The Grandma On The Slide

Samuel beach pic.jpgI had no idea how much fun I’d have being a grandma, even though it’s challenged me in a few areas.

To begin with, I’m not a sporty person. And that’s an understatement. I was the poster child for kids who get picked last for every playground game. I passed my required college swimming class by a very thin hair, and haven’t been in the water since. I make myself do aerobics and strength training, but I can’t hit, throw or catch. Nevertheless, I’ve spent more time running, kicking, throwing and catching in the last year or so than I have in my entire life. Why? Because I have a sporty two-year-old grandson, and I’ve willingly entered his world.

The minute he’s dropped off at my house the sports begin. “Boo!” he commands. This activity involves him hiding in the space between the couch and the ottoman, while I pop up at random times yelling, “Boo!” I do it for the belly laughs from him, which are priceless. My strategy skills are put to the test – should I pop up from the side or straight over the top? How can I create suspense? At what point do I add the Tickle Bug? This is quite a workout, but it’s just the warmup.

Next we hit the back yard for the toddler triathlon – the mini basketball is stuffed through the pint-sized hoop setup, then kicked back and forth, then whomped with his plastic bat. There’s a lot of hopping and jumping between events. I’m the cheerleader/ball grandma/catcher.

After awhile we head out to the park. The toddler playground is rejected. The equipment for older kids is much more interesting and challenging, and provides many more heart-stopping moments for Grandma as she tries to keep him from killing himself. We’re faced with high ledges and no barriers to prevent a fall to the ground, monkey bars too far apart for a two-year-old to manage by himself, and tall slides. Slides that look really great to a two-year-old until it’s time to actually go down one.

This is where I’m pressed into service, either to take him down the slide on my lap, or to assure him that if he goes first, I’ll be right behind him. I know the best slides in town, the ones that you rocket down and land with a thump. I know which slides to avoid, the ones constructed of some odd material that makes you inch down in spurts and stops. Playground safety carried too far.

As a woman my age, I have to admit that I feel pretty goofy climbing around on playground equipment meant for people under the age of twelve, especially when the young mothers of other children have parked themselves on benches. Do they think I’m a weird old lady? Overprotective? I do know I’m having a lot more fun than they are.

My grandson and I have regular conversations about poop, which is really more of an intellectual exercise. It was his idea, and first came up when he started becoming aware of his bodily processes. Also, it guarantees everyone’s attention. Anything brown and nugget-like is suspect. His mother reports that one morning he found a lump of brown sugar in his oatmeal, declared it poop, and refused to eat it. When I took him next door to visit my neighbor’s chickens, he swiftly reached town and scooped up a fresh chicken dropping. “Poop!” he announced, while my neighbor and I scrambled for soap and washcloth. For the rest of the day the entire scenario was relived several times, with him holding out his hand and saying you-know-what, and me saying, “You’re not going to do that next time, right?”

These are precious moments. Someday soon the games of “Boo!” will be over. Our conversations will become even more intellectual (I hope). And this little guy will outpace, out kick and outrun me. He’ll move on to real sports. I have no doubt that I – the woman who would rather watch paint dry than watch people run around a field for hours – will be at every game possible, cheering on my little slugger/kicker/runner. Because I’m his grandma.

Until then, I’ll be the grandma on the slide, and loving it.

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