Glasses (May 22, 2017)

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Grandma’s Glasses

Jet’s brothers Oboe and Jem wear glasses. Grandma and Papa wear glasses. Jet’s Aunt and Uncle wear glasses. “I need glasses, “ Jet declared, “‘cause my eyes don’t work too well.”

“You have some sunglasses.”

“I need real glasses to help me see.”

The natural inclination of course, is to assume that she could see perfectly well, but the boys’ ophthalmologist suggested that based on family history alone, Jet should have her eyes checked too. So, I took her for an exam while mommy and daddy were at work. Jet was thoroughly prepped for the appointment with admonishments and instructions about proper behavior. She understood that she would be expected to do exactly as the doctor directed.

Jet in Grandma's Glasses

Jet in Grandma’s Glasses

Jet climbed into the big chair. The doctor asked me if she could read the alphabet. “For the most part,” I assured her. The first letter was a very large E. Jet declared that she had absolutely no idea what it could be. Something about that chair must have rendered Jet unable to remain still. She wiggled and twisted and moved her legs to the side of the chair.

The doctor ignored the wiggling and moved her legs back in place. “That’s all right,” she assured me. “We’ll just use pictures. Can you tell me what this is?” A birthday cake appeared on the wall.

“A spinning wheel!”

“And this?” A horse and rider appeared.

“That’s a cow!”

“What about this?” A telephone blinked into view.

“A bed.” I began to wonder if she could see at all.

“How old is she again?” the doctor asked.

Jet didn’t like my answer that she would be four in a few weeks. “I’m not four in a few weeks! It’s more than that!”

The doctor held the pictures right in front of her face and asked the questions again while Jet made exactly the same responses.

“And… the silly kicks in,” sighed the doctor. “At least she is consistent. I can work with that.”

When the doctor pulled out some 3D glasses to test depth perception, Jet demanded purple ones and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Unfortunately purple was not an option.

“I’m sorry, she isn’t normally like this!”

“Really?”

I remained quiet until Jet refused to let the doctor put drops in her eyes. “It will only sting for a second,” I assured her.

“Grandma!” the doctor admonished me.

“Oh, sorry, I guess we don’t say that?”

“No we do not! That is not at all helpful.”

Poorly behaved Grandma and poorly behaved Jet went to the waiting room where she pretended to be an airplane flying into the chest of another patient and the end of her Grandma’s patience was reached. I pulled Jet close and whispered through my teeth, “I don’t know what got into you young lady, but it had better get right back out! You will sit still and do what the doctor tells you or you will be in time out the minute we get home.”

A subdued child returned to the exam room and sat relatively still despite the bright light being shined in her eyes. “She’s plus 4,” the doctor announced.

“Are you saying she needs glass?” I asked.

“Purple!” shouted Jet.

Trying on Glasses

Trying on Glasses

“It will be up to your mommy to come back and pick out glasses for you,” I said.

“I think that would be best,” the doctor agreed.

Back at home, Jet returned to her perfectly behaved little self. Really.

Mother’s Day (May 14, 2017)

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I love you, Mom

I love you, Mom

Jet and I went to the library to get some new books. The children’s room usually offers a table with crayons and a sheet to copy. This time, a sign on the table read, “Make a card for your mother and give it to the librarian and you may choose a book for your mother from the library sale.” What a fantastic idea! Jet went right to work and had soon earned her mom a book.

The sale books were centered at adult eye level — too high for Jet to reach most of them, but she quickly pulled down a book on car repair. “This one!”

“That’s a nice looking book, Jet, but it’s about fixing cars. I think we should look for something else. Let’s keep looking.”

“Here’s a book, Grandma, it has a princess on it!” Jet hollered as she pulled off a torrid romance novel at the exact moment I spotted something in the sci-fi genre.

I Love You To Pieces

I Love You To Pieces

“Shhh – don’t forget to be quiet in the library! That’s a pretty book, all right, but look, here’s one that’s really big! Which one do you want?”

Jet wavered. Her hand went back and forth between the big book and the princess. Bigger won. “I want to wrap it all by myself.”

“Okay. Let’s take it home.”

Jet remembered a great deal about wrapping presents. She needed no prompting to take the roll of paper and lay it on the carpet. She pulled out a length of it and brandished her scissors. “I’m going to cut this all by myself!”

“Okay, but you need a bit more than that.” I showed her where to cut. Her scissors ran through the paper like butter!

Cutting the Paper

Cutting the Paper

“Get the tape, Grandma!” I rushed to get the tape and held the paper in place for her as she directed. When I let go the paper fell back to the floor. “It didn’t work!”

“The tape has to touch both sides of the paper, remember? It’s okay, just put on another piece and you can do the ends.” Jet remembered how I folded in the sides first at the ends and did a very credible job of duplicating my style.

“Ribbon! We need ribbon!” I got the ribbon. “I’ll cut it Grandma, but you tie it on for me, okay?”

“Sure thing, sweetness.” At least she still needs me for something!

Adding Tape

Adding Tape

 

Naturalist

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Feel Better Grandma!

Feel Better Grandma!

A highly contagious virus, one of the few drawbacks attached to grandchildren, rendered me couch-bound for 7 days. Jet colored numerous “feel better” drawings for me that lifted my spirits considerably. Papa stepped into the breach to make sure she didn’t miss her ballet class on Monday. I took a “sick day” on Tuesday, but Jet returned on Wednesday with more help from Papa to handle stories and songs.

We had a very quiet day: play, bath, play, lunch, nap. After her nap, Jet noticed the design of Papa’s t-shirt. “Look, there’s a crow on your shirt!”

“I don’t think so,” Papa smiled. My husband is a fan of hawks, falcons and other birds of prey. Crows, not so much.

Papa's Bird Shirt

Papa’s Bird Shirt

“Yes! Yes, it is a crow! I know because his nose has a point on the end.”

As Papa pondered the ensuing argument and his chances of winning it, Jet took matters into her own hands. “I’ll show you,” she said.

I can’t begin to describe the pride that blossomed in our retired-librarian hearts as our grandchild ran to pull a reference book to prove her point. Jet quickly flipped the pages of an ABC of birds and turned to E for eagle. “Look, see his nose? That’s a crow!”

The world stood still for a moment as our widened eyes met above Jet’s head. “She’s amazing,” I whispered.

“You’re right about his nose, but see this? This is an E, for eagle, not a crow.” Papa was so gentle in his correction that Jet barely registered that she had been partly wrong. “The bird on my shirt could be an eagle though.”

“Show her a hawk in your bird book too,” I suggested.

A Spoonbill

A Spoonbill

Papa fetched his guide to birds in North America and showed Jet how many birds of prey had hooked beaks. Jet’s fingers twitched with the desire to flip through the pages too. She quickly discovered another familiar bird. “This is a spoonbill,” she announced. It certainly was.

Family Dance

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“Dance, Grandma! Do the song from the Music movie.”

Grandma’s Kitchen Dance

Jet is eating a nice lunch. This tells me she is feeling better, so I am happy to comply, finding the words as I go along:

Blueberry yogurt and hotdogs no mustard,
Raspberry Jell-O and pudding not custard,
Strawberry applesauce with cold green beans,
These are the best things that Jet’s ever seen!

 My imitation of Julie Andrews twirling on the mountaintop is marginal, but good enough for Jet. “More — do some more!”

 Cheddar jack cheese sticks and daily dried prunes,
Eating some oatmeal on a Mickey Mouse spoon,
Story time, bath time and songs Grandma sings,
These are a few of Jet’s favorite things!

“That’s all I can think of for now.”

“That’s okay. I’m done. Clean me.”

“Clean me please.”

“Okay, Clean me up please.”

“Okay, story time next what books will we read?”

“Mommy and I like to dance for daddy while he is eating his dinner.”

Jet’s Ballet Dance

I know Jet is procrastinating, but I can’t help myself. She’s captured my imagination. “You do?”

“Yes, daddy eats his dinner and we get up and dance.”

“What sort of dances do you do?” I pull out my phone. I don’t want to miss this!

“Well, I dance like this.” Jet demonstrates a ballet move.

“Mommy dances like this.” Jet pulls her arms closer to her body.

Mommy’s Dance

Warming to the topic she expands the dance team. “Jem and Oboe dance like this!” She closes her fists and shakes them.

The Brothers’ Dance

“Great, that’s good dancing, but, it is nap time now, let’s get your stories!”

“Don’t you want to see how Garko (the dog) dances?”

“Well, I guess I do. Go ahead.”

Bending in half, Jet places her hands on her knees and wiggles her tail. I have to admit, she does a very credible dog dance!

Dog Dance!

Crunch Week

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My Daughter's Hand

My Daughter’s Hand

Unfortunately, Jet, Oboe and Jem won’t remember how hard their mother worked to produce and rear three children while she pursued her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering so let me make it clear: hard doesn’t begin to describe it. My grandchildren should know that their mother is a real-life feminist heroine of long-standing duration, who soldiered on with quiet grace through physical and mental adversity to excel in work and home, research and motherhood. She endured pregnancy complications, delivery injuries and the unexpected addition of premature twins. She overcame research anomalies, breast-feeding hardships, and colicky babies. She triumphed over mathematical derivations, sleepless nights and early morning alarm clocks.

My husband and I can only watch our daughter slog toward the finish line with awe, frustrated by how little we can do to help. “Grandma, why don’t you let mommy and Aunt Mary live here any more?” Jet asked. If only she knew how much we wished we could bring her mommy home and take care of her for just a little while!

We hoped to alleviate a bit of pressure by inviting Jet to sleep overnight Sunday and Monday night. Jet loves sleepovers, thanks in no small part to the opportunity to stay up late and watch a movie with Grandma and Papa. It’s the only time we let her watch a TV screen, which makes it even more special. She chose The Little Mermaid the first night. Jet was not at all impressed by Ariel’s decision to disobey her father. “She’s not a very good girl, is she? Why did she go out by herself?” She found much of the plot unfathomable: “Why doesn’t she have legs?” “Why does that shark want to eat her?” “Why doesn’t she know it’s a fork?” “Why does that witch want to take her voice?” I must admit we were all ready for bed when the movie ended!

The next night I made popcorn. Jet was thrilled to munch her way through a substantial helping. The Sound of Music turned out to be a better choice, but was a little too long to finish in one night. When Jet spread her blanket on the floor to “rest,” I asked if she’d like to go to bed. The promise that we’d finish the movie the next day was all she needed to acquiesce. Jet is that rare child who understands how to delay gratification.

An hour later our house was rent by piercing screams. Channeling Miss Clavell from Madeline, Jet’s Papa and I — sincerely afraid of disaster — ran fast — and faster! We found Jet huddled over her bed, hair dragging in the contents of her stomach. She had no words to express her horror and disgust, but her tear-streaked face told the story. Perhaps popcorn wasn’t the best idea after all.

Poor Baby!

Poor Baby!

With clean sheets, clean pajamas and a bowl “just in case,” Jet went back to sleep for another hour or so, only to wake a little too late to find the bowl. I gave her a partial bath while Papa replaced the sheets again. This time her special blanket fell victim. “Get it off, get it off,” she begged. She wanted her special blanket back no matter how wet, but was eventually persuaded that Grandma’s dry, clean blanket would be cozier.

Prudence required that her esophagus remain vertical for a while, so went back to the couch for some cartoon offerings on Netflix. By 3:00 a.m. I felt pretty sure the popcorn was not the only problem despite the absence of a fever. Jet handled her continuing gastric distress with incredible aplomb, reaching calmly for the bowl and hitting the mark every time throughout the night. She is definitely her mother’s daughter!

Just Watching a Movie

Just Watching a Movie

Tuesday morning found us both exhausted. Papa ran to the drugstore for Pedialyte and an anti-nausea prescription and Jet was able to eat some toast and part of a banana. We watched the rest of the Sound of Music. “Why are you letting me watch this, Grandma?”

“Because you are sick, sweetie. It’s okay to watch movies when you are not feeling well because you really can’t do anything else.”

“I think I could take a nap.”

“You want to take a nap? Now?” Jet nodded, but sleep eluded her and she had to empty her stomach yet again.

“Can you read to me?” We snuggled together on the couch, bowl at the ready.

Clean Sweep

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A New Broom

A New Broom

As brooms go, at more than 40 years old, mine is ancient. It’s the only broom I’ve ever owned. The straw may be worn, but it’s still very useable. Once upon a time, I tried a new broom with a plastic brush, but it was quickly relegated to the garage. My old broom just felt better. It’s worn more on one side than the other which seems right to me. For the last 27 years, it has hung upside down in my pantry to avoid extra wear on the straw.

The first time Jet spied my broom in the closet she wanted to try it. She loves cleaning! As she sweeps, she often wonders why I don’t get her a smaller broom. “If I can find one,” I tell her.

Last week, I found a broom with an orange telescoping handle. It has a rectangular brush with soft bristles. The lowest setting seemed just the right height for Jet. After breakfast, I told her to look for a surprise. “It’s a BROOM!” “You got a broom, Grandma!”

“I did!”

“Why? Why did you get a broom?”

“It’s a little broom, just your size. I got it for you!”

“Why? Why did you get me a broom?”

Sweeping Together

Sweeping Together

“I thought you’d like it.   This broom can grow with you. When you get bigger, your broom will grow too. One day, it will be as big as my broom!”

“Let’s try it!” Jet raced to the pantry. “Get the scooper!”

“Dustpan.”

“Get the dustpan! Get your broom! We can sweep together!” Jet put the dustpan on the floor. “Just look at this place! Marcy tracked in leaves all over the floor! We’d better clean it!”

We got to work.

 

Breakfast Conversation

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Cleaning the Floor

Cleaning the Floor

“What would you like for breakfast this morning?”

“Oatmeal. I always like to have oatmeal when it’s cold outside. Why didn’t you make it for me?”

“I know how you like to pick out your own cereal! I was waiting for you.”

“Well, I like oatmeal when it’s cold! Look! Marcy is eating her breakfast too! Why do you have to put Marcy’s food up when Bernie is here?”

“So she doesn’t eat Marcy’s food. Marcy likes to eat a little food all day, but Bernie and Garko eat their food all at once.”

“Why does Bernie have her own bowl when she comes to your house?”

“Why don’t you eat out of my bowl when you come to Grandma’s house?”

“I don’t know.”

“We like to have our own bowls, but it’s also nice for Bernie to have something to bring with her from home when she is staying with us… like you bring Kitty.”

“No, that’s not the same… I’m Kitty’s Mommy!”

“Oh, yes. Well, then it’s like the way you bring your blanket and meemie.”

“No, those are for Kitty.”

“The blanket and meemie belong to Kitty?”

“Yes. But she shares them.”

Little Princess

Little Princess

“Can I put on my new Elsa dress after breakfast?”

“Yes, but first you are going to have a bath.”

“I don’t want a bath. Why do I have to have a bath?”

“Daddy said you need one today.”

“My Daddy said I need a bath? Oh… Okay. You know what Grandma? This floor is filthy! We need to clean it up! We’d better get out the broom and sweep it before my bath.”

“Yes, Marcy did track in some leaves this morning. Okay. We can do that before you take your bath if you want.”

“No, I’ll do it after my bath. Daddy said I needed to take one!”

After breakfast, Jet went directly to brush her teeth and take her bath. As soon as she emerged, she donned her bathrobe and swept the floor. When her hair had dried a bit, she was ready to get dressed in a flowing princess dress with mid-length gloves, a train and a crown. This little girl likes to be clean and beautiful for her Daddy!

At the Movies

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Entering the Theater

Entering the Theater

Long ago, my Grandma and I rode the bus downtown to see a revival of Snow White – or possibly Cinderella. I may not remember the name of the movie but more than half a century later I remember the ornate plaster medallions on the ceiling, the red velvet curtains on the sides of the stage, the elegant balcony behind us and the enormous screen before us.

I know Jet is too young to retain a memory of going to the movies with me – she’s already forgotten things she did last summer — but I couldn’t wait to take her anyway. A new Disney Princess had come to town at Christmastime and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to experience Moana with her.

We hurried through breakfast and her bath so we’d be sure to make the matinee. Jet procrastinated about getting dressed until I mentioned that the movie wouldn’t wait for us if we were late.   She was shocked at the very idea! We talked about the need to be quiet, too. “If you forget and start to talk out loud, Grandma will say, ‘shhhh’ in your ear,” I told her. We practiced that a few times, just in case.

She held my hand as we entered the nearly empty lobby and I bought our tickets. I let Jet hand them to the employee at the gate. She solemnly accepted the stubs he returned to her. “You take them now, Grandma, I don’t know what to do with them!”

We made our way down the hall to theater number 3 and walked up the short ramp. The look on Jet’s face as she surveyed the screen ahead and the rows of seats behind exceeded all my expectations. She stopped still and stared. A mother and two children came in behind us. “Let’s find our seats,” I said.

We climbed half way up and I ushered her into a row. “Is this okay?” Jet didn’t move. She was mesmerized by the size of the screen. “All right then, let’s take off our coats.”

Ready and Waiting

Ready and Waiting

As I removed my coat, Jet sat down on the edge of her seat. She looked at everything around her. “People can get food here!”

“Yes, but we aren’t going to get any today. When we get home, we’ll have lunch.” She accepted that without comment. I took off her coat and gave it to her to hold in case she felt cold. I scooted her to the back of her seat. As I sat down, Jet’s seat folded shut with her in it!

She remained calm, saying only “Why is my seat doing this to me Grandma?” I took my coat and wedged it into the back of the seat to help keep it open and she gingerly resumed her place. “When will it start?”

“The lights will all go out and it will get dark. Then the movie will start but first there will be some commercials.”

Jet seemed to enjoy most of the commercials, especially the one for the upcoming release of Beauty and the Beast. “Mommy and Daddy are going to take me to see that!” The lights dimmed slightly and Jet looked at the ceiling with a critical eye. “Some of the lights are still on!”

“Yes, it’s not quite time for the movie yet, but it will be soon. Don’t forget that you have to be quiet when the movie starts.”

When the light went out, she was more than ready. I looked at her face more than the screen at first, but an adorable toddler version of the heroine quickly captured my attention. “Who is that?” Jet wanted to know.

“Shhhh! Don’t forget you have to keep quiet!” She nodded.

Another little girl in our row started to laugh and Jet looked at her askance. She turned to me to see if I noticed. I pretended that I did not. As the movie progressed, the grandmother took ill. Her death was symbolically illustrated by the appearance of a white light and a stingray flying through the ocean. I held my breath and looked at Jet from the corner of my eye. Thankfully, she didn’t seem to make the connection.

When Maui appeared Jet spoke again. “Is he bad?” She grabbed my hand tightly and squeezed. I put her on my lap where she stayed for the rest of the movie. When the molten monster appeared, she turned her face into my neck and whispered, “I don’t like that!”

Applauding at the End

Applauding at the End

“You don’t have to look. Cover your eyes and this part will be over soon.” She put a hand over her eyes, fingers spread to peek from time to time. The other hand dug into my neck. When Moana fulfilled her destiny to return the monster’s heart, it morphed into a mountainous green “mother nature.” Jet was thrilled. As the lights rose she applauded furiously.

“Maui wasn’t very good Grandma, but then he and Moana got to be friends.”

“Yes, I wasn’t sure he would be a good guy at first either.”

As I put on my coat, Jet walked down the steps to the front of the theater. She stood next to the big screen and looked back at me. I nodded my permission and she crossed the front of the theater and came back up the other side where I took her hand. “I let you do that because we were the only people in here, but if there were more people you’d have to hold me hand.”

“You let me go by myself but I have to hold your hand when there are people, right Grandma?”

“Right. Did you like the movie?”

“Yes!”

“What was your favorite part?”

“When she went home to her mommy and daddy!”

“I liked that part too.”

“Hey, Grandma…. can we watch it again?”

 

What Weather?

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My Mommy Said It's SNOWING

My Mommy Said It’s SNOWING

“Oh dear, it looks like it’s raining again, Jet. No walk for us.”

“It’s not raining Grandma, it’s snowing!”

“No snow today, just rain.”

“Snow!”

“Jet, I can see the rain. I’m looking right at it. Rain is coming down from the sky.”

“My mommy said it’s snowing!”

It’s never wise to contradict the pronouncements of a parent. I tried to remember whether it was snowing when Jet’s mother dropped her off. Maybe it was snowing. Then, again, maybe it was snowing the last time she had a discussion about the weather. Pre-school children are masters of conditionally true statements. For example, “I had a bath.” A true statement as far as it goes because it does not include the day on which said bath occurred.

“Okay. Maybe it was snowing when you were with your mommy this morning, but it is raining now, so we can’t take our walk. What do you want to do instead?”

“I want to be a cat. I’ll be a cat and you can pet me, okay?”

Cat Ears

Cat Ears

Jet made mewling noises and rubbed up against my shoulder. “Shall I scratch you behind your ears?” A new idea glimmered in Jet’s eyes.

“I need some cat ears! Make some, make some… can you make some?”

“Let me try.” I combed Jet’s hair to the top of her head into two ponytails with the ends folded under the rubber band.

Jet shook her head from side to side and bobbed it up and down. Her hair wobbled. She grinned and ran to the mirror. “I’m a CAT!”

Variations On A Theme

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An Airplane Flying Over the Zoo

An Airplane Flying Over the Zoo

Why do you have to go potty Grandma?”

“Because I do.”

“But WHY?”

“For the same reason you do Jet. Why do you have to go potty?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, maybe you’d better think about that for awhile….”

“Why?”

[A Few Minutes Later]

“Jet? Are feeling you okay? Does your stomach hurt?”

“No, my stomach doesn’t hurt.”

“Why are you making that sound like your tummy hurts?”

“There’s an airplane coming to the zoo. It’s flying.”

“Oh, I see. Well, it’s time for your bath now. Let’s go get your teeth brushed first.”

“I don’t want to take a bath. I get too cold when I take a bath.”

“You wouldn’t be too cold if you would let me put warm water in the bathtub. You always tell me it’s too hot.”

“It is too hot.”

“I don’t think so. I’m very careful to make sure it isn’t too hot for you.”

“I can’t breathe when I’m too warm. I try but I just can’t breathe when it’s too hot. That’s why I like to have the fan on at night ‘cause I just can’t breath when it’s too warm.”

“Well, I guarantee that if you let me put a little warmer water in the bathtub you will like it better and you’ll want to stay in it a long time.”

I gave Jet some cups to play with in the tub. “Soon you’ll smell fresh as a daisy.”

Fresh As A Daisy

Fresh As A Daisy

“But I don’t want to smell like a daisy!”

“Well, you’ll smell clean. And good. You don’t want to smell like a skunk!”

“There’s no such thing as skunk juice.”

“Skunks have a spray that smells pretty bad.”

“I’m ready to get out now.”

“Okay, let’s try wrapping your hair up in a little towel today. Maybe that will make you feel a little bit warmer.”

“Hey! What are you doing to my hair?!”

“Putting a towel on it.”

“Why!?”

“What do you think? What did I just tell you?”

“I don’t know.”

“I thought maybe it would keep you a little warmer if your wet hair didn’t touch your neck.”

Why!?”

It’s just something I wanted to try. Is it working?”

“Yes.”

“Now look in the mirror. Don’t you look adorable? You’re my little babushka!”

“No I’m not! I’m Jet!”