Now, I’ve had the time of my life
No, I never felt this way before
The opening lyrics to Bill Medley’s song form the movie Dirty Dancing adequately and perfectly describe Grandpa’s emotions following his granddaughter’s first extended stay with him.
Grandpa and Grammy had the privilege of taking care of Addy while her parents, along with Aunt Steph and Uncle Jason, spent Labor Day weekend at a Mumford & Sons concert near Dayton. This is Grandpa’s take on the weekend. He did all the fun stuff. Grammy did a lot of the fun stuff too, plus she did diaper changes, getting Addy ready for bed, cleaning her up after dinner, etc.
Our 75 hours together began with a trip to Fort Island Elementary School, where Grammy teaches kindergarten. We arrived between class sessions, and Addy made good use of the magnetic letters, books, and stand-up dry-erase board. She identified many of the common logos for stores, restaurants, and products that Grammy has displayed on a bulletin board in the classroom.
Our time was limited because Grammy had to prepare for her afternoon class. Addy did get to see Mrs. Brown, who had invited Grammy and Addy during the summer to swim and play with her twin daughters.
Mommy had told Grandpa that Addy would want to use the potty and would take off her diaper to do so. Sure enough, Addy decided around 2 p.m. to use the potty. What Mommy didn’t tell Grandpa is this: Once the diaper is off, the kid doesn’t want it back on. So, for the next three hours, Addy played with the iPad, played with her stuffed animals, sang the first of about 100 renditions of the alphabet song (often changing up the tune or the cadence, but always getting in all 26 letters) and made 3-4 trips to the potty—all as naked as the day she was born. Grammy came home from work about 5 and convinced her it was time to get dressed for dinner. Addy enjoyed her dinner of steak, vegetables, sweet potato fries and regular, old, French Fries—although she preferred the “yellow” fries over their sweet-potato cousins. Menchie’s frozen yogurt is one of Addy’s favorite treats, so we decided to take her there for dessert—except we decided to check out the competition Sweet Frog. She was concerned when we passed Menchie’s and had some trepidation about going to Sweet Frog.
A cup filled with vanilla and blue frozen yogurt, an ample amount of M&Ms, some Reese’s Pieces, and a couple of other things eased her concern. She ended up pleased but asked when we were in the car again if we could now go to Menche’s (No).
Saturday was museum day. Addy had to get ready for the big event, including pretending to put on makeup with Grammy.
The McKinley Museum, adjacent to the William McKinley Monument in Canton, is one of her favorite museums, but she is afraid of the animatronic dinosaur and sought assurance that Grandpa would hold her. She skirted around the dinosaur when we arrived and headed directly to the hands-on exhibits area, where she put her hands on nearly everything on display. After 15 minutes or so she decided it was time to see the dinosaur. We detoured to the gift shop first, where she picked out a stuffed blue elephant and appropriately named it “Tacky.” The elephant she and Grammy chose must have given her courage, because she then stood alone in front of the roaring dinosaur.
Grandpa thought about making a stop at the Akron Art Museum on the way home, but he and Grammy decided it might be too much for her to just look and not touch, and that she might not get the idea of art. Dinnertime, perhaps, showed us that we might have made the wrong assumption. We had roast beef and mashed potatoes for dinner. The potatoes, in Addy’s mind, were clay
with which she could sculpt various things. She formed the potatoes into Grandpa, Grammy, Grandma, Hunley the dog, and the cats Quincy, Dexter, and Heidi. Then she created the pièce de résistance that she named “City and Tornado.” It’s amazing how much “damage” a tornado can do, as is visible in the photo.
Cookies were a big part of the weekend. We stocked up on the “yellow” Oreo and the old-fashioned “dark” Oreo cookies (Addy’s favorite is the yellow ones). The Copley-Fairlawn School District recently adopted an “Everyday Math” program, which Grammy began teaching last year. It bears some similarities to the everyday math process I used with Addy’s mom and aunt when they were her age. She wanted both varieties. I asked her if I gave her three yellow Oreos and one dark Oreo, how many cookies would she have. Reply: 4. She received the four. Later, she wanted more cookies. I asked her if I gave her a dark one and a yellow one, and then took back the dark one, how many cookies would she have. Reply: 1. Followed by (with head bowed down): I don’t want you to take away my cookie. She received both.
Addy asked Grammy to give her 4 cookies on Sunday morning. Grammy told her that 4 cookies were too many. Reply: Maybe 2 cookies would be good. The kid’s quite a negotiator. She received 2 cookies. These were followed with a syrup and pancake breakfast—emphasis on syrup (regular and strawberry flavors).
Sunday also was cookie baking day, with Grammy making cookies for us, for the fantasy football gathering later that day at our next-door neighbor’s house, and for a few others. Addy and Grammy set about to make chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter cookies (with a Reese’s miniature PB cup in each one). Addy’s job was to unwrap the peanut butter cups and put them in a bowl, with the “pay” being she could have one (just one) when she finished. She got real close to done before one slipped in her mouth. Later, after the cookies were made, Addy sampled the results. These photos show the making and the leftover results.
We decided to do a little trial prior to Addy’s arrival. Grammy had purchased a pair of plastic boots for Addy, and we placed them by the back door, agreeing not to say anything to her—just to see if she would assume the boots were meant for her. She was here about 3 hours, the first hour of which we were not home, when she walked into the family room wearing—at least partly—the boots. She used them throughout the week, but they’re a bit too big for her feet. We wouldn’t allow her to go onto the stairway with them. She certainly adopted a “These boots are made for walkin’” personna.
You always can count on a young child to come up with some quips that aren’t exactly right but usually funny. She hit a corner of the table in her bare feet and, after letting out an “ouch” and grabbing her foot, exclaimed “I stunked my toe.” We cautioned her about not getting face to face with the dog, and she said “I’ll be gently with Hungry.” Even though she frequently called the dog’s name correctly, most of the weekend she pronounced it as “Hungry.” The best “out of little mouths” moment, however, came at dinner on Sunday when the gang returned from the concert. She says to her mother and father: “Grammy said you’d get mad because I ate too much sugar!” The whole table roared with laughter. Stacy was laughing so hard that she had tears running down her check, to which Addy asked: “Mommy, are you crying?”
Most who have attained the moniker of Grandpa, Grammy, Grandma, Papa, Nana, or similar nicknames have spent five or more decades on Earth. Many become reflective about their lives, sometimes asking themselves some tough questions. Why did that happen to me? What did I do wrong? What did I do right? Have I had more good times than bad? Were the struggles worth it? Will the balance of my life be with good health and happiness? We grow older. Then, at the last, our loving and gracious God gives us grandchildren. Through her discovering eye, her untainted and pure mind, her passion to learn, and her passion to play and focus on having fun in the “now,” the grandchild presents the world to you anew. She resurrects compassion and patience, she reminds you that life is more than toil, and that youth is the elixir that keeps the circle of life moving. Those questions suddenly seem silly—and the answers to them no longer matter.