Greetings from Issaquah, Wash. I am staying at my son Ben’s home while he and his wife, Shea, are exploring Rome. I am the keeper of my two-and-a-half year-old granddaughter Lexi — the designated Granny-Nanny. It is my official duty to foil her parents carefully laid plans for Lexi’s development. My job is to find her every action to be pure delight, to let her have her way at all times and to sneak in such contraband items as chocolate milk and cookies. After all, what are grandmothers for?
When Lexi is older, I intend to be a grandmother on the edge. I will tantalize her with temptations. I will expand her mind with live theater, music, dance, demolition derby and rodeo. I will float in like a good fairie, wave my magic wand and whisk her off to the opera, to the ballet and the symphony, things her hard working parents won’t have time for.
But for now, Lexi and I stick close to home, build castles in the backyard sandbox and walk to the park, the wading pool and Starbucks. Oh, heavens no, I don’t give her coffee. Starbucks concocts a dynamite chocolate milk. And they make a parfait that is so good, so exploding with sugar — you won’t tell her parents, will you? All these delights are within a two-block walk. Our days are simple.
Our favorite pastime is playing on grandma’s bed. We do this several times a day. Here is how it goes: Lexi says, “Let’s go play on grandma’s bed.” Grandma smiles indulgently. We tromp up the stairs singing “Frere Jacques.” Lexi loads the bed with books, climbs up the covers hand over hand, jumps up and down a few times and lands with a plop on her bottom. She scoots up to the pile of pillows and hands me a book. “Read to me, grandma.” Grandma reads. Already grandma has memorized 23 books and counting.
There is a bonus to this job. I have become proficient at a plethora of electronic gadgets. Right now i-tunes play on one computer, I write at another, record PBS Kids on yet a third, while at the same time Lexi watches Nemo swim across the screen via video. Ah, the wonders of modern science.
Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? And it is fun. But, I am at the front end of this run. I am not sure how the 17th day will find me. Seventeen days of living in a two-and-a-half-year-old’s world. Seventeen days sans adult conversation. Seventeen days of pancakes, grilled cheese sandwiches, “Dragon Tales,” “The Little Mermaid” and potty training. Seventeen days before Mom and Dad come home.
In imagination, I picture the return of Mom and Dad. Here they come, lugging luggage into the foyer. And there sits grandma, her hair chopped off, her eyes like pinwheels, draped in a stained bathrobe, tied to a chair, forced to watch her 311th viewing of “Sid, the Science Guy.” Picture Lexi running circles around the chair like a wild creature, stark naked, eating forbidden cookies right out of the bag. “Hi Mommy. Hi Daddy. Grandma and I are having fun.” I will hug Lexi, give her a huge bye-bye kiss, head out the door and vanish back to Montana, leaving Mom and Dad to clean up the mess.
Meanwhile, please send M&Ms. I can’t find any in the cupboards. They are not for Lexi. They are for me. I assure you I will eat them only after she is sweetly asleep for the night. Fortified with enough M&M’s, I can promise to persevere with Lexi’s potty training, to keep sugared treats to a minimum, to feed her wholesome foods and to uphold discipline to the best of my ability. I don’t need the M&Ms to promise to love her to bits. But please, please, please send me M&Ms.
Sondra Ashton graduated from Harlem High in 1963 and left for good. She finds, after recently returning, things now look a bit different. Join her in a discussion of her column at www.montanatumbleweed.blogspot.com.