O Lord, the story of Charlotte’s Web has always made this arachnophobe want to run in fear, yet bawl when the spider dies. But OMG, You know that when my grandson played Farmer Arable, no way would I miss a minute!
O Lord, You know I adore my grandchildren. Hence, I’ve also learned to enjoy granddogs and grandcats. But OMG, it took me awhile before I petted the grandrats.
“Grandma, will you play Sorry!® with us?”
Does that request conjure Norman Rockwell scenes of bright-eyed children and a sweet old lady playing that ultimate in generational togetherness, the board game?
Years later, I know better. If you’re dealing with COVID, you do, too.
But I was naïve then. Questions like, “Grandma, will you play kick-the-grenade with us?” wouldn’t have lulled me into false security. But this rosy prospect of quality time with seven-year-old Ava, five-year-old Josh, and three-year-old Jamie dulled self-preservation instincts. I asked my son-in-law for their Sorry!® game.
His eyes widened. “Sorry!®’s toxic! We hid it on a top shelf beside the roach killer.”
You’re totally overreacting. “Because you care about your children?”
“Because we wanted to survive. Play Candy Land®,” he urged. “Candy makes everybody happy. But Sorry!®? Sign a living will first.”
To reassure him, I did. Then, in my best grandma style, I gathered the children to play Sorry!®.
Game pieces debates ensued before we opened the box.
I intervened. “Ava, use blue pawns, since it’s your favorite color. Josh goes first, since he’s taking yellow.”
Was I good, or what?
Jamie objected. “My pieces.” His dimpled hands grabbed them all. Clever Grandma, however, had bought M&M’s® for such emergencies. “I’ll give you blue candies for blue pawns.” Eventually, Jamie returned all but the green pieces.
World War III, however, raged until the others received corresponding M&M’s®.
Players must draw one or two to exit the start area. Josh drew two, and Ava, one. Jamie drew 12, celebrating with a loud “Ya-a-y!” because he got both numbers. We didn’t contradict him.
I drew eight. With luck, I’d come in last. Of course, some people — specifically, grandpas — insist on winning. They cannot appreciate the skill that goes into playing badly. But children do. That’s why they’d rather play with Grandma.
Jamie decided he’d accept only 12s. Other numbers precipitated a Kewpie-doll pout and, “I can’t want that card.”
I tried to convince Josh to send my pieces back to start, but he targeted Ava’s. She swatted his off the table. The dog and cat, convinced they were big yellow M&M’s®, fought for possession.
Jamie, having drawn two 11s in a row, sent the newly arranged game board flying like a square Frisbee®.
This family afternoon had digressed from Norman Rockwell to Jerry Springer.
Proclaiming them all winners, I distributed the whole bag of M&M’s®, suggesting they improve their minds by watching SpongeBob. The Sorry!® game went back beside roach killer. I ate an extra bag of M&M’s® reserved to treat post-board-game trauma.
Would those kids talk Grandma into such “recreation” again?
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What game wreaks havoc at your house?
O Lord, I’m not sure what the older grandkids thought when they opened their Thanksgiving packages. But thank You the little guys loved the noisy, gobbling stuffed turkeys their weird grandma sent. And, OMG, thank You that my children and their spouses didn’t write me off forever.
O Lord, though AARP and Medicare supplemental insurance companies seem ecstatic that I’m older, I’m not inclined to thank You for sagginess, bagginess, and wrinkles. But when our precious clan, including seven grandkids, comes for Thanksgiving — OMG, I’m grateful to be Grandma!
Fierce soprano voices yell, “Batter! Batter!” Super-sized helmets top skinny little necks. Pint-sized players wield mitts big as sofa pillows (and about as effective).
A hometown crowd cheers and munches hot dogs and popcorn.
It’s the season for Little League Love.
Unlike most onlookers, my husband and I are comfortable spectators. Our children are too old for Little League, and our grandchildren have taken different directions.
During our son’s baseball career, I spent years at ball parks with my eyes tightly shut — often double-covered with hands — only venturing out of hiding to visit the concession stand.
Now, I actually watch. These players’ ages range from nine to 12. Some kids probably do Gillette shaving commercials to supplement their allowances. Others might be mistaken for bats — except for hats, mitts and spit. For not only do they imitate favorite major league players with elaborate windups and batting rituals, they have mastered expectoration at near professional levels.
Moms don’t applaud this aspect of their game. But they cheer every catch, throw and at bat. Family members try to behave so their kids will. But when offspring are involved, the gentlest mom — and grandma — grows fangs when the umpire dares call their boy out.
I never acted like that. Though … I do admit going a little overboard in motivating my child, egged on by another mom.
Still, we helped our sluggish team morph into a slugging team. My friend jumped up and informed her 12-year-old that if he fanned again, she would dance for the crowd’s entertainment. I informed my son that I would sing. Very loud.
Not only did our boys smack the ball, we inspired the entire team. Yet nobody put our names on their trophy. Where’s the Mom Love in that?
A roar from the present crowd brings me back to the end of a last-inning 0-0 tie. On a wild pitch, a youngster steals home! After the good-sport slapping of hands, they adjourn to the concession stand, where winners celebrate and losers drown their sorrows in sno-cones — and all look forward to the next game.
It’s easy for me to laud the joys of Little League from my maybe-I’ll-go-to-the-game-maybe-not stance. For parents who spend enough time watching, waiting and transporting to earn a degree, Little League Love wears a little thin.
But one dad near us sees his sons’ games as win-win situations. If their teams win, he’ll return for championship competition. If they lose, he’ll stay home and run a combine over his neglected lawn.
This dad cares about his kids, but not too much about their games’ outcome. That’s the very best kind of Little League Love.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What do you like best/least about Little League?
For years, my friend Dana and I have met every shopping challenge known to womankind. Blessed with two daughters apiece, we survived the daunting task of finding clothes for bloomers, early and late. Dana and I practiced motherly glares and “Because I said so!” drills for prom season. When the girls all married, we scoured stores for mother-of-the-bride dresses that wouldn’t age us on contact or ready us to dance on the reception tables. Together we played, grayed and prayed through decades of shopping.
Little did we know our retail history would prepare us for the ultimate shopping experience: buying for grandchildren. Serious business, right? We prepare for action by regularly polishing our credit cards.
We go in Dana’s car because she has fewer accidents. Also, her car features dual heating controls so we don’t hot flash each other to death.
At the mall, we try to take interest in clothing purported to fit us. But what grandma wants to face her body in fitting-room triplicate?
Much more fun to buy clothes for grandchildren. Like well-trained hounds, Dana and I follow the sales scent to 80-percent-off signs. We scout baby departments, hungry for the softness of little sleepers and onesies.
We’re such a seasoned team that we don’t need phones. If we chase our prey into separate departments, we rendezvous for critiques and/or celebrations at exactly the right moment. Like Vikings, Dana and I methodically plunder each store until salespeople tremble. The whole retail world is at our mercy until—
Until we encounter racks of lacy velvet dresses at 80-percent off.
Our daughters prefer practical clothes for their children.
Don’t they understand grandmothers do not live by denim alone? We want pictures of little princesses clad in scratchy Cinderella gowns. We want grandsons to wear ties they will soak in ketchup. We covet fairy-tale photos we can show off to friends, relatives and strangers at convenience stores.
But our children frown. Sigh.
We drag our bags outside. After sociable trips through the parking lot, greeting others who cannot find their cars, we remember we entered through Appliances, not Intimates. Dana hits her remote again. Her car grumbles when we load it till it barely clears the ground.
Grandma sales mission accomplished.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Can you recall a favorite shopping trip?