The last time…(More heartstopping chat with a mini-human)

I haven’t written in a while because it took me such a long time to recover from a whirlwind visit with my Angel Boy 2.0 as well as being presented to the Court of ANGEL GIRL 2.0, Baby Charlotte, named in honor of my mom.

The very definition of “hell on wheels.”

Below you’ll find a a fairly accurate transcript of my final day…If this was paper and not a computer screen, it’d be blurry with tear-stained ink. My tears. Heart wrenching love.

6:00 a.m. I hear swift and stompy footsteps running downstairs and soon my bedroom door opens, “Wake up, little Grandma!”

He climbs under the covers and snuggles close.

“How did you sleep, my little Theo?”

I’m not little Theo, you’re little Grandma.”

OK, how did you sleep, medium Theo?

“Goooood.”

“Did you have any dreams?

I can’t even begin to tell you the details of the storyline of the dream he recounted, because the twists and turns of his brilliant little mind involved Saturn (his fave planet), a dragon, a dinosaur, a spooky ghost, rocket ships to space, and a boat in the sky.

“What do you want for breakfast, T?”

“Last oatmeal, Grandma.”

“WHAT? What did you say?”

“This is the last time you’ll make oatmeal for me”, he said with a sad sad voice.

“Oh T, break my heart why don’t you?”

“It’s not the last time I’ll make oatmeal for you; there will alwaysalwaysalways be a next time. This is the last time for NOW. OK?

Then he was on a roll…all day long…

“Last cuddle, Grandma.”

“Last playing with Magna Tiles.”

“Last breakfast burrito.”

Calling out to dad who was still asleep upstairs, “DAD, COME DOWN FOR LAST BREAKFAST BURRITOS!”

“Last walk in the neighborhood.”

“Last bicycle ride to the school playground.”

“Last time you’ll get me dressed in the morning.”

“Last time you’ll read me a book.”

“UNTIL NEXT TIME, Theo! Not the last time forever, my angel!”

“Last time you’ll tel me to wash my hands after going to the bathroom”.

One of our running jokes is to look up as a jet flies overhead and say, “You missed your flight, Grandma! You’ll have to stay longer!”

Or I’ll look up and say, “Oh my goodness, T-man, we didn’t get to the airport in time, there goes my airplane, now what will we do??”

On our way to the airport for real, we sing songs and play funny word games.

“Grandma, I’m coming to your house for 59 days. I’m flying home with you. Not in the same plane, but the one that goes after.”

“Fifty-nine days? That’s a good long visit for sure.”

“Oh no, Grandma, we’re here. Last time to say goodbye”, he says in a that same small sad voice.

We hug and kiss goodbye, “Until next time, not forever, OK?”

“OK, Grandma. I love you.”

“I love you SO much, my angel.”

More brilliant convo with a human

Angel Boy 2.0 had a cold so he stayed home from preschool.

“I’m a little snotty today, Grandma!”
He was feeling much better after a long morning nap. We were in the living room looking at the windy day while he enjoyed a protein smoothie popsicle (see recipe below).

For the past couple of days, we had noticed a big truck parked in front of his house, taking up more than its fair share of the street. No one knew who it belonged to but we speculated that it possibly was a contractor’s vehicle working at a neighbor’s house.

Recently, Theo has been noticing different cars and trucks and asking for them to be identified. “I said, that’s a Dodge Ram truck. He is so rude to park there every day. He needs to park somewhere else.”

Theo repeated, “Yeah, he needs to park somewhere else. He’s so RUDE.”

All day long we would check to see if the truck was still there and it was, so it became an ongoing joke about how RUDE it was to park in front of Theo’s house so there wasn’t enough room for HIS car.

At dinnertime, we were sharing interesting stories about our day and in a moment of silence, Theo said, “Mommy and Daddy, that Dodge Ram truck is so RUDE!”

There was such a shocked expression on Mom and Dad’s faces, I really wish I had a photo to capture it because this is what it SOUNDED like Theo said…

That goddamn fuck is so RUDE!”

Dodge Ram truck = goddam fuck —a very expressive three-year-old with a mouth stuffed full of lasagna and a stuffy nose.

For a brief moment, I had a feeling they thought I had taught him how to swear like a merchant mariner. However, when I hastened to translate, we couldn’t stop laughing.

Until the mysterious man drove away, Theo kept saying, “He’s so RUDE with his Dodge Ram truck!”

Just another brilliant slice of conversation with this always enchanting human.

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Fruit and Protein Smoothie Popsicles

Cherries (any frozen or fresh fruit)
Banana – one
100% fruit juice — 8oz
Kale and/or spinach — handful
Vegan Protein Powder–one scoop
Cinnamon to taste

Combine kale and juice. Blend until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and blend to desired thickness. Pour into popsicle freezer containers, the ones with the little sticks. Freeze until firm.They are so healthy and delicious!

(Another) conversation with a human: “Who Misses You?”

Chatting at the table after a yummy and healthy dinner of salad from the garden, veggie kale tofu pie, and blueberry cobbler… my little guy said, “I missed you, Grandma.”

“I missed you too, Theo-saurus”

“That’s not my name. I’m a dimedatron.”

“Ok. I missed you too, Mr. Dimedatron.

“I missed you so much, Grandma. All the time.”

After another bite of blueberry cobbler,

“Why do you go away? I want you here forever and ever!”

“But I go home because that’s where my house is. I come to visit you and Mommy and Daddy and then I go home. But I’m here now, right?”

{Thinking for a minute. Pondering…}

“Grandma?”

“Yes, Mr. Dimedatron?”

“When you’re here at Theo’s house, who misses you from your house?”

Awkward silence around the dinner table. We all looked at each other.

What do I say? The sad truth is that no one misses me. No one at all.

So I replied…

“The coyote and the bunnies and the birds and the lizards miss me very much.”

And that satisfied him. For now. He has more compassion and empathy in his little three-year-old body than most adults.

No one misses me when I go away.

Harsh tragic truth.

A totally full moon post.

Glass half full.

Planet Theo

“I will keep YOU safe, Grandma!” as he runs across the lawn and jumps in my outstretched arms.

“I will keep YOU safe, Theo-saurus!” “We’ll be safe together, how does that sound?”

And we laugh at our little joke, over and over again pretending to be afraid of the remote control dinosaur, a gift from Grandpa for his third birthday.

“I like it when T-Rex dances, but I SORTA don’t like it when he roars!”

“Are you afraid of him, Theo?”

“Not really, Grandma. He’s not scary to me. Well, at first, I was a little bit afraid, but not anymore.”

“Me neither, T.” I said, to affirm his bravery and courage in overcoming his fear of a twenty-four-inch tall walking, roaring, dancing Tyrannosaurus Rex.

******

I’ve delayed for almost a week writing my observations of the arraignment last week of the  suspects arrested in the murder of a local woman.

In my dreams, I can still see the faces of those two monsters charged with stabbing her more than fifty times in the face and head.

As a diversion, I’d rather focus on something beautiful and positive, just a brief respite from the reality of dark and disturbed people who made a decision that seems so senseless; so cruel.

Back to Planet Theo…

The world really does revolve around him, and like most toddlers, this is an important developmental milestone.

The normal human brain is designed by evolution to generate the egocentric illusion: the illusion that the owner of a particular brain is the center of the universe.

Egocentrism refers to the child’s inability to see a situation from another person’s point of view.

Reading about this reminds me of the time I spent post-BA when I was in the teacher training program at university and we studied this fascinating subject.

According to Jean Piaget, the Swiss biologist and psychologist, the egocentric child assumes that other people see, hear, and feel exactly the same as the child does

SENSORIMOTOR STAGE (BIRTH TO 2 YEARS OLD)

The infant builds an understanding of himself or herself and reality (and how things work) through interactions with the environment. It is able to differentiate between itself and other objects. Learning takes place via assimilation (the organization of information and absorbing it into existing schema) and accommodation (when an object cannot be assimilated and the schemata have to be modified to include the object.

PREOPERATIONAL STAGE (AGES 2 TO 4)

The child is not yet able to conceptualize abstractly and needs concrete physical situations. Objects are classified in simple ways, especially by important features.

CONCRETE OPERATIONS (AGES 7 TO 11)

As physical experience accumulates, accommodation is increased. The child begins to think abstractly and conceptualize, creating logical structures that explain his or her physical experiences.

FORMAL OPERATIONS (BEGINNING AT AGES 11 TO 15)

Cognition reaches its final form. By this stage, the person no longer requires concrete objects to make rational judgements. He or she is capable of deductive and hypothetical reasoning. His or her ability for abstract thinking is very similar to an adult. (https://www.learning-theories.com/piagets-stage-theory-of-cognitive-development.html)

As we grow from children to adults, we first separate and then individuate from our family of origin. Separation entails moving away, starting a career, and setting up a home. Individuation is the process by which we grow into our own authentic self. Individuation is detached observation of the behaviors and beliefs we learned as children.(https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-24867/the-single-most-destructive-factor-in-your-search-for-real-love.html

Most of us move through these stages as we get older; our brains grow, we individuate, we see ourselves as part of the whole, each piece synergistically interacting with others; we learn empathy. Some do not. Those with personality and/or character disorders become stuck somewhere in the early stages of development and never truly individuate.

Genetics and environment both seem to play a part in preventing certain children from growing or developing properly, hindering and sometimes even completely inhibiting the ability to maintain healthy adult relationship connections.

That’s why it’s vitally important to educate ourselves about how the brain works, how emotions develop, how play and make believe are critical building blocks to lay a sturdy foundation of trust, love, and safe boundaries.

OK, off my soapbox for now. Happy 3rd birthday to the one and only Theo-saurus and happy birthday to Daddy too, Here’s the post about his birth, thirty-eight years ago. I am so proud of the man he’s become. And soon to be daddy to #2, the princess of all princesses. I’m already drooling over frilly pink dresses and pink blankets.

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We went camping in the Anza Borrego desert to see the full moon. That’s the Sawtooth Mountains.

I don’t have many pics ‘cos I was too busy trying to keep up with Planet Theo. We saw California Quail, bunnies, and heard coyotes. Life is GOOD.

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At Agua Caliente County Park and Hot Springs.
Just a daddy and his sun son. Keeping him safe. Forever and ever.
My heart is overflowing. (And I’m EXHAUSTED lol)
Back home and one final surf sesh.
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21 Months: Toddler Time

Lucky lucky me got to spend another week with Angel Boy 2.0.

AB 1.0 asked me to bring some of his favorite childhood Christmas tree ornaments that his grandma and I had collected over the years so they could continue the tradition.

We brought home a seven-foot Noble fir and spent my first night decorating the tree with Theo. It took a while, but he finally understood the concept of leaving the ornaments ON the tree and not pulling them off and throwing them like a major league pitcher.

Although it had been raining for a few days, while I was there, the weather was beautiful but FREEZING, at least for this SoCal girl. I was wearing about a dozen layers, perfectly suited for Pacific Northwest arctic temps.

The next morning Mr. T and I went on a walk to the marina. He was all bundled up and you can see the snow on the Olympic mountains in the background.

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On the way to Ballard Locks.64F334D4-FE48-441F-9658-D72E7951B705

After a power nap, Theo and I made a pizza, helping me roll out the dough and scattering sliced zucchini, green peppers, and broccoli over tomato sauce.  With lentil soup, it was a perfect winter lunch.

For some reason, I became his sole choice for ALL diaper changes…AmmahAmmah had to do them all, and there were NO complaints from mom or dad. Besotted as I am with this little human, even THAT melted my heart and I gladly complied with his request.

These moments are so fleeting – one minute you’re changing a diaper and the next you’re sending them off to college. I learned a long time ago with the original Angel Boy to appreciate each and every detail along the journey. Even diaper changes. Yes, even that.

When he was here for Thanksgiving and we walked to the park and he was kinda balky, I created the game of “Puppy” with each of us holding something (or a pretend something) as a leash to encourage him to keep moving, and he remembered (!) which meant there was lots of puppy play and kitty play. And tea parties.

Yes, I am the ULTIMATE playmate. Laser focused attention. HEAVEN. BLISSFUL. JOY.

EF00EA0F-55A4-43BB-9777-2D1BEB561D83As the sun set in the evening, he’d choose a few books and we’d snuggle on the sofa and wind down with Peppa the Pig or Postman Pat or his new Hannukah book or my favorite ones about animals.

He’s memorized so many stories that have already been read to him a billion times.

It’s an important interactive pre-reading experience.

To engage a bright young mind with a lifelong love of learning and reading is a goal we all share.

One of those priceless moments I’ll forever savor and never forget is the heavy weight of a perfectly relaxed little boy nestled in the curve of my protective arm, feeling his excitement as he points to the picture of a wolf when prompted and howls when asked, “what does a wolf say?”

The next day we went to his Gymboree class, which was so cool for me because I had taken his dad there when they first started franchising in the 1980s.

It was amazing to observe Theo’s interaction with the instructor and other children. He is so much like his daddy was at that age, it’s a great response to the debate of nature versus nurture. When my son was very little, a brilliant woman told me “he sees the world in his own way” and I saw those very same characteristics in Theo. He’s not shy, he’s exceptionally self confident, but like his dad, he’s reserved; a thinker and an observer, absorbing everything and filing it away in his mind to process in his own way, but he’s not much of an active participant, although he very much enjoyed himself and helped pick up and put away the musical instruments when it was over. This week was the culmination of Beatle’s music, so when we went back home, I played the same songs that we heard in class, Yellow Submarine, All You Need is Love, and Hello/Goodbye. Theo sung along and shook the maracas exactly the same way he had paid such close attention to. With all children, it’s a great idea to take their lead in situations like this and let them guide their level of participation.

His verbal skills are on fire now, parroting dozens of new words and learning sentence structure. I call it the Helen Keller moment. Two-word directives like “Theo down” …Choo choo loud” “Daddy home” is being expanded upon. DIL and I both heard him clearly say “I want Abby’s cake” when we had a little birthday party for a friend. OF COURSE he was rewarded with the cake that he wanted. OF COURSE. It’s all about positive reinforcement, right?

My brother came to visit from Portland for a couple of days and one of our excursions was the zoo. As you might imagine, I hate zoos. I hate caged and captive wild animals. I hate that their very existence is used to make money as entertainment. I HATE seeing them in their unnatural habitats. But I figured that if I went to the zoo, later on at the appropriate age, I could begin a discussion about all of that, so I did. Theo especially loves gorillas and flamingos, so that’s what we saw. I can’t tell you how sad it was to watch those magnificent gorillas who should have been SOMEWHERE ELSE and I actually thought they seemed depressed. I felt like I shouldn’t be looking at him. Tragic.

gorillazoo

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The very best part of the day was on the way out.

I noticed a woman crouched on one knee pointing a camera into a tree. I looked up and saw a magnificent OWL, also one of Theo’s fave animals. When he followed my gaze and saw the owl, he was transfixed. We stayed there for a bit and he called it Daddy Owl because it was so large. The sun was going down, so this isn’t the best pic, but it was a spectacular sighting.

owlzoo

Although he gifted me with a nasty sore throat and the beginnings of the flu or some type of upper respiratory infection, it was once again a magical time; although flying home to vicious Santa Ana winds and out of control fires, loss of homes, dozens of horses perishing, and emergency notifications from the city to prepare for possible evacuation brought me right back to reality. The winds have died down for now but are forecasted to be gust at 50+ mph on Sunday.

Bitter+Sweet

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This is how I know I had an amazingspectularawesome fun time with Angel Boy 2.0–when his playroom looks like we’re in the eye of a Category 5 hurricane.

Hurricane Theo lol.

Yes, that’s a ukelele–Theo loves music, and yes, that’s a tent. He won’t sleep in a crib and we’re exploring other options.

Since SoCal had record breaking heat, most of our time was spent at the beach or the park or in the garden.

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Or even cooking with Grandma…which actually meant he was eating all the food in the bowl as I prepared my world famous Kugel, the only time canned fruit enters this house haha.

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I hope everyone had as wonderful and exhausting Thanksgiving as we did.

Now it’s time to clean up the mess.

That’s the bittersweet part. Saying goodbye. And the silence. No squeals, no laughter, no JOY!!!

What’s NOT the best choice for a bedtime story? Ballad of the Harp-Weaver.

There sat my mother
   With the harp against her shoulder
Looking nineteen
   And not a day older,
A smile about her lips,
   And a light about her head,
And her hands in the harp-strings
   Frozen dead.

 

Since I was lucky enough to become a grandma (thank you DIL!) I’m always searching for new and interesting books to tempt Angel Boy 2.0 and his voracious appetite for words and pictures and language. One of my favorite photos was of AB 2.0 at around two months looking intently at AB 1.0 while he read a story. We swear he was paying attention. Maybe/maybe not, but we like to think so.

I went to our local library where they have a store staffed by volunteers and always find great books-sadly some never even cracked open-and grabbed an armful.

I parked myself in a little child-sized chair and briefly skimmed through my treasures. I found a book by one of my son’s favorite authors, James Herriot, who wrote All Creatures Great and Small and Moses the Kitten, along with about a dozen other really good stories, mostly about animals (my personal interests shining through).

Somehow, though, this book slipped by…

The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver by Edna St. Vincent Millay, illustrated by Beth Peek.

Visually stunning, I anticipated a lovely illustrated poem that Theo would enjoy, but waited until I had already driven home to fully read this one.

UH OH, thank goodness I read it first and I’m even more grateful that Theo can’t read at all.

I know I initially read it in high school, because as soon as I saw this page, the horror I had initially felt–returned.

A bedtime story? I think not. Not unless you want to seed some traumatic nightmares! I can’t imagine what kind of positive life lesson there could be here, can you?

I didn’t remember that it ended with the mom dying, having sacrificed her life for her son, and it’s not even that I DISAGREE with that concept because I believe a good parent should place her/his needs beneath those of the innocents we bring into this universe, BUT the guilt trip that little guy will most likely endure isn’t an equivalent value for having his loving mother ALIVE.

No wonder it appeared that this book looked as if it had never been touched.

The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver

“Son,” said my mother,
   When I was knee-high,
“You’ve need of clothes to cover you,
   And not a rag have I.
“There’s nothing in the house
   To make a boy breeches,
Nor shears to cut a cloth with
   Nor thread to take stitches.
“There’s nothing in the house
   But a loaf-end of rye,
And a harp with a woman’s head
   Nobody will buy,”
   And she began to cry.
That was in the early fall.
   When came the late fall,
“Son,” she said, “the sight of you
   Makes your mother’s blood crawl,—
“Little skinny shoulder-blades
   Sticking through your clothes!
And where you’ll get a jacket from
   God above knows.
“It’s lucky for me, lad,
   Your daddy’s in the ground,
And can’t see the way I let
   His son go around!”
   And she made a queer sound.
That was in the late fall.
   When the winter came,
I’d not a pair of breeches
   Nor a shirt to my name.
I couldn’t go to school,
   Or out of doors to play.
And all the other little boys
   Passed our way.
“Son,” said my mother,
   “Come, climb into my lap,
And I’ll chafe your little bones
   While you take a nap.”
And, oh, but we were silly
   For half an hour or more,
Me with my long legs
   Dragging on the floor,
A-rock-rock-rocking
   To a mother-goose rhyme!
Oh, but we were happy
   For half an hour’s time!
But there was I, a great boy,
   And what would folks say
To hear my mother singing me
   To sleep all day,
   In such a daft way?
Men say the winter
   Was bad that year;
Fuel was scarce,
   And food was dear.
A wind with a wolf’s head
   Howled about our door,
And we burned up the chairs
   And sat on the floor.
All that was left us
   Was a chair we couldn’t break,
And the harp with a woman’s head
   Nobody would take,
   For song or pity’s sake.
The night before Christmas
   I cried with the cold,
I cried myself to sleep
   Like a two-year-old.
And in the deep night
   I felt my mother rise,
And stare down upon me
   With love in her eyes.
I saw my mother sitting
   On the one good chair,
A light falling on her
   From I couldn’t tell where,
Looking nineteen,
   And not a day older,
And the harp with a woman’s head
   Leaned against her shoulder.
Her thin fingers, moving
   In the thin, tall strings,
Were weav-weav-weaving
   Wonderful things.
Many bright threads,
   From where I couldn’t see,
Were running through the harp-strings
  Rapidly,
And gold threads whistling
   Through my mother’s hand.
I saw the web grow,
   And the pattern expand.
She wove a child’s jacket,
   And when it was done
She laid it on the floor
   And wove another one.
She wove a red cloak
   So regal to see,
“She’s made it for a king’s son,”
   I said, “and not for me.”
   But I knew it was for me.
She wove a pair of breeches
   Quicker than that!
She wove a pair of boots
   And a little cocked hat.
She wove a pair of mittens,
   She wove a little blouse,
She wove all night
   In the still, cold house.
She sang as she worked,
   And the harp-strings spoke;
Her voice never faltered,
   And the thread never broke.
   And when I awoke,—
There sat my mother
   With the harp against her shoulder
Looking nineteen
   And not a day older,
A smile about her lips,
   And a light about her head,
And her hands in the harp-strings
   Frozen dead.
And piled up beside her
   And toppling to the skies,
Were the clothes of a king’s son,
   Just my size.

Shake It Off

Not the Taylor Swift tune, although it’s one of my faves, but I’m talking about shaking off the much too serious posts I’ve been writing about wetiko, death, and the dark night of the soul!

While I haven’t done a whole lot of retail therapy shopping lately unless it’s toys or clothes for a growing Angel Boy 2.0,  I’ll tell you about a heartbreakingly exquisite moment that he and I shared on a recent visit.

Picture this: he lives between Puget Sound and some MAJOR railroad tracks. The good thing is the neverending entertainment of watching boats and sunsets and moonrises and the tiny little beach that’s across the street and the less good thing is the long and loud freight trains that heavily traverse the tracks all day and all night.

However, to a little boy, choo choos are AWESOME and AMAZING ALL THE TIME, exactly like his daddy thought at that age. We often drove to the train museum at Balboa Park and rode the little train there, too.

The day I was leaving, as I was packing my suitcase, Theo came in my room and grabbed my hand. I said, “What’s up, Mr. T? I’m packing up to go home, do you want to help?”

He looked at me intently still holding my hand and pulled me to my feet. In a sweet, small voice, he whispered excitedly, “AmmahAmmah, choo choo!” and raised his arms so I could pick him up. We stood at the window and he patted my back and leaned into me as I read to him all the names on the cars and we counted them until the train passed. I counted 56 cars and never wanted to put him down. I wish there had been 10,556 more.

Time stopped for those few minutes.

Nothing else mattered.

A boy, his grandma, a shared love of trains, and the beauty of a little human whose spirit shines so brightly even at eighteen months that he already knows the meaning of life and of happiness, being fully invested in the moment, the mindfullness of joyful living that some of us seem to lose as we transition into adults.

My little buddy. Beyond adorable…THEO-dorable!

This is the Balboa Park train. Can’t wait to take 2.0 !!!

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Gratitude + Joy

I don’t often post pictures of Angel Boy 2.0 because we are all protective of his image but every single time I look at this photo, it sets my world right again, so I thought I’d share it with my friends.

With hurricanes and floods and fires and murders and other toxic disasters that seem to engulf our consciousness lately, there’s the opposite and equally powerful tug of LOVE at our hearts and minds and souls and spirits.

He’s the reason why my sun rises every single day.

Pure in his magnificence, my heart softens and melts. And heals.

Just a boy and his Peppa the Pig plate full of a lentil burger, broccoli, hummus, and tomatoes.

Pure love. We all need a big dose it right about now.

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A Little Name Change

Although I thought Princess Rosebud just about said it all; aspiration as well as inspiration, I’ve been renamed.

For most of my life, the most wonderful way to get my attention was to hear my son call out “MOM or Mommy!” and I’d immediately stop what I was doing and give my 100% laser-focused attention to Angel Boy.

I never thought I’d become an obnoxious grandmother; it’s a huge surprise to me, but I confess that I’m REALLY obnoxious. I show pics of Theo to friends at the gym and complete strangers. He’s the most amazing child in the world. HE IS, I promise you.

But now things are different. I still love to hear my son refer to me as Mom, but it doesn’t touch my heart the way it does when Theo, Angel Boy 2.0, wants his  “AmmahAmmah”.

It’s the most beautiful sound in all the land, along with the song of the coyote and the howl of a wolf.

Theo first named me “Gammma” and it’s morphed into “AmmhaAmmah”, which sounds cool and hip and a for sure guarantee that he will forever and ever get every single toy that he will ever want.

ammatheoThose eyes, that hair, oh yes, he’s my heart of hearts.

What do your grandkids call you?