I see Jesse he asks, “Go to Pop and Gran’s house today?” And he accepts our frequent answer, “Not today, Jesse. Would you like to come another day?” He smiles and screams, “Yes!” Another day can be tomorrow or a day next week.

Jesse has a routine when he visits Husband’s and my house by himself. He climbs the steps to the upstairs playroom. “Come on!” he says. He sets the 1970s Fisher Price plastic garage on a low table and dumps the matchbox cars out of a basket. He parks each car in a blue or red space and counts them. “1, 2, 3, 4,” he says. Then he counts again, “1, 7, 5, 2.”

“Let’s read books now,” my Grand says as he runs to the kids’ bookshelf.   He chooses the same books every time: Look Out for Mater and Tales from the Track, both about the red car Lightening McQueen and his car friends. He throws the books onto the couch. “Sit here, Gran!” he says and slaps beside the books. I sit and he crawls onto my lap.

My Grand laughs aloud when Mater, a brown tow truck travels down a curvy road backwards. And whispers “Shhh” when Big Bull, a monster-sized bulldozer, sleeps. Before I finish reading the second book, Husband comes into the playroom. “Poppy!” Jesse shouts and crawls out of my lap, holds the book, and runs to Husband. Poppy, Jesse’s love name for Husband. Seven other Grands call him Pop, but Jesse coined Poppy, and now it’s his turn to read aloud.

No matter the time of day or how long the visit, Jesse wants a snack. “I’m hungry,” he says. He carries a booster seat to a kitchen chair and fastens its safety belt around his waist. He peels a tangerine, and like most toddlers, stuffs his mouth full and then talks. “Cookies! Can I have cookies?” he says. His snacks are always the same: a tangerine, cookies, and water. Water in a blue plastic cup and a blue straw.

When it’s time for me to take my Grand home, he runs to Husband. “Bye, Poppy,” and holds his arms up to be lifted. If Husband simply hugs, Jesse reminds him to kiss-hug and wiggles to the floor after each kisses the other’s cheek.

Jesse’s greetings and kiss-hugs won’t last much longer. Soon he’ll do as his older siblings who casually say, “Hi, Gran” or wave half-heartedly. But I remember, they too, ran to me when they were toddlers.

####

 

 

 

 

 

Two Day Gift

Screen Shot 2017-12-07 at 8.03.09 AMNot all gifts are wrapped in shiny red paper. Not stuffed inside a gift bag. In September, I called Son and offered that he and Daughter 2 (some say daughter-in-law) take a mini-vacation while Husband and I stayed at his house. An offer of two nights away from home, from their three children, ages six, four, and two, and their dog, Baxter. A time to celebrate their wedding anniversary.

So in November on a Saturday afternoon, Son and Daughter 2 kissed and hugged Dean, Neil, and Ann and said, “Bye and be good. Do what Pop and Gran tell you and we’ll see you Monday.”

As Son and Daughter 2 drove out of their driveway, two-year-old Ann wailed for thirty seconds and said repeatedly, “Bye, bye, Mommy.” Husband, Dean, and Neil were having a snowball fight, throwing baseball size white balls of yarn at each other. I hugged Ann. She wiped her arm across her wet nose, and then said, “Let’s play, Gran!”

These three Grands were all ours. Time to play and read and take walks and build wooden cars. To giggle and sing silly songs and tell Purple Cow bedtime stories. To wrap small clean, wet bodies in towels and help wiggle into pajamas. To rub backs at bedtime and cuddle in bed early mornings. To bend the house rules a bit and bribe with Skittles.

Dean, a first grader, repeated my plan to his younger siblings. “Gran said she’d put Skittles in a jar when we did what we’re ‘posed to and we can eat ‘em after supper. I’ll count ‘em and give ‘em out.”

Co-commander Dean asked, “So how many Skittles is that?” after all 60 of the yarn snowballs had been picked up. And he followed me to the kitchen to be sure I put five in the jar.

The Skittle jar sat beside the list of suggestions and advice Son and Daughter 2 had written. Schedules. Neighbors’ phone numbers. Bedtimes. Meal menus. Favorite play activities. TV cable channels. Baxter’s feeding directions. How to cook a hot dog so Dean would eat it. Snacks Ann likes, but Neil hates. What to pack in Dean’s school lunch bag.

Every moment with our Grands wasn’t perfect. When Ann and Neil had breakdowns, Husband and I fumbled for reassuring words, but we knew hugs smooth toddlers. And we struggled through Monday morning to get Neil to preschool and Dean to the school bus stop.

After her brothers had left for school, Ann held a play phone to her ear and said, “Hi Mommy. Uh, huh. Yes. Yes. No. Pop and Gran. Yes. Bye, Mommy.” She ran to me, threw her arms around my neck, and said, “Love you Gran.”

I cherish the time that Husband and I had with Dean, Neil, and Ann. That’s the gift. Our Grands’ parents gave us their children for two days and nights. They trusted us. And they left another gift: detailed lists so we didn’t have to call them, not even once.

####

 

Her Other Name is Gran

Elaine and I splashed in the sea, not the ocean, the sea, according to my six-year-old Grand. We held hands, jumped waves, watched tiny fish swim, buried our toes in the sandy sea floor and marveled that we could see our feet through the clear water of the gulf beach.

When a girl, about ten years old, joined us, Elaine welcomed her by talking about the fish. “What’s your name?” I asked. She said her name was Chelsea. I said, “I’m Susan.”

My Grand picked up the social cue. “I’m Elaine and her other name is Gran,” she said as she splashed water with both hands toward me. And in that moment, I realized I’m no longer Susan, Daughter, Mother. I’m Gran.

Yes, I’ve been a grandparent for more than twelve years, but somehow until Elaine’s announcement, I didn’t think of myself first as a grandparent. My immediate thought was I’m glad I chose Gran, a name I like.

As I reflect on a recent beach trip with Husband and Grands and their parents, I chuckle to myself that it was my coming-out-grandparent week. I embraced the grandmother role. While the Grands and their parents took a lunch break from the beach, Husband and I sat under an umbrella and relished the relative quiet and calm. We watched a family of four with a toddler and arm-holding baby at the water’s edge. The mother held baby and tried to dig into the sand with her toddler. Giving up, she laid baby on a beach chair under an umbrella, and my grandmother instincts kicked in.

“I’ll be glad to hold your baby if you want to play in the water. I’m sitting beside your umbrella,” I said.

The mother smiled and told me she thought her baby was sleepy. “Are you sure you don’t mind?” she asked. Mind?

“How about I hold him for a few minutes and see how it goes,” I said. So I settled in a beach chair and the mother explained that 7-month old Jonathan liked to watch people. His back against my chest so he could see his mother and my arms wrapped around him, Jonathan was asleep in five minutes. For an hour, I had the perfect excuse not to move.

Then there was the day that my Grands paddled an ocean kayak. “Gran, do you want to go for a ride?” my twelve-year-old Grand asked. David had proved himself capable, first with his dad, then with younger sisters. An ocean kayak ride would be a first for me. “All you have to do is sit in the front. I’ll paddle,” David said.

So I settled on the seat, propped my feet in the footholds, and we sailed away. “How far out do you want to go?” David asked. I shrugged. “Okay, just remember to sit still. Don’t lean to one side quickly.”

This is the last of four September columns to celebrate and honor grandparents. How appropriate that Elaine nailed my identity as Gran for the finale.

####

 

You Let Them Do What?

Who serves ice cream for breakfast? Who lets children jump on furniture? Who watches the same movie fifteen times? Who pays children for jobs that don’t even need doing?

We grandparents plead guilty. Not all grandparents to all charges, but some.

I asked Facebook friends what do grandparents let grandchildren do that they as children weren’t allowed to do. And friends responded.

So many breakfast choices. Caroline’s grandfather served ice cream topped with Fruit Loops and told her mother that they ate cereal.   Nell’s grandchildren eat fudge for dessert after breakfast and her own children never heard of breakfast dessert. Karen’s mother made chocolate pie and chocolate pudding for her grandchildren’s breakfasts. Grandparents offer sugar-coated cereal to grandchildren and parents say it wasn’t even in the house when they were young.

Milkshakes with sprinkles are a meal and one grandmother even serves ice cream to her grandchildren for any meal – not as dessert, as the meal. Sara’s mother keeps mini ice cream sandwiches and brown cow ice cream bars, just for the grandchildren. And if grandchildren don’t like what is served for supper, they can refuse and choose something else.

Laura’s parents give her middle-school age children chocolate candy every afternoon when they pick them up after school. Laura said, “They create nothing jobs and overpay the kids for the made-up jobs.” Looking back, Laura should’ve known what to expect. When her firstborn was two, he colored on her parents’ white bookshelf and television screen, and her parents said, “It’s okay. If it doesn’t come off, we’ll buy new ones.”

Grandchildren jump on beds and if they jump onto a CD player, it’s okay.   One grandmother admits that she protected an antique coffee table and her daughters weren’t allowed to put their feet on it. But her grandchildren sit in small chairs and eat at that table, with placemats, of course.

Brenda admitted that her grandson eats what he wants, when he wants, goes to bed when he wants, chooses television programs and movies, and has her undivided attention. And grandparents are shoppers. When they shopped, Deloris’s grandmother always bought her a new outfit and any toy she wanted. Grandparents take gifts to grandchildren every time they visit.

To go one generation further, one great-grandmother didn’t allow her children in the fancy living room. And when grandchildren opened their Christmas gifts in that room, no food or drinks were allowed. But that room is the great-grandchildren’s gymnastics room where they turn somersaults and pretend to be airplanes. And it’s okay to eat cookies and drink juice in the living room.

So what do parents think of grandparents relaxing the rules? Here are my two favorite comments: I didn’t get to eat ice cream for breakfast, but I’m happy Mom lets my kids! Let it be said, I fully intend to do the same when my tribe grows up and brings me some grandbabies!

All parents may not agree, but I hope my Grands’ parents do.

####

Memories Sealed in My Heart

Grandparents Day, celebrated September 10, should stretch to a week, maybe a month. We grandparents have so many stories and pictures. Recently, an acquaintance showed me a picture of her granddaughter and began telling about things they do together. She took a breath and I had to laugh at what my close friend said: “Hold up. You know Susan has eight Grands. We might be here a while.”

            Some of my best times with Grands are one-on-one and I don’t always take pictures. While visiting Son’s family that lives an airplane ride away, Daughter-in-law suggested that her two boys go with her to take their boxer to the vet. Neil said, “No. I’m staying home. Just me and Gran and we’ll play!” He grabbed my hand.

Neil is four years old. Middle child with an older brother, younger sister. Brother went with his mother. Sister took a nap.

“Neil, what’ll we play?” I asked.

“Cars and the guessing game,” my Grand said. “Cars, first!” Neil and Brother have a huge basket full of Matchbox cars and he dumped them at my feet.

“Choose five, Gran!” Neil said. He chose 25, or maybe 40. Together we propped a plastic, narrow car track on a big pillow to make a steep decline from the pillow to the floor. We noted which car went farthest. Which one fell off the track every time – although it took many tries to determine that it fell every time.

Neil and I grouped cars by color, by shape, by design.  We counted seconds to determine which car went down the track fastest. How long can anyone push little cars down a track and think it’s fun? After almost an hour, Neil said it was time play the guessing game, where players take turns acting like an animal and the other guesses what it is.

Neil slithered like a snake and he immediately guessed elephant when I held my arms in front of my face. Then Neil got on all fours and jumped high. “A rabbit,” I said. He nodded.

“Now watch this,” Neil said and he did the exact same thing. I guessed rabbit; he shook his head. Kangaroo? No. Frog? No. “It’s a bunny!” my Grand said. “Guess this!”

Again Neil jumped high from all fours. It wasn’t a rabbit or bunny or anything I guessed. I gave up. “A bunny rabbit!” Neil said. I never knew a rabbit, bunny, and bunny rabbit were different, until Neil explained, “They are in the guessing game.”

A few days later, while Neil’s family visited Husband and me, I sat alone in a rocking chair on our front porch after supper. Enjoying a few moments of quiet and calm. Neil came to the porch and said, “Gran, I just wanna’ sit with you.” And he climbed beside me and sat quietly. I wrapped my arms around my Grand.

I don’t have pictures of Neil as a bunny rabbit or snuggled beside me. Those memories are the kind we grandparents seal in our hearts.

####

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Might Be a Grandparent if…..

Screen Shot 2017-09-07 at 8.21.03 AMSunday, September 10, is National Grandparent’s Day. A day that the United States Congress proclaimed in 1978 to honor all us grandparents. We are easy to identify, even if we don’t open our mouths and tell stories about the cutest kids in the world.

To borrow a Jeff Foxworthy’s phrase, you might be a grandparent if you are past child-bearing age and have child restraint seats in your car. Although you drive a mini-van that seats seven adults, you rarely offer a ride to more than one friend. Taking out two toddler seats secured in the second row isn’t an easy chore. Moving a booster seat from the passenger front seat is simple.

You might be a grandparent if you keep toy dump trucks and plastic buckets and shovels in your garage. If you have an endless supply of glue and scotch tape and drawing paper. If you own two dozen washable magic markers. If you kept two old plastic trays specifically for craft projects.

You might be a grandparent if there are popsicles in your freezer. And when banana is the only choice, you buy more.   If ten bottles of sprinkles are stored right beside flour in your kitchen cabinet. If you buy yogurt in plastic tubes and applesauce in pouches.

You might be a grandparent if a high chair sits at your kitchen table and a booster seat is close by to slide into another chair. If you have sippy cups and toddler-size forks and spoons. If your placemats are printed with maps and clocks and multiplication tables and pictures of United States presidents and Sesame Street characters.

You might be a grandparent if you have a step stool beside your bathroom sink. If there’s a small vinyl potty seat stored next to the commode. If you have tear-free shampoo, bathtub crayons, and infant washcloths. If a rubber duck and a wind-up water toy sits on the edge of your bathtub.

You might be a grandparent if games like Race Penguin and NinJump are on your iphone and iPad and your screensaver is a toddler with a chocolate-covered face. If the deck of playing cards you use to play Rummy and War is sticky and two cards are missing.

You might be a grandparent if your refrigerator is decorated with stick figure drawings and construction paper collages. If your windows boast little handprints. If your weekly schedule includes pick up at school on Wednesdays and Saturday morning soccer games.

You might be a grandparent if a bookshelf holds a nursery rhyme book, Curious George, and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See? If you have memorized Good Night Moon. If there are candy wrappers and a plastic bowl covered with mold under a bed. If Legos are scattered under your living room couch.

You might be a grandparent if you smile all over when a Grand asks, “Can I spend the night with you?” And if the sweetest words you’ve ever heard are “Gran, I love you.”

####