Char has a teensy bit more of a calm way about her; slightly less intense than her force of nature brother, but still as determined to exist in this world on her terms.
She calls flies “fly guys”. No one is really sure where this monniker came from, but now we all refer to them that way.
Also for some reason, she doesn’t like ants. It seems as if she believes they purposely infringe on her space. When she sees ants, she crouches down and blows on them, “Gone, ant!”
I’ve attempted to explain that they have as much right to live here on planet Earth as we do and we need to be kind, and I know her big brother understands that, but Char views the world from a different lens.
Like I said, C is slightly less feral than her brother and dad (and mom too).
She really doesn’t like to go camping.
“Home NOW!” she says.
“Did you have fun camping in the mountains?”
A resounding “NO” from Char. The girl loves her comforts and her lotions and her sparkles.
I’m sure you can guess who appropriated all of my Hello Kitty items.
That story is now; we need to go back in time to a week ago before it’s Grandma to the rescue.
It’s all a bit convoluted, but I’m accurately depicting the chain of events. I hope you can follow along and it’s not too confusing.
Contained in the box of gifts for his half birthday was a little ball from the dollar store that caught my eye because it was soft and squishy and was an actual face of a tiger, not simply a cartoon rendering.
He has lovely eyes and an endearing quality, don’t you agree?
When T FaceTimed me as he was opening the box, Dad set the phone down so I could watch him and we could chat about all the items. As soon as he picked up the ball, he fell instantly in love. He gave it a hug and stroked his cheek with it, which is the sign for mother (although he’s not aware of that).
He immediately said, “Grandma, I love love love this tiger. Do you know what I’m going to name him? I’m going to name him Tiger.”
I said, “It makes me happy that you love him, I thought you might, and Tiger is a perfect name!”
He gave Tiger another hug.
I said, “Hey T, how about whenever you hug Tiger, that will be exactly like a hug from me. It’s Grandma hugging you all the time. What do you think about that?”
“Every single time you hug Tiger, it’s ME hugging you back.”
And then he started kissing it. So yes, my heart overflowed again and broke at the same time because it’s still not safe to travel to give him real Grandma hugs.
Later on, Mom texted me that Tiger had become his new “favorite” and he wouldn’t go anywhere without him and slept next to him on the pillow.
So the backstory is simple. T really really bonded with Tiger and he was the object representation of my unconditional LOVE.
Now you’re all caught up, right?
Yesterday in the late afternoon, my phone rang and this is how FaceTime started.
No “Hello”, just “Grandma, I got to tell you. It’s bad, real bad. Something bad happened.”
“Hello, my T.”
“Oh yeah, hello Grandma, you aren’t gonna like this.”
Now if you’re wondering why I was so calm (which I was) it’s because I know beyond any shadow of any doubt that if something really catastrophic had occurred, I would have heard about it from mom or dad, and they wouldn’t have allowed a four-year-old to become the messenger of something terrible that had befallen one of them.
Anyway, my Grandma-spidey-sense kicked in and I could pretty much figure out what constituted a crisis in his lovely little life.
“What happened, tell me!”
“OK. Listen. but I have to show you. You aren’t gonna like it. I’m gonna flip.”
When he flips the camera to show me what’s in his hand, my crystal ball vision was confirmed.
There was damage to the tiger ball. One ear had been slightly chewed off.
“Oh my. Poor Tiger. How did that happen?”
“Well, Grandma, Charlotte used those two little teeth of hers to tear off his ear. Can you believe it?”
“I hope she didn’t eat it, did she?”
“No. I was being kind and shared it with her for just a minute and she damaged him.”
“T, that is pretty sad for Tiger, I agree. I understand you are sad about it. How about if you put it up on a high shelf so that Char can’t get to it and I’ll fix him the next time I’m there. You know how good I am at fixing things, right?”
“OK Grandma, I will. I know exactly where to put him.”
“Now let me see your beautiful face for a minute.”
“There we go. That’s good.”
“I’m going to flip MY camera because I want to show you a surprise I have for you.”
I walked into his bedroom.
“Look, T. What do you see?”
“Yes, way. As soon as I saw how much you loved Tiger, I went back to the store and got another tiger, just in case something happened to him. And the balls were all so cute, I got a kitty cat and a sloth, too. See?”
“DADDY YOU HAVE TO COME HERE AND SEE WHAT GRANDMA HAS.YOU WON’T BELIEVE IT. HURRY AND SEE!!”
“A sloth? Show me again. Grandma, you know how much I love sloths, don’t you?”
(Says Daddy, “Good call, Grandma. He was really upset.”)
“T, I’m going to mail them to you first thing in the morning and you should have them by Saturday. That’s three days from now.”
“Grandma, can you go to the post office NOW and mail them to me?”
“It’s a bit late in the day, so it will have to be in the morning, but I promise I’ll do it first thing, OK?”
“DAD, GRANDMA’S GOING TO MAIL THEM TO ME FIRST THING IN THE MORNING.”
“Now we have that problem solved, don’t we? That will make everything better, don’t you think? Maybe it will be a good idea not to let Char get too close to the balls so that she doesn’t chew on them, right? She’s still such a little one and is learning what can and can’t go in her mouth. We need to be very careful with her.”
Apparently we were done with that subject and his fears were sufficiently allayed because he entered the Twilight Zone with his next topic…
“Grandma? I’m going to pick you up from the airport tomorrow. It might take me a week to get there, but I’m going to be there and the first thing you’ll say is, ‘There’s my Theo!!””
“Whoa, um, T, I’m not actually going to get on an airplane tomorrow, you know that, don’t you?”
“It’s going to take me a long time to get there, probably a week, but I’ll be there.”
“I hope I can see you really soon, Angel Boy, and then I will give you the BIGGEST HUG ever.”
“OK, Grandma, Bye.”
And that was it.
Whew, good thing I’m Grandma to the rescue. Crisis averted.
If only all disasters were so easily solved, right?
Like the metamorphosis of a butterfly, babies change from inert objects to crawling on all fours to becoming bipedal.
Uh oh, Angel Girl 2.0 started walking yesterday! You can see T in the water with Dad looking on. In the blink of an eye, they’ll both soon be at university.
Now and forever, they’re always walking away. “Hey, wait for me!”
(Yup, it’s Puget Sound with the Olympic Mountains off in the distance.)
That little red wagon has many stories to tell. I acquired the first one here at Casa de Enchanted Seashells when T was about a year old and he loved it so much that Mom and Dad got him a duplicate for their home. This is the same one: Radio Flyer 2-in-1 Walker/Wagon. If anybody needs a very sturdy, stable, well-made wagon, try it! If it can survive AB 2.0, you can be sure it’s worth every penny.
Same age, same wagon, always walking away. Nice outfit, though, and you can see the curls are already making their presence known.
My little guy and I LOVE LOVE to search for rocks and seashells and feathers and other treasures.
It doesn’t matter if we’re walking in the neighborhood or at the beach or in the mountains, we make time to search for Mother Nature’s precious gifts.
Holding a rock in his little (but almost as big as mine) hand, he says, “Is this a keeper, Grandma?”
I take a look, think for a minute, and reply, “No, not that one. It’s not asking me to come home. Let’s leave it for someone else to find and bring to their house.”
“How about THIS one, Grandma?”
“Oh YES, T! That’s exactly the kind I love. It’s perfect.”
“OK, you bring it home with you and I’ll see it when we come to your house.”
“Why do you love rocks so much?”
“Great question, T. I love them because they make me happy and I like to collect pretty things. Why do YOU like rocks?”
“They make ME happy, too, Grandma!”
“OK. Think about this. You like it when you get presents in the mail, right? Well, this is getting presents too, but they don’t cost money and we get to have so much fun finding them together, so when we’re not together, we can remember what fun we had.”
“Hey, T, is this the kind that you like?”
I’m holding a pure white oval rock.
“Oh yes! Do you want it, Grandma?”
“That’s very kind of you to think about me, T, but this one is for you. Let’s look for more.”
At this point, all my pockets are full and weighted down by rocks and seashells, and my backpack has no more room, either.
“T, look at me, I’m all loaded down! Let’s leave some to find next time, OK?”
“Grandma, we love rocks so much, don’t we? I put the special ones in the little box you sent me. Where do you keep yours?”
“My special favorites are on the windowsill in my bedroom, so I can see them every day and think about you.”
“Can you take a picture of them and send it to me?”
“I know I am. I’m a very small person and now you’re almost as big as I am.”
“Let’s compare hands, little Grandma!”
“OH MY GAWD, Grandma. My hand is almost as big as yours now!”
“I know, T, remember I told you that you are growing and growing every day and I stay the same size?”
“You’re my old little Grandma.”
*Yes, I am. (Lolz.)*
“Grandma, can you carry me?”
“I don’t think I can do that anymore, but let me try. You are so tall and SO heavy. I can pick you up, but I can’t carry you now. Daddy will carry you if you’re tired.”
“Daddy, Grandma cut triangles and hearts and circles and squares and I glued them to a piece of paper. Do you wanna see? Grandma said that’s one of the things I’ll do when I go to Kindergarten.”
“Grandma, did your little boy Daddy do that too? Did he like to glue shapes? Did he like to read? Did he like to watch Sesame Street? My Daddy is your little boy, right, Grandma? But he’s a man so how can he be your little boy? He’s big. My Daddy is so big. He’s bigger than you, little Grandma.”
“If there’s no gravity in space, how did the astronauts not float away when they were on the moon?”
What a great and thoughtful question, T. Let’s research it and find the answer.”
“Grandma? Do you love me more than a chocolate cupcakes with sprinkles?”
“Hmm, that’s a really tough one, buddy. I do love chocolate a LOT. Let me think about it. Well, the answer is yes, I love you more than a chocolate cupcake with sprinkles.”
“Do you love me more than seashells and rocks?”
“Oh NO, that’s going to be so hard. Let me give it some thought. *Sigh*. You definitely know how much I love seashells and rocks, but I love you so much MORE.”
This went on for the longest time until he was completely assured that I love him more than ANYTHING IN THE WHOLE WORLD.
Four going on thirteen. That’s Angel Boy 2.0, or as he likes to be referred to when he’s cooking: “Mr. Ovens”.
I have no idea where he gets that precocious attitude. Well, yes I do, but that’s another story.
Since the pandemic has eliminated all of our in-person visits, T-boy and I have been chatting on the phone a lot, sometimes several times a day.
If he sees my favorite breed of dog walk by his house, he likes to call me and say, “Grandma, I just saw a Border Collie, you love Border Collies, don’t you?”
Or he’ll call and flip the camera around to show me his weather, “It’s supposed to rain today but right now there’s some blue sky and clouds.” “What’s your weather like today at your house, Grandma?”
He likes to call me after dinner when Mom is giving baby a bath and putting her to bed and before his bath and bed routine. Dad is usually working in the garden and I’ll get a call.
“Hello, my special friend! How was your day? ”
“GOOOD. I’m outside with Daddy. You know what, Grandma? I had to call you. I swear. Daddy went on a skateboard and didn’t wear his helmet again. I swear. I told Daddy you want him to wear his helmet but he doesn’t. He wears it on his bicycle but not when he’s skating with me. I wear my helmet, Grandma.”
“Thank you for telling me about Daddy. And I’m so proud of you for making good choices and wearing YOUR helmet. Well done!”
“Let me talk to Daddy, OK?”
And then I hear…
“Dad? Daddy? Jay? Jas? JASON NATHANIEL!! Grandma wants to talk with you. I told her about the helmet situation.”
It cracks me up every single time I hear T call his daddy by his other names using the same exact inflection that he’s heard. Pretty adorable.
“Oh you did, huh? Hello, Grandma.” Says the original boy who stole my heart so many years ago.
“DADDY, I was just informed that you are still not wearing your helmet when you skate with T. You do not need to be told about traumatic brain injuries, you know all about that. Who will take care of your babies when you are incapacitated?”
“Geez, he’s a tattletale haha. I wear it sometimes.”
“Dad, did you hear what Grandma said?”
“Hey, T, I have an idea. Tell Daddy that I won’t allow him to go surfing the next time you guys come to visit if he doesn’t make good choices and wear his helmet.”
I hear him yelling at the top of his lungs, “DAD! GRANDMA SAID YOU CAN’T GO SURFING IF YOU DON’T WEAR YOUR HELMET!”
Then I hear Dad, “OK, tell Grandma I will.”
“Grandma, did you hear that? Daddy said he would wear his helmet.”
“Awesome job, T. We love Daddy and we want him to be safe just like we want you to be safe, right?”
“Right, Grandma. Hey, look at me jump! Grandma, I can jump so high! Grandma, did you send me a box of presents? Did you send The Borrowers Aloft?”
“I did, you’ll get the box in a couple of days.”
“DAD!!! JAY!!! I swear, I told you Grandma sent the second Borrower’s book! I knew she did. I told you not to buy it, I remember Grandma said she was going to send it.”
“OK Grandma, I’m going to go now. I’m going to have a bath. High five, Grandma.”
He likes to “high five” the phone.
“Bye, T. I love you.”
“Bye Grandma, love you, too. I’m going to hit the red button now.”
Every day starts at around 5:45 a.m. It’s nonstop talking unless he’s eating or sleeping.
“Grandma?” Which really sounds more like “Grand-maw” if you’re sounding it out.
“I’m hungry. Let’s go in the kitchen and I’ll sit on the big stool and watch you make my breakfast.”
“Grandma? Why is it still dark out? Why do you love seashells so much? Can I have this rock? Why do you cut up my apple like that? Why do you make me oatmeal? Why is the stove hot? I burned myself one time and Mommy put ice on it. Why do you put cinnamon in it? I wish I was in a rocket ship and could fly off to space.I didn’t wet my bed last night. I’m wearing my Batman undies. Look, Grandma, look at me. Why do you love me so much? I’m your first little boy, Daddy is your second little boy. Right, Grandma? Right? Grandma, are you making coffee now? Why do you do that? That’s the same kind of coffee you get at MY house. We have a Trader Joe’s there, too. Is this safe, Grandma? (As he jumps from the chair to the sofa, and back.)
“Be ever so careful, my favorite boy!”
Silence as he’s eating his breakfast. But not for long…
“I’m really smart, ammnt I, Grandma?”
“Yes, T?” “Is that a TV screen? I only get to watch it for special. When do you watch it, Grandma? Why are you so small, Grandma? Daddy’s big and you’re small. You’re my little Grandma. I’m going to be bigger than my Daddy soon. Like when I’m six or twelve. I will, I really will. I’m not kidding. For reals. My Dad is SO strong, right, Grandma? Why did your little boy grow up, Grandma?
That one got me. “Hmmm”, I said. “I think about that too, T. Sometimes I wish Daddy was still a little boy and then I think that he grew up so he could have a little boy like you and make me so happy. What do you think?”
“I think….I think that I want a breakfast burrito now. I’m still hungry.”
Yup, he’s his Daddy’s little boy, that’s for sure. No doubt about it.
The questions have been coming fast and furious as soon as he turned three.
It started with ” where do sloths live?” and I said, “Let’s go to the library tomorrow and do some research.”
The next day we went to the library and checked out a few book about sloths.
After that it was “let’s do research” about everything that had been cooking in his brilliant little mind.
“I love the solar system, my favorite planet is Neptune, I love Neptune because it has rings. We live on planet Earth. I want to know about astronauts.”
Another trip to the library; more books. When he learned that astronauts wear diapers in space, he had to repeat that fact at least a hundred times.
“What happened to dinosaurs?” “Why aren’t there dinosaurs anymore? Why are they only in museums? Why are they just skeletons now?”
“What’s lightening?” “How does electricity work?” “How does a volcano erupt?” “How do bees make honey?”
That question couldn’t be answered very easily with a book, so we did something really special: computer research. We found a video that explained it in a way a toddler could understand. I have to admit that I didn’t know exactly how bees made honey and what we learned made me appreciate the importance of bees even more than I did before. For example, did you know that forager bees have two stomachs, one just to capture the pollen that will eventually turn into honey? Or that some of the jobs that other bees in the colony have is to vomit the contents of their stomach into a succession of about twenty other bees’ stomachs so that certain chemical changes can take place? Or that all the bees work together to flap their wings and evaporate the liquid when first placed in the comb and that when the liquid becomes thickened—well, that’s the end product—honey. In order to produce just one pound of honey, 2 million flowers must be visited. A hive of bees must fly 55,000 miles to produce a pound of honey. One bee colony can produce 60 to 100 pounds of honey per year. An average worker bee makes only about 1/12 teaspoon of honey in its lifetime. I’m THIS MANY YEARS old and never knew all of that. It took a brilliant 3.5 year old child to teach me!
Finally, my very observant little grandson said this… “Why don’t you eat meat, Grandma?” When I gave him a simple answer about how I love animals and don’t like to eat them, he said he didn’t like to eat animals either. His mom told me that later that afternoon, he asked her why Grandma doesn’t like to eat animals.
I’m so grateful to be able to generate a thought process like that. We are in desperate need of his generation to make the world a better place. Kinder, more compassionate. More empathy for all living creatures with whom we co-exist on this planet and learn to become better stewards of our oceans and the air we all breathe.
He’s so adorably exuberantly awkward in his joie de vivre. But me? I’m beyond exhausted with so much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving.