Monday, August 24, 2015

The Power of the Jenna Jab

She had her first birthday this past week. She  is less than two feet tall and weighs less than twenty-five pounds. Her vocabulary is limited to three or four words amongst many undecipherable sounds. However, this little stick of dynamite gets almost anything she wants and is able to get almost anywhere she wants to go with one repeated syllable accompanied by a pointing finger and an arm bent and straightened repeatedly. This gesture combined with, “Eh, eh, eh” will get the job done. I call it the Jenna Jab.

Did I mention there are adorable dimples in both cheeks, though one very much more prominent than the other, and a smile that could melt what’s left of the polar ice caps? Yes, the combination of these things mean that Jenna rules the world she inhabits. If you are one fortunate enough to have this little person waddle toward you with both arms stretched straight up in the air making the “eh, eh, eh” sound--which means she wants you, yes, you, to pick her up, and you do—from there on you are a slave. Wherever the Jenna jab points you will go and whatever the jab points to you will give her, as long as it is safe, of course. Trust me. These are the laws of nature in Gramasylum. As gravity insists “what goes up, must come down,” in Gramasylum “what and where Jenna jabs, Jenna gets and goes!” It’s life on this side of certifiable grama craziness.

There is only one obstacle currently in the way of her absolute rule—her three-year-old brother Kasen. He is not taken with the Jenna Jab. He regularly and consistently ignores it.  And, he goes further. He quickly interprets what it is she wants and is big enough and quick enough to get it before she can and keep whatever it is out of her grasp. Until a smitten parent or grandparent attends.  It would appear that the Creator,  either to test parental negotiation skills, or to ensure regular interaction, created a sort of sibling relational loop.  Younger siblings idolize their older siblings and want whatever they have,  while at the same time older siblings desire to teach younger siblings that might makes right and that size matters.   Jenna could jab her arm off and Kasen’s desire to teach would not be diminished. Unless, of course some parental negotiator is watching, which is almost all the time, and then it takes a little longer, but the Jenna Jab eventually triumphs. After all, she is little and does not understand (yah, right!) and he is the big boy who will teach her how to share by sharing. Wait. Doesn’t that mean Jenna always gets what she wants? Is that sharing? So the obstacle to her absolute rule, her brother, is also subject to the Jenna Jab, even if delayed and involuntarily.

Now, this might sound like Gramasylum allows partiality. The short view would seem so. The longer view reveals otherwise. So just in case, Kasen finds this blog in the future when he is reading about his crazy grama Cece, I want him to know he once had the place of rule and reign that Jenna now holds. Of course, we did not call it the Jenna Jab.  And, as I recall Kasen’s control of the world extended into days with more vocabulary.  He too used his arm. But it was a steady and firm directional gesture accompanied by the word “hefway.”  Kasen would point in a certain direction and say, “Hefway,” and off we would go. I took him wherever “hefway” was.  Gramasylum evolves and changes, and they may take turns, but the little people always rule. It’s crazy, and I  love it!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Outer Reaches of Gramasylum

So when do you say, “No,” to grandchildren? For those in Gramasylum,  very seldom. I was tempted on this occasion.
Papa and I were at Laurel’s house to take care of her while her new little sister arrived.  In the morning we headed out for a bagel, one of LoLo’s favorites for breakfast. Papa got his usual—jalapena cheese. Laurel and I got our favorite—cinnamon crunch.  This one was different. It was big and long! Holy cow! So Lo and I shared one. We were half way into the bagel when Lo took some of the cream cheese on her finger and started wiping it on my arm.

When I asked her what she was doing she answered quickly and confidently, “I’m putting sunscreen on  you.”
“What,” I asked incredulous?

“I don’t want you to get sunburned, so I am putting sunscreen on your arms,” she insisted.
So what did I do? My reflex response was to say, “Don’t do that!”

But my heart overruled. I let her put cream cheese on my arm and spread it around. I played along with her pretending the cream cheese was sunscreen. Fortunately she was satisfied with administering it on only part of the arm and did not go for my face or legs. Not sure I am crazy enough to have allowed that. The whole time she applied the “sunscreen” she had that adorable little grin on her face. The one that reveals she knew just how crazy it was that she was doing this and even crazier that I was letting her. But the delight on her face was worth all the sticky icky mess. After all, what harm can a little cream cheese do, right?
Why do I let her do these things? It is Gramasylum where decorum and dignity are offset by love and child-like fun. I had put sunscreen on her many times. Now it was her turn. At this age the playing along with her imagination is usually not convenient but it is almost always harmless. And, it is always lots of fun.  I mean what can a little cream cheese do to your arm? And playing along with her crazy imagination communicates that I love her—that I will do almost anything for her. Entering her childlike imaginative world let’s her know that she matters to me and that I care enough about her to give up decorum and dignity. Even though she does not know those words, she knows what they are. Believe me! That is what the adorable little grin is all about. She knows no adult in their right mind would allow a child to put cream cheese on their arm. But she knows by now that her Grama Cece is not in her right mind. She is crazy with oozing love for this little woman. This episode explored the outer reaches of Gramasylum, but it is likely the depths of craziness has not yet been plumbed.

What is the craziest thing you ever allowed one of your grandchildren to do to you? Share it in a comment below. Come on! Share the  craziness!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Indoor Playland and Ice Cream Craziness

Great anticipation grew as I planned a day with my Santa Clarita grandchildren, Kasen, 4, and Jenna who will be one in less than two weeks. Gramasylum was in full bloom as I intentionally drove after work  in rush hour traffic to get there.  It took me three hours to travel the 100 miles. Proving my youthfulness as I  approach a monumental birthday, I listened to a webinar to pass the time. Yes. I, Grama Cece, listen to, and on occasion watch webinars for my own professional development. I try not to watch them when I am driving. The challenge for me is remembering how to download them on my IPhone.

When I arrived in Santa Clarita the kiddos were in the front yard waiting excitedly for me.  I quickly forgot the three hour drive. Kasen started jumping up and down and came frightening close to the curb as I parked the car. Mom was close by monitoring so all was well. Jenna was grinning ear to ear and doing her characteristic point and jab when she wants something  or she wants to go somewhere. I call it the "Jenna Jab" and she gets pretty much whatever she wants this way. After hugs and smooches all around we settled in to the visit. Kasen immediately began planning the next day.
His excitement was displayed in his rapid fire interrogation.
“Where are we going to go, Cece?  What are we going to do? Can we go to a playground, Cece? Can we get ice cream?” Kasen asked.

“Of course! We can do it all,” I respond like any crazy Grama would.
“We will find an indoor playground if it is too hot (which is all the time in Santa Clarita between May and September) and we will find some ice cream,” I said with equal enthusiasm.

The first inkling that I had gone deep into Gramasylum and wondered “what was I thinking” came at the indoor playground.  Such venues being totally new to me this crazy and enthusiastic Grama was totally unprepared. Everybody who uses the playground needs socks. We were all sockless. But of course, they sell socks! How much? Who cares! This is Gramasylum and we were not turning back! They charge for babies over nine months? The Jenna Jab is already underway. How much? Who cares! We were all going in!
The indoor playground had four distinct play areas with lots of kids running back and forth like they had all just been taken off  sugar IV’s. Slides, and crawl tubes, an enclosed kitchen and even a small enclosed trampoline created a playing frenzy of kids. A wide range of ages and sizes comingled. The larger sized ones made the trampoline situation a bit concerning to me.  And the speed and frequency of passing children kept me vigilant in watching Jenna who though a great jabber is new enough to walking to be vulnerable to surrounding motion. The strong breeze of a passing larger child can knock her down. It was while I was watching the traffic in order to keep Jenna safe that I realized I had totally lost track of Kasen! And, a quick scan of the place did not produce a sighting. Sheesh! We’d been in the matrix less than ten minutes and I had already lost one child. I grabbed Jenna in spite of her jabbing to go in another direction and frantically searched every nook and cranny until I finally found Kasen in the corner of the kitchen. But still, there was a moment when I returned to the “what was I thinking” part of my brain. Two small children, indoors, and I can’t keep track of them for ten minutes? How did I do this with three of my own in the outdoors?!  God must have been watching over us on a fairly regular basis.

Several head to head encounters in the trampoline area, two or three near misses with fly by children, and multiple toy grabbing incidents needing intensive parental negotiations using language that I hardly recognized let alone understood well enough to participate, I decided it was time for ice cream.  The promise of ice cream lessened the trauma of leaving such a fun filled place. I think.
We found the perfect place for ice cream. Real ice cream and real inexpensive. Rite Aid. They scooped us up. A way too large cone for Kasen and a small cup for Jenna. I knew I would get the leftovers. $3.58. What a deal after the indoor playground that required a pint of blood from your wallet when you go unprepared. It was after we were all scooped up that I realized there was no place to sit indoors. This was not a restaurant or ice cream parlor. It was a drug store. And it was now 100 degrees outside. Gramasylum strikes again. What was I thinking? Cheap ice cream is no bargain with no place to sit and two children, three and not quite one, with melting ice cream and 100 degrees farenheit.  Before we left the store the cone was already dripping down the sides and the ice cream ready to fall off to the floor. I begged the clerk for another cup to put the cone in to avert the disaster. Then we headed outside.  

Fortunately we had a double stroller and I negotiated both kiddos sitting in it to eat their ice cream. I scanned the area for someplace to sit. Nothing. We walked around the corner and a pet store with a large bird swinging in the window looked like it might work. There were carpeted kitty towers of all shapes and sizes standing outside along the window wall. I found a kitty tower about the right height with a platform about the right size of my backside. I pulled the double stroller over into the shade and sat on the kitty tower. Kasen wanted his ice cream cone. Of course. So I used the little plastic spoon, almost breaking under the pressure, to cut off more than half the ice cream now tipped upside down in a cup in order  to make his cone a manageable size. I had to use my fingers, too. It was then that I realized I forgot to get napkins when we bought the ice cream. Diaper bag in the car, I had nothing. Oh yes. A little sippy cup of water is better than nothing. I opened it and poured some on my sticky hands and dried them in the wind. Finally, we were able to relax a little and enjoy the ice cream. 

This is Gramasylum at its very best. What was I thinking? I wasn’t. I did not spend any time wondering if I could navigate the indoor playground. I did remember or imagine what a challenge it is to do ice cream in hot weather with small children outdoors. I just love these kiddos and if Kasen says,
“Can we get ice cream?”

The answer when you are in Gramasylum is, “Of course!”
And wherever and whatever Jenna  jabs, Cece will find a way to go and to do. This is Gramasylum. Thinking is way down the list when crazy love takes over. And gratefully, God is always watching over us.