This Memory Will Stick

During the early years of our marriage, Dad was more of a NY Yankees fan than a follower of any other sport. It was not until Kelly went off to college that viewing college football games became a regular activity in our family.

For Dad, playing and watching golf is now his primary interest—so much so that his telephone has labeled his trip between our house and the golf course as “work.” It is therefore a great source of excitement to him as he observes the growing interest in golf with his first grandchild.

It began a few years ago as grandfather and grandson would stand at the edge of our backyard to watch the golfers head toward the green on the course behind our house. Next, we watched father and son at another golf course—father hitting the ball as his little boy sat patiently behind him, anxious to chase the ball once it left the tee.

On his fifth birthday, Bryce was presented with his own set of clubs and is eager to learn the sport. A few weeks ago, he excitedly told us his big news, which was that he was going to The Masters—one of golf’s most famous tournaments—with his father, other grandfather, and uncle.

Yesterday was the big day. The plan was to allow him to attend for just a few hours because it was believed he would not have the stamina or attentiveness to stay the entire day. That assumption was incorrect, because he told Dad and me later that he was sad that he did not get to see more holes. He enthusiastically showed us the card which he got at the tournament and explained that he planned on taking it to school for Show-and-Tell.

Dad, Kelly, and I agreed that because Bryce is five years old, he is old enough that he will be able to look back on this day as an adult. Five-year-old memories do not disappear as two-year-old memories do. When he is a father, he will be able to tell his children the story of his first trip to The Masters, including the fact that he was the youngest attendee that day. Oh, what a memory!


I Could Have Poisoned My Family

Today is the era of meth labs like the one built by Walter White in “Breaking Bad” and terrorists creating bombs to hide in their shoes and underwear. In such a world, I cannot imagine that the chemistry sets that Dad and I played with as children would be permitted to be sold to the future scientists of today.

I remember experimenting with my beakers and chemicals in my grandmother’s kitchen, which at least showed some concern for safety because it kept me away from my four younger siblings. My research into those labs from the good old days showed that those kits most likely did contain small quantities of chemicals that could have caused a certain level of harm.

With a little knowledge, I probably could have blown up my grandma’s kitchen or poisoned my brothers and sisters. I think that Grandpa just hoped that gift would have encouraged me to walk in his footsteps. He did not see the potential for evil.

The advent of consumer safety laws and more skeptical and distrustful parents ended the market for those toys. Oh, those were the days, my friends.


Birthday Kid Picks the Meal

There are definitely pros and cons to having children with adventurous eating habits. As a parent to three children who did not fear exotic food such as escargot, I never worried when dining out about whether there would be a children’s menu.  Often the children’s menu was ignored, but the downside to that were higher bills at the end of the meal.

History is repeating itself via the next generation in our family. What does a five-year old boy want for his birthday lunch and dinner? Mac and cheese, hotdogs, or spaghetti are typical requests of little men, but not our boy. He requested sushi for lunch and mussels for dinner.

Remember what Dad taught you all. When you turn five, you become a human being. I guess that means your eating habits may become more sophisticated.

The sushi he chose was much more daring than the California or shrimp tempura roll which is what I usually order. Rather, the choice for birthday #5 was spicy salmon and spicy shrimp. And may I add that the mussels requested were not in some kind of red sauce such as one might see in your local Italian restaurant. Instead, what he wanted was a recipe recently prepared by his dad: Red Curry Mussels.

Impressive, right? I have the recipe and will include it in our family cookbook. I look forward to more birthday requests.

A Birthday and No Friends?

We celebrated another family birthday this past weekend. It was held at a cute little place called “My Gym,” which reminded me of your days of gymnastics lessons at the YMCA.

As we all know, little children and the elderly do not have filters on their mouths, so Bryce made the comment that “Lily does not have any friends.” While that is true compared to the amount of friends that a child who has attended school for three years now has, it was not particularly complimentary.

I decided to check out your baby books to see if you all had friends at the tender young age of two. As the oldest child, Kelly was the only one who truly had friends that were not related. They were the three little girls from the playgroup which she attended beginning shortly after her first birthday. That particular year she had three parties. The first was with her neighborhood friends, the second was with her aunts, uncles, and the only cousin she had at the time, and the third was with her playgroup friends.

Jamie had two parties. The first was with her playdate friends, all of whom were the children of my cousins. We had lunch and cupcakes. Like Lily, Jamie was a fan of Minnie Mouse, which was exemplified by some of the gifts—a Minnie Mouse bank, Minnie Mouse Colorforms and a Minnie Mouse train.

Casey, sorry to say, you had only one party, which was with your sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins. I suspect that as the youngest of three girls, you primarily played with your older sisters. I made a Dalmatian cake, and you received a Dalmatian puppy, a desk from Dad and me, a Ninja Turtle mug,  a Magic Nursery doll, and an Ariel outfit, doll and puzzle. The Little Mermaid gifts should not be surprising since you have reminded me on numerous occasions that the movie was released on the day you were born.

So Lily, when you grow up and read the account of your second birthday and hear what your brother said about having no friends, Aunt Casey and you can commiserate over a glass of wine.

The End of Innocence

At what age do children begin to lose their sweet innocence? As a grandmother, I have more time to observe than when I was a frazzled young mother of three, and I have concluded that it happens at some point during the fourth year.

Over the past few months, while enjoying many spirited afternoons sitting around the kitchen table playing Candy Land, I observed Bryce clearly cheating. One time the little trickster claimed ignorance when skipping ahead a few extra squares. “I didn’t know I skipped one yellow square.” Another time, I caught him not-so-slyly peaking at the cards while attempting to find the ice cream cone, which would put him near the finish line.

He knew what he was doing was wrong and was even familiar with the word “cheating.” I wanted to throw the book at him and vowed not to let to him win. This was war!

After returning him home today after his latest sleepover, Kelly showed us a broken ornament. Lily was the culprit, but at not yet two, I think she broke poor Cocky’s leg while trying to admire him. It was not intentional. Kelly told Dad and me that she had told Bryce that Bampa could fix it. Bryce had another solution.  “We should hide it from Daddy!”

Gone is the age of innocence.

Under Repair

The Entertainers

You come from a long line of entertainers. There was my grandmother’s great uncle Jack Blue, who was quite a famous dance instructor during the 30’s. He taught celebrities such as Katharine Hepburn, Bing Crosby, and Buddy Ebsen. Although I know those are probably unfamiliar names to all of you, trust me, those three were all very famous.

Several other members of our family entertained locally—including Grandma and Aunt Marian who loved to dance in church shows and at the local VA hospital.

So when the three of you were young, it was not surprising to watch you follow in their footsteps as you sang and danced to the tunes of The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast.

Now we have a new generation to follow, and today Bryce gave his first performance at his “My Gym” camp. I have seen him perform his routine at home, but I was quite impressed to hear that he volunteered to do so for his new friends on the first day with them.

Apparently he is a fan of the movie Sing, and he absolutely loves to sing and play his little piano to the Elton John song “I’m Still Standing.” He especially likes to do a glissando.  That’s when you slide your fingers from the bottom to the to on the piano.

I am sorry I was not a fly on the wall of that gym because I hear that the instructor found the song and flashed the lights while he performed. I can’t wait for Lily to join his dance troupe.


The Catalog is Dead

Years ago, there were three things which announced the onset of the Christmas season: Decorations in stores, holiday music on the radio and television, and the arrival of the JC Penney Christmas catalog. Before the visit to Santa, each of you had assembled your list so you knew just what to tell the jolly old elf to bring you on Christmas Eve.

Now technology, and probably the economics of printing and mailing the catalogs, has made these highly-anticipated mailings another relic of the past. I sent a tweet to Ask JCPenney (@askjcp), where I was told, “We no longer issue the large paper catalogs.” I was then directed to their website.

How sad! No longer can our children peruse the “Big Book” and circle all the items which strike their fancy. I pointed out, in my return tweet, that “not all young children can sit at a computer and do this. Not all progress is good.”

How do the children born in an era without that infamous catalog create their Santa wish lists?