Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Been There, Done That

This week celebrates the second anniversary of the birth of my grandboy, Elijah.  He has grown into the job of being third born and third son in the family.  For those of you without three sons of your own, that means he had to learn to stand up for himself - even before he could physically stand up at all.  He is tough and he is solid, and his heart is solid gold, too!

He has a belly laugh that makes the gloomiest of days morph into instant sunshine.  You can't not smile when you hear it - even if he is laughing at his favorite game:  throw the toy up in the air.  There are only two variables in this game:  exactly what toy gets thrown and which direction it goes when tossed.  Which, I guess, leads to a third variable - who or what might be in the way of the incoming projectile.  But he laughs, and you rub your aching shin, and you smile - and you protect yourself against the next giggle producing ear of plastic corn.

There might be nothing better than showing up at the house of Elijah.  Regardless which grandboy opens the door, Elijah pushes his way through the assembled saying, and I quote, "Granma, lkej eiosh truck wioury oui up."  He had me at Granma.

I know you aren't supposed to have favorites.  It's a good rule and one I hold to - mostly.  But there are exceptions.  First, birthdays render the rule moot for the day.  But on the other 358 days of the year, my favorite is the one I am currently laying hands, eyes and kisses upon.  Meaning, of course, that I can have multiple favorites all at one time.  This Granma gig is a great one!
The son...

And his father
Sometimes, though, when I catch a glimpse of that little third in line, fireplug of a toddler and spark plug of a personality, I see another third boy child.  It takes my breath away!  There is, of course, a perfectly logical explanation for the déjà vu - like father, like son.  And, Elijah, you are your father's son!

Happy Birthday to my favorite of the day.  Oh, heck, you can have the whole week.  I love you!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Where the Ocean Meets the "See"

He's got the whole world in his hand!
I spent last weekend in Copper Harbor, Michigan, WAY up North on the shores of Lake Superior.  What beautiful country!  Gazing at the shoreline as white-crested waves made their way endlessly to shore, I couldn't help but ask myself who needs the ocean!  The opposite shoreline could be 10 or 100 miles away.  The spray against the rocks could be fresh or salted.  Even with an intent gaze, there was no way of discerning either.  I couldn't help but think of Aidan, and the globe, and a recent science lesson.

Using a small rubber ball masquerading as a globe, I showed Aidan where the land (multi colored) was verses the water (blue, of course).  We talked about how we lived near a big lake and I pointed out Lake Michigan to him.  We talked about how much water there is in the ocean and how big it is.  To my surprise, Aidan responded that he knew how big the ocean was because he had fallen into it.  I'm certainly not with the child 24/7, but I was pretty sure he hadn't wandered to a continental coastline, either.

On the edge of adventure - and the ocean...
With great patience, Aidan told me how he was riding his tricycle around the ocean with his brothers and Daddy.  He had gotten a little too close to the edge of the walkway, tumbled down the embankment and landed in the drink.  It was very wet, of course, and cold.  Daddy wrapped his coat around Aidan to keep him warm, because they were on the other side of the ocean and it was a long way home,  A harrowing experience, for sure!

"Where is the ocean, Aidan?"  With great enthusiasm, he walked me to the front window and pointed to the offending body of water - across the street, behind the playground equipment but front of the school that was just barely visible from our vantage point - an extremely large body of water to be sure.  At five, Aidan is just starting to explore the vastness of the world, starting with the expanse visible from his front window!

Oh to be five again!  I want to experience the wonder and the terrifying depths of the ocean across the street.  I want to judge my size compared to the ordinary, because ordinary is unquestionably extraordinary.  Thank you, Aidan, for the gift of seeing the ocean through your eyes.  Thank you for sharing that marvel anew.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Hoping for a Positive Outcome

We have all been there - that is "there" before you have experienced the actual "there".  Like when a bunch of Texans laugh about how big the snakes are and you laugh, too, at their outrageous stories.  Then a snake eats your car and you aren't laughing anymore.  I will never live in Texas.  If my name was Eve, we would still be living in the Garden of Eden.  I run screaming at the sight of a stick that looked like a snake, much less an actual living and talking belly crawler. But I digress...

So before I became Granma, I laughed at the stories that it might be possible to lose points for giving certain gifts with the most loving of intentions.  Well, except for really loud gifts like drum sets.  I knew from my original parenting gig that such would not be classified as a gift, but rather revenge, and I don't want to be a vengeful Granma.  Nor would I ever give a snake for a gift, even to a budding herpetologist.

Now a decade into Granma-ing, I have some words of wisdom to pass on to up and coming Granmas and Grampas.  You may laugh, but trust me, there is wisdom here born of trial and error.  If you want to stay in the Garden of Eden as long as possible, heed my words.  Gifts to grandboys and girlies inherently have points attached - three sets of points, in fact:  parent points (P), kid points (K), and Granma points (G).  Some examples:

1.  Mylar balloons, which last forever, though they only float for a few days.  Kids LOVE them!  They run around with their eyes on the ceiling, squealing with joy (until they run into a door jam or something).  They provide hours of entertainment at a very low price, and as an added bonus, they give parents hours of exercise pulling them down from heights inaccessible to midget arms.  Granmas love balloons and how they hearken back to days of old.  Points:  -5(P) + 4(K) + 3(G) = +2.  Pretty benign.  Go for it, especially for birthdays!

2.  Large toys, especially those that must be used indoors, like cardboard building blocks.  Again, kids LOVE them!  And their father had wonderful memories of them!  But their mother must find a place to keep them and endure the he-knocked-over-my-tower tears.  +4(P1) - 5(P2) + 7(K) + 4(G) = Go for it, but apologize upfront to your daughter-in-law.

3.  Not all gifts are specifically for the grandboys and girlies.  For example: changing diapers.  Everyone benefits from this gift, including neighboring noses, but none more than the parents.  For this reason, consider giving this gift liberally after #2 above, especially if you smell the #2 in their diaper.  +10(P) + 2(K) - 2(G) = a whole lot of bonus points if your tally is running low.  By the way, these points can easily and quickly double and triple if said rump covering has been combating the flu or teething for a few days.

4.  Books, and educational toys in general.  These are great parent pleasers and with a Google assist, can be a great kid pleaser as well.  This Granma is pretty partial to this type of gift.  The biggest problem tends to be age appropriateness, either to the high side or the low side.  The low side isn't so bad if there are younger siblings, unless it was intended as a birthday gift and the recipient calls notice to such gap.  Equally, though, too much to the high side and it falls on parents' shoulders to assemble/explain/supervise.  This is rarely a problem with books.  Build their library.  +7(P) + 5(K) + 4(G) = Win for everyone.  BTW, the G points would have been higher, but have you priced children's books lately?!

I could probably go on endlessly, and there are individual family variables that might affect your actual score.  I didn't even mention stuffed animals.  There is a reason for that:  it's likely already hard enough to find the child in their bed, though the child knows and will panic if even one such cuddly thing is missing.  It is virtually impossible for a net positive score no matter how positive the K and G elements.  RESIST the urge to buy them, no matter how cute!

There.  A public service announcement worthy of blog space:  cuddly, cute, adorable stuffed animals can practically and easily fall into the same category of Eve's nemesis. Words to the wise.  You are welcome!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Great Poop Caper

I raised three boys.  We joke often that we can't make it through a meal without discussing bodily functions.  Sadly, I confess, this has not changed in the intervening years between grade school and their thirty-somethings.  I theorize that dining discussions tend to be different with you have both sons and daughters, but I have no way for knowing for sure.  Anyway, it's all fair game at our table.  Bear this in mind, and sorry in advance, if you are invited to dine with us...

We all gathered for a birthday celebration the other night, and there was indeed some lively conversation which had not made its way to bodily functions - a feat unto itself.  This would be a good time to mention that four members of the gathered see no need for the privacy of a bathroom when nature calls.  Additionally, we have two small dogs, one of whom likes to be in the middle of everything.

As cake time approached, I passed off a baby grandgirlie and grabbed a soon to be two birthday boy.  It was the smell first, and then the gooey-but-not-frosting on my arm that caught my attention...  (The cake had not yet been touched - thankfully!)  By process of elimination (girlie smiling and pleasant smelling, upcoming birthday boy smiling only), we found our culprit - or so we thought.

Emma, from the other side of the room, walked in and said,"wow, something smells."  I mentioned small dog, right?  Did I mention waist high to a toddler?  Apparently puppy of the curious nature had done no better than I at avoiding the discards of a certain almost two year old, which were now securely located behind his ear, not that he seemed to mind in the least.  Cake further on hold, toddler in Daddy's capable hands, I grabbed a puppy in my hands along with soap and water.

It was almost a Harris record - an entire meal without an ounce of poop talk.  Way to go, Elijah!  Bring us back to our roots!  You are a Harris man-child after all!  Looks like the tradition will continue...

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A Hand Full of Fingers

Five is a pretty essential number.  There is high five and Jackson Five and five little monkeys jumping on the bed.  I have experienced them all, though I know the Jackson Five dates me some.  That's ok, 'cause One Bad Apple Don't Spoil The Whole Bunch - if you are Granma or Grampa enough to know what I mean...

There is an extra special "five" happening this week, though, when Aidan has his birthday!!!!  For anyone reading this, you've been there and done that, I know.  Maybe you remember or maybe not.  I can't really say I remember the exact day I turned five, but I have relived the occassion a couple of times with other grandboys.  There is something magical about spreading all your fingers on one hand to emphasize your age.  Maybe because it's the end of an era - when was the last time that a child showed you six fingers when asked his age?

Aidan is a rather precocious five, a trait he has dragged with him through many years now.  I have had to give up on spelling over his head when I didn't want him to know what we were talking about.  No matter how fast I say the letters, he announces the spelled words.  Not that he is a perfect speller; there are two notable exceptions to his talent.  First, he is convinced that "of" is spelled "o-v".  He might have a point there.  Secondly, he insists that my name is GranDma.  On that score he is just wrong, but after spending much time trying to convince him that there is no D in Granma, I gave up the quest.  We will take it up again when both hands are necessary to indicate his age.

Aidan's most ambitious adventures start with "I have an idea..."  However, some of the most ill-conceived thoughts start the same way.  You have to be very careful and discerning with those sentences.  On the other hand, if you tell him something as a throwaway comment or just to pacify him, be prepared to hear about it again.  He never gives up and he never forgets.  If it weren't for his wiry body, you would think he was an elephant.  As you can see, though, he is getting cuter and his personality is getting bigger by the photograph.  Pictures don't lie!

Happy Birthday, Aidan!  You are one major goofball, and I couldn't love you more if I tried!  Bring on the cake and candles!