Capt. Adorableland

Oh my cookies. I cannot believe it’s been a whole week since I’ve had the chance to sit down at my laptop to blissfully and abundantly waste time write thoughtful and meaningful blog posts. But when I tell you what I’ve been doing instead, you’ll understand: Being a full-time grandma. Yes! Our 3-year-old grandson, Capt. Adorable, stayed with us for several days while his mommy and daddy (Older Daughter and our son-in-law) did a major kitchen renovation and baby-nursery redo (in preparation for the Captain’s baby brother, who’s planning a mid-November arrival). And you know that I absolutely and positively adore being with the Captain 24/7 and if it weren’t for pesky obstacles such as having to work a little bit to make some money and wanting to spend more time with my husband than a quick bleary-eyed good-night kiss, I’d do it more often. At least, I think I would. This visit was actually the Captain’s longest here at our house by himself, and I did learn a few lessons.

A) You know how everybody says, “Aw, you don’t look like a grandma!” when you meet people in your normal life and they learn you have grandchildren? That’s because in your normal life you’re able to spend an hour on your hair and makeup in your by-now-perfected daily age-defying routine and spend the next hour in your closet choosing a coolly chic not-too-young but not-too-old outfit that hides and smooths and camouflages and flatters. When you actually are on grandmother duty, nobody says that. But it’s not your fault — it simply is because you have no time. No. Time. No makeup. No hair styling. No color coordination. You’re lucky if you can swipe on some deodorant, zip up the jeans you’ve worn for five days and find a T-shirt without chocolate-milk stains. Young-mom grunge is cute when you’re a 26 and look adorable in a pony-tail. Thirty years later? Not so much.

B) Stock up on whatever your pain-reliever of choice is — and I’m talking aspirin or acetaminophen or whatever here. No matter how fit you are, no matter how much you work out, no matter how many mountains you’ve climbed or marathons you’ve run, nothing compares to spending 24/7 in grandchildren-land. Especially if your grandchildren’s parents encourage those wonderful modern concepts such as Using Imaginations, Turning Off the Electronic Devices and Learning by Doing. The days of spending summer vacation parked in front of the TV are gone. Children today Get Out and Engage in Active Playtime. The result? A well-rounded and happily grounded child. And a sore and exhausted grandparent.

C) Remember the Mommy Network? No, not a Facebook group. I’m talking about when you yourself were a young mom and everywhere you went you just sort of naturally gravitated toward other young moms in similar circumstances. Well, the same thing is true three decades later: Grandmothers intuitively identify each other and quickly band together to commiserate, complain and plan a margarita night intelligently discuss child-rearing issues of the 21st century. And of  course there’s bragging. It’s a given that grandparents can brag on their grandchildren, who, naturally, are the brightest, smartest, funniest, strongest, kindest, most talented and most creative kids in the whole world. Every single one of them. Learn to listen politely and smile courteously as others share their stories since, obviously, they’re just filling time with their averageness until it’s your turn to dazzle with exceptionality.

D) And, finally, when the visit’s over and your household routine’s returned to normal and the cats have come out of hiding and you’ve cleaned cookie handprints off walls and roller-skate marks off floors and gotten all the chocolate-milk gunk out of the shot glasses, take a deep breath and enjoy a minute of well-earned quiet. Because even as you’re enjoying the chance to sip a glass of wine and read something that’s not Dr. Seuss, you can’t wait to do it all again.

The Captain Gets Crackin’

It’s true I started this grandparenting adventure three years ago with grand dreams of all the wonderful stuff I was going to buy Capt. Adorable. Luckily, his parents — Older Daughter and Best Son-In-Law Ever — knew better. They’ve created a home where the simple pleasures are valued more than the Toy of the Day.  And really, what else does the 3-year-old Captain need for an afternoon of family fun than a $2 bag of unshelled pistachios? At least that’s what I was hoping when that’s the present I brought to their house recently because grandmas always bring presents. And it was a hit on all levels. First there’s the joy of bypassing the bowl Grandma Kacky conscientiously set out and simply dumping the whole bag on the table. Then there’s the careful consideration of each nut, carefully assessing its ease of crackability and gauging the likelihood for one or both halves and/or the nut itself to go flying across the room when opened. When it comes to the cracking part, extreme concentration is required — and even sometimes requests for some help from above. Finally, there’s that lovely salty and green-nutty satisfying crunch that makes all that hard work worthwhile. Well … for the Captain, anyway. After going through about two-thirds of the bag, he hops down and is ready for the next adventure — building a pirate ship out of the couch cushions, maybe? — but I have to hurry and find the broom and other cleaning supplies before the Captain’s parents come home and find the huge mess we made so I can impress them with my grandmotherly housekeeping skills.