Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Mother's Day Cover-up

It was with an unmistakable sense of purpose that Sooby entered the house Friday night clutching a small pink gift bag. "Quick!" she said before her mama and the other kids scrambled out of the van laden with the paraphernalia required for a weekend stay. "We can't let Mom see this! It's her Mother's Day present!"

Just like that, I was involved in a conspiracy. At school that day, with the help of her second-grade teacher, she had collected a nice laminated bookmark, an original handwritten "Mom" tribute, a cellophane tube of instant coffee, and a handful of Dove chocolates. She was determined to keep the gift a surprise until today, but she was clearly worried.

"I don't know where to put this," she said, "and I'm afraid the chocolate will melt!"

"Go put the bag under your bed," I said, "and I'll put the chocolates in the fridge." We worked fast. We have been partners in crime before.

Fast-forward to this morning. Sooby is up early, ready to reassemble her gift so that it would be ready when Mama woke up. "Go down and put the candy back in," she instructs, handing me the sack, whereupon I descend the steps at my furtive best.

Good, I think, as I notice daughter Cookie still asleep on the house's lowest level. Stealthily, I open the "secret" drawer of the fridge and prepare to confiscate the candy.

One miserable Dove stares back at me. The rest of the candy has gone AWOL. Suddenly, I find myself on the middle floor of a tri-level house with a crisis on my hands. (I know it looked like a pink bag, but I guarantee you it was a crisis.)

Hearing Cookie stirring around a bit, I waste no time. I am about to be a turncoat and leak major sensitive information. "Did you eat the candy in the bottom drawer of the fridge?" I demand. There is no time for "Good morning."

"Yes," she readily confesses in a "So what?" kind of  tone.

Fifteen seconds later she understood the crisis proportions of the situation and we had a plan in place. I would staple the top of the sack so that Sooby couldn't peek inside to see that we were short a few Doves. Cookie would open the bag at a safe distance, exclaim appropriately over each item, and leave the candy until last.

My daughter was in some theatre performances in high school and college, but I never saw a performance to equal this one. She pulled off the cover-up expertly, identifying, as she looked into the bag, all the flavors of the candy she had eaten the night before. She was brilliant. Sooby was proud. I was a nervous wreck.

All's well that ends well, as they say, and one day Cookie and I will share "the rest of the story" with Sooby in our finest Paul Harvey fashion. Meanwhile, I think I had better contemplate better hiding places for contraband in the event that people I love have secrets to hide and an insatiable appetite for chocolate.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Googie's Victory Lap

Put me on the platform and hang a medal around my neck. Winners of Olympic gold could not feel a bigger sense of accomplishment than I do this week.

No, I did not make a hole in one, stay on a bull for eight seconds, hit a grand slam, or make an unassisted triple play. I did not swish a basket from half court to win the game at the buzzer. I did not pitch a no-hitter or score a hat trick or perform a piano concert at Carnegie Hall.

What I did this week was greater than all of these things combined. I can finally say that I accomplished something I have been striving to do for a year and a half: I made friends with my youngest grandson.

Little Heero, my new friend, has been anything but easy to win over. Nothing in my bag of Googie tricks, so flawless with the other five grandkids, made the slightest impression on Heero. My collection of toys and my repertoire of songs scored one giant goose egg.

Until recently he didn't even want me to hold him, and I rarely got the faintest suggestion of a smile. In Heero's book, I was clearly persona non grata, and it broke my heart. It is an understatement to say that Googie does not handle rejection well.

But slowly, over the past several months, there have been sporadic--but nevertheless definite--signs of hope. About a week ago, when I picked up his brother Beenie from daycare for a little extra Googie time, Heero actually came running to me with his arms out, then went to get his shoes as though he were coming too.

Then, day before yesterday, the boys' day care had to close for illness and Googie was commandeered into back-up mode. I arrived at the battlefield and braced myself for the usual resistance from my reluctant little soldier. It didn't happen. I know it is probably not wise to do cartwheels at my age, but I considered trying.

Beenie, Heero, and I had an absolutely beautiful day of doing ordinary little boy things. There was not one tear anywhere all day long (except for the time Heero conked his brother on the head with a wooden mallet--hey, it happens).

And although I still don't expect to be able to compete when Heero and I are in the same room with his mama, I am content with the knowledge that some bonding has, at long last, occurred, and Heero, in his own way and in his own time, will love me after all.

Prepare yourself, little Heero. We have some lost time to make up for, and that will be one of my Number 1 priorities for the summer. Next time I come to day care, I will make sure I have enough car seats and pick you up too, if you want to come.

You made a good down payment this week, but you still owe me some snuggles and some serious lap time. We have books to read and songs to sing. In case you are my last grandchild, I need to do a little extra spoiling. I need to do that even if you are not. It's going to be fun, little Heero. Now, more of the treasures in "Googie's Attic" will belong just to you.

On second thought, bring on those laurels. Maybe I will climb to that stage and accept that medal after all.