The Sweet Life of a Grandmother

As Time Goes by, Here’s Walking with you, Kid

becoming a grandmotherI’m sure this will come as a surprise to those who know my family, but I’m proud to announce that I’ve become a grandmother! Yes, I know my daughters are eight and nine, but I’m thrilled about my new role.

When I was in college my mother asked for grandkids to spoil. It might have been a tad early to request and perhaps she could have kept that desire to herself, but now I understand the draw.

My friends with older children have been sharing how wonderful it is becoming a Grandmother because you get to love your grandkids with all your heart, but return them when your pampering itch is scratched (aka when the whining and begging is so obnoxious you need to escape.)

My new grandson is perfect. He is sweet, loves to play outside without complaining, and when he sees me, he comes running with an unconditional look of love that can only come from a grandchild. It fills my heart every time.

My grandson, Teddy, is the cutest Yorkshire terrier. He’s the Toto to my Dorothy. The gold at the end of my rainbow…

Actually, did I mention he isn’t really mine? My friend mentioned her new dog loves to go for walks and a light went off in my blonde head that Teddy and I needed to become besties.

Before you contact me, I have not started a dog walking business because I’m more of a cat person than dog gal. But my neighbor’s dog is a ray of sunshine when he bounces along the streets of my suburb. He has a pep in his step that makes me beam.

I’ve been looking for a walking partner for some time. Recently, I mentioned that bikes and I have issues. OK, they hate me. But a nice walk in the morning gives me a boost of endorphins and my brain fog clears as well.

The first day of school for my girls wasn’t different than any other year. We had prepared the perfect school outfits that are only special that first day in order to memorialize the day in a file in my computer that may never be retrieved.

We took the annual cute backpack pictures, the “I love school” pose, the “I love my sister so I’m going to joyfully hug her even though we fought over hairbrushes just 5-minutes before” pose, and my favorite – the “make the goofiest pose you can.” My wonderful goofballs make this mother so proud!

My girls actually enjoy going to school, one loves to learn and the other is the school’s welcoming committee. Because of this, I haven’t shed a tear on day one since I left my oldest that first day of Kindergarten.

So when I walked them into school this year, I was only a bit shocked they ditched me in front of the school to join their friends. Every parent knows how important it is to let your children cut the cord and fly away toward independence. But it still stinks.

Leaving the building with tears welling in my eyes was a shock to me. Normally, I love the sound of silence. As a writer, these are the moments we cherish. But this year I felt lonely.

I missed being able to chat with my daughters. And instead of pining for another baby because I’m not crazy, I remembered Teddy.

Now I look forward to letting my children join their friends every morning; and when I feel like it, I pick up my new walking buddy and chat throughout the neighborhood. He never argues with me and I’m always right.

Teddy, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

 

Free Dinner for Those Buying Cemetery Plots

Recently I received the most peculiar invitation in the mail. This gem contained complimentary admission tickets “good for two” persons for FREE FOOD! Now with the hunger crisis widespread throughout our country, why on earth were they trying to give ME and my plus one a free meal?

At first I was keyed up by the prospect of someone wanting to award me something, especially if that something might include perhaps ice cream; but then I remembered a prophet’s advice, “No one gives out ice cream for free, unless they want something in return.”

So I called my mother, who is the oldest person I talk to on a regular basis, so that puts her closest to prophet status. I asked her, “Do you think this free meal is some kind of a scheme?” Being that she is a savvy retired elementary school educator, she asked, “Who sent these tickets to you, my child?”

I turned back to the not-so-fine print (actually it was in bold, italicized and about a 32-point font). This might be a first warning  to slow down a bit in life, or else bump up to the next level on my cheap drugstore reader glasses.

This is when I should have hung up the phone or claimed I had the wrong number; but I had already announced to my mother who I was, called her by name, and discussed who was coming to a family get-together. So I’m pretty sure she recognized my voice.

I tried to cough, sneeze and mumble at the same time, “A funeral home.”

Although, since she is my mother and can understand every word of mine even if I had all my teeth knocked out and my lips sewn shut, she blurted, “How did you get on THEIR list?”

“Weight Watchers, I can only assume,” I sighed as if receiving an unsatisfactory mark on my report card.

Then to add salt & vinegar potato chips to my wounds, she laughed, “I haven’t even had a funeral home send me invitations yet!” Nice. Coming from a woman who happens to be substantially older than me.

Our conversation morphed into what we thought should be on the menu for such an event to discuss “final-arrangement planning.” Whole grapes? Big chunks of hotdogs? Or would they go the cholesterol-laden route … triple cheeseburgers and a side’s bar of anything fried? We both assumed a fruit and veggie tray wasn’t going to be part of this artery clogging affair.
Since we were on the subject of dying, I thought it an appropriate transition to inform her I had accidentally killed the Cecropia caterpillars she had recently given my children. The science project for the summer was over after one week. Fuzzy and Wuzzy wuz no more.

Too bad the funeral homes don’t take caterpillars. My daughters would have loved a nice service for their beloved 7-day inch-long friends. How to pick your final resting place for caterpillars isn’t a common request, apparently.

However, I do have these two complimentary tickets from experts who “want to ease my family’s emotional burden.” Maybe I will give them a call…

previously published on July 8, 2012 in The Kansas City Star  

Child Invites Entire World to her Birthday

Happy birthday lit candles on brown background

How do you have a kids’ birthday party for sixty 7-8 year olds?

YOU DON’T! Ever.

That’s why I put a limit on my overly social munchkin’s party this year. She wanted to have it at the zoo where “Dan – the Touch my Animals – Man” would be sharing information about all things animaly. Don’t correct me. It should be a word.

25 guests maximum is the policy for zoo parties. This includes kids and the immediate family. This number sounded crazy, but actually (don’t tell Munchkin #2) I think it will be a lot like school, but with loads of sugar at the end – right before we send them home to their parents. Heh, heh!

So the itinerary is set, the guest list consists of only the girls in her immediate class and Girl Scout friends. End. Of. Story. No surprises. No changes. No gluten free.

However, I didn’t realize that my child was loudly talking about her party outside of the classroom. Lunch and recess were a dangerous for her and other’s feelings.

Why did I think she could keep her lips shut? She never does at home. I assumed she would chat with the girls in her class and no one’s feelings would get hurt.

WRONG!

I joined M2 for her birthday lunch at school. This is where once a year I take whatever the munchkin wants and drink a diet coke while she ingests crap. I used to eat items from beneath the golden arches, but now I feel like my tongue is coated in oil at the end of my meal.

Anywho…both munchkins love this tradition and have grown to expect it. We were sitting at the “parent/child” table. It’s kind of like the “Peanut table,” but more kids come up and beg us for French fries. Charles Dickens would be proud of these little urchins.

So as each kid faked a trip to the bathroom to come see what Munchkin #2 was eating, and tried to give her the signal she should share some spuds, she would say something about her birthday being over the weekend and that she was REALLY excited about her party at the zoo.

“M2, not all of these kids are invited to the party!” I urgently whispered.

“What? They are one of my best friends!” she loudly announced. I have no clue where this kid got her volume!

“We could only invite the girls in your classroom and those who are in Brownies. Don’t you remember that?” I asked.

“My class-ROOM! Oh, not my whole class – like all of 2nd grade!!” she finally understood.

“I thought you were clear on this. How many people have you talked to?” I hesitantly inquired.

“Don’t worry, Mom! I only talked to all the girls in 2nd grade. I didn’t tell anybody in third!”

She was so proud of her restraint. Explaining to a child who is not ready to understand how their words can upset others is challenging. I thought we had it squared away weeks ago.

M2 likes to be friends with everyone. Not such a terrible quality.

But she better get a job at McDonalds to start saving up for next years party. She might just have the upper third of the elementary school on the invite list!

Do you have a kid that airs all of your dirty laundry? Got yourself a blabbermouth?

A Mother’s Worst Church Nightmare

My kid rocked my world and was this mother’s worst church nightmare


previously posted in 2012 – Munchkin #2 was 4

Well, the big day had arrived! The first performance of the preschool choir (aka The Cherub Choir) in the history of my church was to commence and I was to direct them. These four and five year-olds had been preparing for months and were pumped to sing for the church on Sunday; and if you have them motivated that is 80% of the battle. The rest is … just singing.

The nice part of having a preschool choir is that no matter what, they are going to be cute. Just the walking up to the front of the altar in their favorite outfits and the hand waving to their parents is enough to make you take a bow, say thanks and head home. And right on cue they started grinning and waving, and pulling at clothing and picking various bodily crevices. Great stuff!

So they get through the song and there is applause and laughter. Not bad for our first time out! I just figured people were laughing because the kids were so darling that they were filled with joy and that was their release.

However, that was not the case.

As I was cueing the guitarist to finish the last song, on the other side of the choir a little dancing was going on. One of my students was shaking her bootie in quite a noticeable manner.

Guess whose kid it was? Yep. Mine! Munchkin #2. She felt the rhythm and couldn’t control her hips.

I am soooo doomed.

After the songs are completed, the children go back to their parents to finish the service. Afterwards one of the Reverends, a male who was wearing a long white robe – came up to congratulate my children (the one’s I gave birth to) on a job well done. It was also at this time, that I was informed by the clergy that my daughter could “really shake it.”

Is that a rock over there?

May I climb under you?

This wasn’t the “dinger” though. My daughter started dancing again and the Reverend lifted the hem of his robe and did a dance similar to a low-key Rockette’s kickline. It was actually very cute and a bonding moment with my child in church can’t help. He was making her church experience enjoyable.

Then it happened…my darling cherub shook her head back and forth at him and disapprovingly said, “Oh, Jesus!” When I awoke from unconsciousness, I stared at all persons surrounding us to see who had heard her.

No one. Praise God, we were in the clear!

It is one thing to get in trouble in school, but to take the Lord’s name in vain in FRONT of the Reverend, is way too much for this Mama. I knew I was partially to blame for when my kids do something squirrely, I shake my head in the same fashion and say, “Oh, Munchkin #…” My little squirrel didn’t fall far from the nut!

A few minutes later I finally got it. M2 wasn’t swearing in front of the altar but truly believed the male Reverend was the real Jesus. The white, flowing robe, the glasses, the balding head, old guy – totally could see how she would mix those two up. Oh, well I cut her a break. She was four!

After my heart started beating again, I decided the story was precious, instead of devastating. It was either that or sprint out the vestry doors, leaving my family to fend for themselves.

I haven’t corrected Munchkin #2 yet because I don’t want her to be embarrassed; but we will have a discussion in the near future about who is who in the church and when and where it’s appropriate to gyrate your hips.

Update: Two years later, at our new church Munchkin #2 had another singing performance. I had forgotten about the Elvis situation, so I was prepared to watch my sweet girl sing praises. This is what we saw…

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I Loves my Skabetti

As many of you know, my munchkins are polar opposites. This even applies to their food palate.

Munchkin #1 is a near-vegetarian. She whole-heartedly claims to be a vegetarian; however, she will eat a turkey hotdog at the drop of a hat. I’m not sure there is a category for a kinda herbivore because I’m pretty sure the vegans and RAW foodies won’t take her into their club.

Munchkin #2 has much more of a normal appetite for a 7 year old. She is becoming more adventurous every day and for that I am thankful. Of course as soon as she gets to the table, she will whine and say, “Ew. That looks awful!” But then she will try it, find she enjoys it, and sometimes even asks for seconds. We are almost there with M2.

There are only a handful of meals that my entire family will eat without a complaint. This would be spaghetti and pizza. Everything else, all bets are off! I guess two probably doesn’t even count as a handful does it?

We have issues here, people!!

Dinner time is like World War III every night and it just makes me want to have cereal instead or force feed them through IV’s. (Which of course would be VERY wrong and I would never do. Seriously. But wouldn’t it be easier?)

Since everyone in my family loves spaghetti, I fix it probably every other week. This keeps me sane and it isn’t so frequent we detest it. Also, I have to admit…Munchkin #2 has the cutest way of saying it:

“Skabetti”

She has been calling it that since she first started talking and we have never corrected her until…well, OK last year. It was so cute and we all liked to call it that too.

She used to call desserts, “recipeats” and we put the kibosh on that one in Kindergarten, so we had to keep something fun at the table alive, right? Good times wasn’t going to be us saying, “You need to take 3 bites of that.”

The problem is now that M2 has been saying “skabetti” for so long, she can’t seem to get the correct pronunciation out of her mouth. Did we keep that one going too long?

We have been sitting around the table trying to help her:

M2: Skabetti…

Me: Honey, it’s spaghetti.

M1: SPAAAAA-ghetti

Me: M1, you don’t need to help your sister with this one. She knows you already know how to say it. You’ve told her FIVE times now!

M2: Skabetti, skabetti, sbabetti! (she smiles thinking she got it with the last one)

M1: IT’S NOT SBAAAA-BETTI, IT’S SPA-SPA-SPAAAA GHETTI.

Me: OK, you are up to six times, M1.

M1: She is not learning it, so I’m trying to help.

Me: By yelling at her?

M1: …

Different versions of this conversation have occurred more times than I care to admit, but it wasn’t really a problem for her. Munchkin#2 didn’t eat spaghetti at school, so she never had to say it in front of anyone, until this week.

We invited over some friends for dinner, who have 2 young girls approximately the same ages as the Munchkins. Trying to figure out what to make for dinner, I knew it was going to have to be pizza or spaghetti. Since this was the first time to have them over, I thought we’d get extra fancy and go with spaghetti! I know you all are impressed and jealous.

As the Munchkins and I were discussing the menu, M2 kept slipping up on the main course.

M2: Do their girls like skabetti?

M1: IT’S SPAGHETTI!!!!!

Me: M1, it’s OK if she doesn’t get it right. Maybe the other girls can’t say it right either. It’s an Italian word, so it’s more difficult than English.

M1: Fine. (irritated)

Me: So how about salad and garlic bread?

M2: We should have plain red sauce and meat sauce for the skabetti.

M1: OK!!!! (throwing hands up in the air) Call them up. This party is cancelled!

I’m so glad Munchkin #1 has such clear coping skills for conflict. We might need to work on this too!

Do your kids fight over silly little things like this that drive you nuts? Please share with me in the comments, so I don’t feel alone in this mommy-overload!!!

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