Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Body Parts

The other morning my grandson mooned me on Skype. 

It was Pooh, so I can't say it was entirely unexpected.  The boy has always known how to capitalize on the element of surprise that results when he chooses to unveil certain of his body parts.

Mind you, this is the child whose self-created superhero persona is "Naked Man."  You will be relieved to know that, at his mama's insistence, his original image has been modified to include underwear.  (This turns out to be a blessing in disguise, as it gives Naked Man a place to stash his sword.)

An aside: No pic with this blog for fear of being arrested by the kiddie porn police.  But I have to admit that a picture of Naked Man in all his glory is my current choice showcasing Pooh in the "googery," or gallery of grandkid photos hanging on the wall in the kids' room here at Googie's.

Anyway, the word "bottom" was one of the originals in Pooh's vocabulary, and he understood what it referred to long before he ever said it.  This brings to mind a favorite story from the vast annals of "Pooh Lore" we have been collecting for the past four and a half years:

Once, when he was only eighteen or twenty months old, he was sitting on his mama's lap brushing his teeth before bedtime.  "Brush your top teeth," Cookie coached, and he did.  "Now brush your bottom teeth," she said-- whereupon he stopped abruptly, and you could see the wheels turning in that little head.

Immediately, he turned the toothbrush upside down to brush the seat portion of his fuzzy, footed jammies.  I happened to capture the whole incident in a digital camera video, which should make good blackmail material when he is a teenager.

Now that Pooh's repertoire includes other words for "bottom," he continues to interchange them, sometimes with amusing results.  Last time he was here, he asked me to retrieve a toy that had sunk to the floor of the swimming pool. 

"Where's your water gun?" I asked.

"It's down on the pool's butt."

"You mean bottom?"

"Yes," he said, unaware of any semantic problem whatsoever.  "Can you get it for me?"

Although Pooh seems to be the one most preoccupied with body parts, his sisters will occasionally throw in their two cents' worth.  Sooby, our own little artist in residence,  recently produced a pen and ink version of an anatomically correct horse family, which I was most happy to have shared with me as a text message but which again, for obvious purposes, I hesitate to share here.

And even little Bootsie has coined a term for a woman's upper undergarment with her recent reference to her mama's "booby lids."  (Well, it kind of makes sense if you think about it.)

With two other baby grandsons only beginning to talk and another expected in November, I would imagine we are hearing only the beginning of the tome of "body parts" stories we will end up with.

But considering the recent Skype experience, I am thinking Pooh is the one we will have to watch the closest.  Unless, of course, we really don't mind being caught as the bottom of one of his jokes.



Monday, August 12, 2013

The Bosco Jar

Ever since my dad died almost two years ago, my mother has been on a cleaning out and purging mission.  In that time she has emptied two outdoor sheds, the basement, the attic, and numerous drawers, closets, and cabinets.

While some of the more meaningful family heirlooms have been parceled out to kids and grandkids, she has advertised her treasures and trinkets by way of radio, newspaper, and phone calls to unsuspecting second-hand store proprietors.  In addition, she has had six or seven two-day garage sales in an effort to disperse some seventy years' worth of collectibles, each object somehow representing both a moment in time and a memory.

For me, this process has been like watching my own life rewind in slow motion.  As we have dug more and more deeply into the bowels of the house and outbuildings, I have stood at the curb of a nostalgic parade of photographs, keepsakes, and mementos. 

The top layer of objects recalls events my own children shared with their grandparents.  Further excavation reveals the stuff, some of it long forgotten, of my teen years and childhood--for instance, old glass Pepsi bottles like the ones we used to cash in, at two cents apiece, for a candy bar down at Mary's corner store. 

As Mom opened the garage door at her most recent sale, I was just settling myself into the official cashier's chair when an especially unusual object caught my eye:

It was an old Bosco chocolate syrup jar, and just the sight of it triggered a flood of memories and a sweet return, however brief, to the late 1950s.  It opened some long-forgotten door to a room where lived a little girl, who, with hair in a ponytail and bare feet, rode a red Schwinn with saddle baskets over the back fender down an uneven brick sidewalk.

She would spend lazy summer days playing paper dolls on a blanket spread in the grass or knocking locust shells from tree branches with a broomstick.  Toward evening she would wait patiently on the front porch for the first firefly to flicker, her cue to grab a hammer and a nail to poke holes in the lid of an empty jar--like this one--and prepare for the night's catch.

With nightfall she would perch on an old tree stump, unscrew the jar lid, and watch her orange-bellied quarry take off, one by one, from the open jar's glass lip.  Once airborne, each one would give a final flicker and buzz away into the vast, open arms of the night.

They disappeared so quickly, I remembered, like the smoke from a blown-out paper match--there one second and gone the next.  Like the last ray of sunlight from beneath the horizon.  Like childhood itself.

Maybe this is why I savor this time with the kids--the parties, the stories, the make-believe games.  Right now, they can't fathom a time when we won't have these. 

But I know that fireflies climb up the inside of Bosco jars and take flight. Their lights grow gradually fainter as they fly further away.  You get to have them for only a little while. 


Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Wristband

I am not too old to squeeze an impressive amount of value out of a carnival wristband.  This is the truth I learned this week when our State Fair returned to my hometown for its annual August visit and the kids came for their traditional opening-day trip there.

One of the pleasures of being Googie is that I get to buy the kids, during the week before the Fair arrives, a discount wristband at our local Walgreen's.  This little strip of paper adornment entitles them to unlimited rides for the duration of our adventure on the carnival midway.

Last summer I bought the bands for only Sooby and Pooh, since Bootsie, not yet two, was still too little to know all the fun she was missing.  But the problem was that Pooh fell a little short of the 36" height requirement for many of the rides that Sooby was more than tall enough for.  So I spent my midway time putting one on a ride, then the other, then returning to pick up first one and then the other in an intricately choreographed dance that kept me hopping all afternoon as I tried fervently not to lose a kid. 

This year, with the kids 6, 4 1/2, and almost 3, I could see that we would need a total of four wristbands.  To maximize the ride experience, it was clear that we would need an adult to accompany Bootsie, and often Pooh, on some of the rides where their little blonde heads backed up against the measuring sign and came up short.

So it was I who occupied the "swing" position when an adult was needed, sometimes with Bootsie and other times with both her and Pooh. As a result, I did five stints standing beside Bootsie's carousel horse and scrunched my long legs into more little trains and cars than I could count. 

As the afternoon wore on, it became apparent that Sooby was casting a wishful eye at many of the more daredevil-type rides that only she met the height requirement for.  So there came the moment of parting when Pooh and Bootsie went off with their parents while Sooby and I spent the rest of the evening getting my money's worth--and more than I bargained for--out of my wristband investment.

In analyzing my evening's experiences, I have carefully identified several desirable changes in my behavior and record them here for next year's reference under the heading "Notes to Self":
  • Do not go into the house of mirrors.  The only way out is a two-story corkscrew slide that is not conducive to your body size and shape.  You should have noticed this before you went in instead of worrying about a claustrophobia attack.  The scab on your elbow serves as a reminder of your folly, and the way that man laughed at you explains a similar scab on your ego.  Let Sooby go alone all sixteen times next year.  She doesn't need you anyway. 
  • Do not ride in a bumper car with Sooby driving.  She nearly killed you more than once.  This is why even now, three days later, every bone in your body still throbs, and your neck and back still smart with whiplash.  Remember that when the announcer says, "Push down on the pedal and turn the wheel," Sooby does this with a motion that can be described only as "sudden" and "drastic."  Your old body was not made to spin in tight circles while being slammed into from every direction.  Use some common sense, and send the kid in alone.
  • Listen when the announcer says to take nothing with you on the white water log ride.   Remember how you had to hide your billfold down the back of your pants and stuff the candy apple under your T-shirt?  Sucking your gut in to hide the apple from the ride attendants does not optimize your comfort just before experiencing two drenching, death-defying plunges.  Next time, it would be better to leave all your stuff with a total stranger.  If that person decides to make off with all your personal belongings, you will still come out ahead.    
Next year, I resolve to be more generous.  Maybe I will give the extra wristband, if we still need one, to the kids' mama.  Wait a minute--what am I saying?  Next year, Zoomba will throw a barely-two-year-old into the mix. 

Make that five wristbands at $18.95 each.  That may sound like a lot of money, but, I assure you, this year's purchase was a bargain. 

It was priceless to hear Sooby cackle non-stop as she tried to maneuver our bumper car and to hear Pooh's exclamations, from the top of the ferris wheel, that the people and other objects on the ground looked "like toys."

Oh heck--give me the extra wristband.  Scabs heal with time, and candy apples do survive.