The baby grandson was here for a visit this weekend. Mommy had come to town for girls’ night out with college friends, big brothers were camping with Daddy, so the wee one came to stay with us. Oh, the joy. .. !!!!
He turned two right before our eyes. And like magic, the toddler who’d liked to play hide and seek and snuggle in Grandmary’s lap, suddenly wanted to pal around with Granddad.
Walking the dog is a favorite. He carries the leash, Winnie the Pooh, and his mittmitt (blankie)– thus doing all the heaving lifting, while Granddad has only to push the stroller for blocks and blocks, delighting in stopping to show off and chat with anyone they encounter. Stopping to pick up dog poop? Not so much for Granddad but Grandson finds it interesting. Yuck, Gwanddad!
It’s not all play for these guys, you know. Their work– filling the bird feeders, fixing the bicycle, finding stuff– is so precious to watch. He imitates Granddad’s every move.
Our dog, generally shy around children, adores him. Little One leaves an impressive trail of crumbs which would have kept Hansel and Gretel out of the witch’s oven. As if that weren’t enough largesse, he makes numerous requests for Kee-keys: dog treats to hand feed the pooch. So she follows him dutifully, loving his gentle pats. “Nose?” He thrusts Pooh at her. . . and she rubs noses with Pooh, to Little One’s great satisfaction.
Are doting grandparents and an old dog enough attraction that he and his brothers want to visit as they get older? Will they find us. . . um. . . boring?
Life was more . . . let’s say, eccentric. . . at MY grandmother’s house. The houses on her street, just blocks from downtown, stood close together and near the sidewalk. The large front porches became the most popular “room” in the house. Sidewalk traffic, trips to the corner stores, bicyles, hopscotch, yoyos (the toy and the odd-neighbor kinds) and jump ropes kept the street lively.
My grandmother’s siblings visited her regularly, wearing Sunday best for those long car trips. Not that she received them in similar style. A cotton slip, a simple cotton frock, stockings rolled down to her ankles in summer, just beneath her knees in cooler weather served as her standard attire around the house and expecting company didn’t change that. She wore underwear only off-site: visits to the doctor’s office, train rides, etc.
In retrospect, I can understand why. Just the yardage was amazing. The brassiere (never a ‘bra’) had helmet-sized cups and her immense pink bloomers could never be called “panties.” Only once did my friend and I play “Siamese Twins” by each stepping into a leg of the drawers (which hung to our ankles) and putting the brassiere atop our heads, using the bra cups as bonnets, and parade proudly up and down the sidewalk until a porch sitter phoned to tell her of our transgression.
When my grandmother’s younger sister visited, floating up the steps in a cloud of Estee Lauder and the latest in fashion, her seersucker-suited husband trailed behind her. They’d sit on the porch for awhile, but in hot weather he’d soon disappear into the house and return a few minutes later wearing one of my grandmother’s dresses, his socks. . . and nothing else. They’d sit in one of the rockers, put their feet up on the porch rail, and sip scuppernong wine. Didn’t even seem unusual to my childhood mind, but passersby who looked up? I shudder to think what they may have viewed.
My grandmother rented the rooms on one side of her house. The baseball stadium was only a few blocks away, so the players found it convenient place to live. Traveling entertainers on the school circuit–magicians, singers, jugglers -sometimes stayed there for a few days. I’d pass some cranky old man on the way to the bathroom, then see him a few hours later on stage in our school auditorium.
Then there were the crazy neighbors…. Mr. Thomas passed the house often, his nose so far up in the air my grandmother said he’d drown like a chicken if he got caught out in the rain. I watched for years, just in case. On the corner across from the store lived the man who supposedly beat his wife with his wooden leg. The millhand up the street, a gifted woodcarver, once carved a pair of miniature shoes for me while I watched.
We need to work on making it more interesting around here. My oatmeal-raisin cookies baking and ballgames with Granddad. . . how long will that be enough? When we lived in Wisconsin, the teenaged boy across the street practiced sword swallowing and fire-eating in his garage and we watched as we ate dinner. Veggies go down easier when a circus wannabe lives in the neighborhood. Now that would give us some serious grandparent cred!
Our neighbors aren’t pulling their weight. In a word, they’re dull, dull, dull. I don’t understand it. Shouldn’t the law of averages put something besides a high school kid who practices drums nearby? Any clowns, unicycle riders, in the ‘hood? Superman has to be living somewhere, right? Is there a Craig’s List for finding interesting neighbors?
‘Cause I don’t think my brother will go for wearing a dress.