Friday, June 30, 2017

The Number 10

There is something about the number 10 that commands attention: "Ten Little Indians," Ten Commandments, ten bowling pins, "ten little monkeys jumping on the bed."

By the time an institution or a relationship gets to that magical number, it is usually time to celebrate. The tenth wedding anniversary. The tenth class reunion. A business surviving ten years often calls for a major customer appreciation event with free hot dogs and door prize drawings.

We rate things from 1 to 10, with 10 usually representing the most or the best. Remember Bo Derek from the 1979 movie 10? On a less pleasant note, if your pain nears 10, you probably need medical attention.  Across centuries and cultures too numerous to count, the number 10 has represented completion or perfection.

Today, I celebrate the number 10 because it is Sooby's tenth birthday.

All the grandkids' birthdays are important, but this one is a special milestone. It was on June 30, 2007, that I first became "Googie." A short six years later, Sooby had three siblings and two cousins, bringing the grandkid tally to six and insuring that the glass doors to my back deck would be covered with precious little hand-prints for perpetuity.

I got to wish Sooby happy birthday on the phone tonight as I sat in my living room here in the Midwest and she and her family crossed the state line from Pennsylvania to New York. Tomorrow she will have a belated birthday party in New Hampshire with another set of grandparents that don't get to see her as often as Pa-pa and I do.

Happy tenth birthday to you, Sooby-girl. Tonight you may be on the road literally, but figuratively you are on your way to so many new, different experiences that come with fifth grade and 'tweendom. As the oldest grandchild, you are our trendsetter, our explorer, our example for the other kids. You alone started this decade of utter delight and utmost blessing.

On this, the 3,655th day of your life, Pa-pa and I wish you the very best and look forward to the week you will spend with us soon after you get back home. I can hardly wait.

We will swim, eat lasagne, go to Kids' College, and make homemade ice cream. I'm thinking that, as weeks go, it should rate pretty high. Yeah, that song has a good beat, it's easy to dance to . . . I'm giving it a 10.


Sunday, June 25, 2017

A Birthday Wish from Hoppy and Bob


I knew by Zoomie's tone that this was going to be a serious question--one of many he asked while he was staying with me last week.

"Why is your arm loose?"

With no small concern, I ran a quick check on my left arm from shoulder to wrist. When all appeared to be in order and no dismemberment seemed imminent, I breathed a sigh of relief. That's when an inquisitive little hand reached out to wiggle-pinch that flap of skin on the underside of my upper arm. Yes, Zoomie had discovered that bane of existence plaguing every woman with an AARP card.

"It's not exactly loose," I reassured him. "It's just--kind of--soft, I guess."

Instantly my mind traveled to the iconic Lake Wobegon, home of writer Garrison Keillor and his elementary teacher, who demonstrated this same anatomical anomaly when writing on the chalkboard. Who could forget that scene where a classroom of little north country smart-alecks in the '50s immortalized the arm flaps of their teacher by naming them "Bob" and "Hoppy"?

Shuddering, I changed the subject before the creative side of Zoomie's brain kicked in and he began to contemplate names of his own. Knowing him as I do, and aware of the preoccupations of four-year-old boys, I figured any names he would come up with would reflect rather crude body parts or functions.

"Just think," I said. "It's only a few more days until your birthday." I was thankful for the direction our conversation took from there as he tried to guess what Pa-pa and I had gotten him for a present.

Today is the birthday of the sweet little guy who entered the world five years ago today looking like this:

Now, like his cousin Beenie, he is ready to enter kindergarten in the fall. It is hard to believe how he has grown and changed:

Happy birthday to you, Zoomie. What a joy to have spent with you the last glorious week you were four. It will be fun to hear your take on the new worlds that kindergarten will open for you. I know you will love it, and your natural curiosity and desire to learn will take you far.

One suggestion, though. Should your teacher turn her back and write on the board, it might be prudent not to ask her questions that involve flaps or jiggles. Just keep your focus on those letters and numbers, and you will sail through your first school year like a rock star.

Good night now, sweet boy. Bob, Hoppy, and I have had a busy week, thanks to you, and we are ready to call it a day. May your dreams be filled with cakes, candles, and presents, and may these first days of being five years old be your best ever!