Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Rocket Man

There is a certain playground, just down the street from our first house where I used to take my own little boys to play.  The sign announces you have arrived at Kehoe Park.  Don't believe it.  Everyone in the area who has or has had a midget knows it is Rocket Park.

It doesn't take much imagination to figure out where the name came from, or why it has endured.  The rocket in that particular park has been entertaining generations since the start of the Cold War.  The new coat of paint it receives from time to time does not disguise the fact that the original munchkins who climbed that apparatus would be hard pressed to do so still.  I fall into that category, and it had several coats of paint before I first laid eyes on that child trap.

I wish I had a picture of my kids on the rocket to include with this blog.  But oh so many years ago when we visited, any camera that might have been attached to a phone would also have been tethered to the wall.  Pictures using a standard issue camera were revealed in batches of 24 or 36, no sooner than a week after the final picture was snapped.  It is possible that a picture of Colin, Corey or Court in the rocket does exist.  But I am more likely to fly that space ship to Mars than dig through endless boxes in the crawl space for pictures that might or might not exist.  I digress.

Last year I took Bryce and Tyler to Rocket Park.  Little ones never have problems with the UP in that rocket.  Their excitement and imaginations are both soaring.  Blast off! and they have reached the first landing as I'm still closing car doors.

At the second level, there is an escape hatch - the slide.  It was pretty easy to convince Tyler to avail himself of that option.  At least it was, until Bryce beckoned him upward to levels three and four.  At this point the old adage of what goes up must come down seems doubtful.  While a three year old can scamper up, getting his foot on the top rung to make the downward trip is not guaranteed.

I am ground control - I want to be ground control - I hope I can just be ground control!  And fortunately, between my direction and Bryce's hands-on guidance, splash down came without a splat.  (I just realized that rockets don't splash down anymore.  I'm aging myself.  But then, you already  know I'm a Granma.)

A couple of weeks ago, we visited that celestial-bound wonder once again, though this time Bryce was not with us.  I attempted to keep Tyler focused on levels one and two.  It didn't work.  However, I am happy to report that four year olds are able to navigate the stars - and back - with only minor assistance from ground control.  This is one happy Granma!

Sorry, Aidan.  You  need another birthday before I introduce you to that flying machine. Let's swing instead.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Just Cuz

I was born in the same town that Radar O'Riley came from - Ottumwa, Iowa, for all you M*A*S*H fans out there.  But that is a complete non-sequitur, and you are no longer responsible for that information.  My cousins were also Midwestern, but not from the great state of Iowa.  That doesn't mean we never got together.

I remember Betzi taking on her brother Dave and all my brothers in a wrestling match - all at once.  She won.  To this day, my advice is don't mess with Betzi.  I remember my younger cousin, Mike, lamenting that it wasn't fair his parents wouldn't let him see "Jaws".  It was, after all, just a mechanical shark.  Brave words for a kid of single digits.  Wendy and Kathy were older and beautiful to my gawky junior high eyes.  I was in awe - still am.  The same year my sister was born, two other girl cousins joined our ranks: Missy and Nancy.  Triplets of sorts.   I love my cousins so much that I have even shared my grandparents with them, and I wouldn't do that for just anyone!

On the home front, the other day we got together with our boys and their families for dinner at Court and Christine's house.  I think it might be because the house is set up for kids, including a backyard that is wide open for play, but it was a wonderful cousin gathering.  And if you know what I mean, it was more of a cousin gathering than a grandboy gathering, but maybe you had to be there to know the difference.  It wasn't about them playing with Granma and Grampa, it was about them playing with each other.

There were enough adult hands to hold Elijah and protect him from stray wiffle balls.  (Not to mention it's best to take turns holding Squirmy.)  Corey was all time pitcher for the wiffle ball game and Court was in charge of tracking down foul balls and home runs - or at least lifting a child over the fence and back for their retrieval.  (BTW, I hit a home run!  I also struck out and dribbled one back to pitcher's hand.  Just call me the Babe.)  There were also bubbles in the air, along with Frisbees and soccer balls.

As the evening cooled off, the need for reviving sugar called to us.  We all trooped inside to decorate and eat sugar cookies.  Tyler has a rather interesting technique: lick the cookie, add sprinkles, repeat.  Apparently he isn't a fan of frosting, but he does love colored sugar.  Go figure.

Despite bed time calling, to Granma anyway, we made our way down to the basement to build a Playmobile castle.  It was quite the sweet disaster area, punctuated at times by the whines of the younger generation refusing to admit their need for slumber.

Just as Bryce proposed a trade:  Josiah for Tyler, or Squirmy for Tyler, the party broke up. There were rounds of slobbery kisses and boy hugs of various dimensions. (Boy hugs come in a variety of squishing abilities and locations: legs, necks, ankles and midsection.  Beware the midsection.  It means the grandboy is now tall enough and strong enough to knock the wind right out of you during his loving embrace.)  Tyler was seat belted into the car, as was his brother.  Better luck with the swap next time, Bryce.

Cousins, the original playmates, being established in the next generation.  I wonder what memories they will take with them.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A Rose By Any Other Name

Nicknames are pretty commonplace in my life.  Neither my husband nor I admit to the names emblazoned on our birth certificates, preferring the names that have turned our heads since toddlerhood.  The real advantage to using a nickname is that you get an extra level of warning before the parental boom is lowered.  For example, when demanding my eldest son's attention I might say, "Colin.  Colin Bryce!  COLIN BRYCE HARRIS!"  His younger brother, though, got a fourth warning round, "Court.  Courtlandt!  Courtlandt Bryn!! COURTLANDT BRYN HARRIS!  Court employed that extra ounce of grace to his advantage more than once.

Frequently there are stand-in name that babies outgrow, which is probably a good thing.  Colin was "Munchkin" from the start.  Corey, owing to his birth before his elder brother's 1st birthday, was appropriately named "BooBoo".  Court went by "Peanut".  Those names stuck for a good many years, even into grade school, but not at grade school.  We didn't purposely aim to psychologically damage our offspring.

What do you suppose governs whether a baby gets a supplemental monikor  or not?  It's not readily apparent to me.  I gave Bryce many names in his miniature years:  Cutie, Munchkin (in honor of his father, I guess) and, of course, he was the original Grandboy.  But none of the names really stuck.  Tyler was called Midget, and thought it fits, it hasn't really stuck, either.  If Aidan has a nickname, it is Oh-Aidan, spoken with various degrees of admiration and exasperation.  Initially I thought Josiah would become just 'Siah, but not really.  Love Bug fits him pretty well, though.  He just is, but it just doesn't roll off the tongue when him is around.

But grandboy number five, Elijah, may have the first real nickname - at least in my book - his parents may disagree.  However, I am enlisting the help of his eldest brother, and that may be all the help I need!  (Aidan is part elephant and part bulldog - he never forgets and he never gives up!  And he seems to like the new name.)  May I present my youngest grandboy: Squirmy Wormy.  If you pick him up, he wants to get down and move - and will squiggle until you acquiesce.  If you put him down, he will crawl over to the nearest leg and want up.  Immediately after receiving that heart's desire, he fidgets around until you put him down again.  And so it goes...

I do pledge to you, Elijah, not to reveal your nickname to your friends when you get older.  But you can probably count on good-night kisses and 'sleep wells' to my favorite wiggly worm.  I love you, Squirmy!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

There is a cute series of kid's books out that that start with "If you give a (specific animal) a (specific food item)."  The original musing involved a Mouse and a Cookie.  There are also missives about moose and muffins, cats and cupcakes and pigs with pancakes.

If you are unfamiliar with them, it runs along the lines of offering that certain food stuff to your animal buddy, who needs an additional item (milk or spinkles or something), which goes ever so slightly awry as your fury friend's OCD kicks in.  Spilled spinkles remind him of sand that sends you both to the beach - where you dig for treasure - and find a star fish - that reminds him of the heavens - that send you both to the planetarium - that gets you kicked out for using the rings of Saturn as a hula-hoop - that reminds him of playing basketball - that takes you both home to play a game - that makes him hungry - and you end up snacking on the original food stuff.  (My apologies to the author, Laura Joffe Numeroff, for the foregoing absolutely inaccurate  recitation of events.  Please feel free to plagiarize when you give a Bear a Brownie.)

Recently I disguised my stupidity with Granma bravery by volunteering to take Aidan (3) and Josiah (2) to a bookstore to buy books.  Steps one through four went reasonably well:  in the car, out of the car, across the parking lot, into the store.  Feeling pretty good!  Until older brother spies a toy truck and is no longer interested in books.  "But I want!"  (Granma won that battle.  The truck did NOT follow us home.)  Younger brother found a toy top, conveniently located on the bottom shelf - surrounded by books.  Fortunately, he was easier to distract.

Eventually, we picked some books (including If You Give a Dog a Donut) and made our way back to the front of the store to pay from them - passing a certain toy truck which the elder midget had not yet forgotten.  Sigh.  With the promise of a cookie, the truck was left behind if not forgotten.

So, what happens when you give a grandboy a cookie?  If he's a certain two year old love bug, he sits happily munching!  If he's a certain three year old, equally loving, but more into the bugging, he chooses a brownie (4 cubic inches in size).  And between bites, he acts out a book to you.  It goes like this:

If you give an Aidan a brownie, he will want a muffin....  If you offer that three year old a book, he will want a puzzle...  If you let him carry his book, he will want his own bag...  If he carries his own bag, you can put three cubic inches of uneaten brownie in it as well.  And the muffin remains untouched behind glass where it belongs.

Now, if you give a Granma enough time, she will want to do it all over again.  Senility, after all, has it advantages!