Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Wrapping up a Birthday

So, did I mention that last Tuesday was Tyler's birthday?  Feel free to check my previous post for a reminder ;-)  We had a family birthday party last Friday night with aunts and uncles and cousins.  You know, one of those "let's gather at Granma & Grampa's and enjoy the cacophony that follows" evenings.  And it was, and we did!

There were the requisite presents and gifts and food and laughter - and a couple tears contributed by cousins (80% of whom are under the age of 5).  At present adults outnumber mini-mes, but they also add to the disharmony that is music to my ears.  What will happen when the scales tip in favor of the youngest generation?  It will be a few years before we know - no triplets in the offing this year anyway.

The star of the birthday bash was a superhero-crazy four year old.  I thought my knowledge of caped crusaders was pretty decent:  Superman, Spidey, the Flash, Batman, He Man, the Hulk...even Wonder Woman and Cat Woman, neither of whom are likely to play a part in this story.  Turns out Marvel Comics has added to the mix: Iron Man, Wolverine and Daredevil, to name a few.

Tyler wears superhero socks and shirts and underwear.  He wears sweatbands on his wrists to emulate Spider Man's web shooting ability.  Always prepared, Tyler carries a weapon:  a shovel, a Marble Works tube, a spoon, a Lego creation.  There is no way that Dr. Doom or Magneto or the Green Goblin will get the drop on my grandson!

One thing Tyler lacked, though, was a superhero cape.   Dum, dum, DUM - Granma to the rescue!  And not wanting any grandboy of mine to feel left out - a made one for each of them!  I couldn't wait for the party and the presentation!  Oh, the best laid plans...

Turns out Tyler wanted nothing to do with the cape, nor did his three year old cousin, Aidan.  Josiah, while compliant with the donning the cape, wandered around saying "off, off".  Bryce, who I feared was too old for such Granma frivolity, was the only one who really LIKED the cape.

So how then did I get a picture of all five grandboys in their capes?  Granmas persevere.
 Granmas coax and cajole.  Granmas are universally loved, respected and obeyed.  Actually, Granmas are not above bribery.

And in the end, I got my picture...

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Of Margles and Men

"Granma, let's play margles."  It's just that kind of talk that has me wrapped around his little finger - Tyler's that is.  So we make our way down to the designated area and the bin of Marble Works parts.  These are, in fact, the very same parts and margles that Tyler's father pulled out with anticipation and excitement some 30 years earlier.  Some toys stand the test of time and toddler, the latter being the more rigorous of the challenges.

Marble Works is an interactive toy.  Those young enough to be mesmerized by it are not generally old enough to build the expansive trails and towers needed to hold little boy attention.  After years, no decades, of experience, this Granma can now correctly match up the in's with the out's from bottom to top to ensure the proper margle thrill ride.

The problem comes when a particular bright-eyed child would like one final piece inserted - at the bottom of the raceway.  This feat requires advanced margle engineering AND childhood patience while alterations are in progress.  Do not attempt this maneuver after a short night's sleep, a glass of wine, or with a potentially cranky miniature partner.  It will not go well.

Even once the margles are descending the structure at break-neck speed, interaction is still required.  Number one, what goes up (the tower) tends to come down in a rush of sub-five enthusiasm.  And secondly, expertly constructed towers which take advantage of most if not all the pieces, tend to be taller than their intend purveyor, necessitating a step stool.  Excited grandboys climbing on step stool to deposit margles in the top of the tower tend to try to steady themselves on said tower.  See number one above.

Tyler turns four today.  "Margles" have given way to "marbles," I'm sad to say, though the rest of the challenges remain, at least for a while longer.  Someday the step stool will no longer be necessary.  But even with longer legs and a supply of marbles, this Granma will still be an integral part of the process.  Someone has to mastermind the placement of the final piece, somewhere near the bottom of the stack.

Happy Birthday, Tyler!  I love you!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Stuck in the Middle with You

I'm a middle child.  Actually, I'm THE middle child in my family - two brothers older and a younger brother and sister.  In the central position, we don't tend to be the overachievers of the world - having been born to late in the pecking order for that distinction.  And we aren't the class clowns, either, willing that on to our youngest sibling.  We tend to be reliable and peace makers.  We are the ones that everyone likes, but sometimes we can be forgotten between the bookends of youngest and oldest.  Cue Kermit singing "It's not easy being green."

But there are some really good things about being in the middle.  Our parents have let go of the perfect parenting ideal and not yet given up entirely on holding the monkeys in check.  Our eldest sibling would not have been allowed to feed himself spaghetti.  Our youngest will wear the tomato smile until dinner.  But in the middle, a lunch of spaghetti is much cuter and warrants a picture before the washcloth is applied.

Our eldest sibling puts on a plastic smile when a camera is present.  The youngest turns into a complete goof.  However, when a camera is pointed our direction, we have learned to say "cheese" with great gusto and without prompting.

 Sometimes we have to do things to garner some attention away from the clever eldest and the perpetually pudgy cheeked youngest.  In the middle is the matter-of-fact, I'm-still-here, I'm-adorable, I-don't-have-to-throw-a-temper-tandem-just-to-prove-it, absolutely lovable munchkin.

Thanks, Josiah, for proving my point!  It's a fact: we in the middle are just cute for cuteness' sake! Don't under estimate us!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Tracks of our Tears

Babies don’t cry for their first few weeks of life.  Well, not with tears, anyway.  They make their desires known, it just doesn't leak out of their eyes – but it will!  Pretty soon, the tears flow when they are hungry or tired or bored or uncomfortable or, especially, when they see their mama dozing off.  They are great little alarm clocks, sans a reliable on/off switch.

Three-year-old’s tears – now that’s some fun stuff!  Huge droplets of water rain from their eyes.  “He took my [fill in the blank].”    “No, that’s his, yours is right here.”  Without a word of thanks or apology, the rivers stop.  I’m convinced that only a three year old can cry in reverse.  As soon as they get their way, the tears actually recede back into the tear ducts for later use.  The definition of “later” is anywhere from 30 seconds to two and a half minutes.  Reclaimed tears will not be denied.  Neither will a three year old.

The tears of a child in run-of-the-mill physical pain are easy tears.  Not easy for the child, of course, but generally they are easily dispelled – a hug, a band-aid, a cookie.  Granma’s are especially good with the latter remedy.  This Granma has had the great fortune of escaping the more serious illness or injury tears.  I may not always be so, but I’ll continue to count that blessing for now.

I have, however, experience the tears of an eight year old boy whose world of play and laughter has been interrupted by a world of hurts of the adult degree.  Those tears burn like acid - down his cheeks and on my shoulder.  Years ago, I learned with tears of my own that I could not save my own sons from hurts of the psychological and emotional kind.  Why did I revert to thinking I could protect the next generation?  

Yet, armed only with my best intentions, my love – and cookies, I’ll keep trying. I won’t tell them that big boys don’t cry.  They do – they all do – either on the outside or the inside.  Granmas may not be superheroes, but we keep putting on the cape.  If the cape’s only use is to dry tears – it’s enough.