Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Oops, there goes another chunck of my heart

I decided that this summer, instead of having my favorite four-year old every Friday that I would switch off and on with his eight-year-old sister, Little Miss Freckles. LMF and I have a stormy history. Once, when she was about eighteen months old her Dad, my stepson, brought her over for a visit, and LMF was NOT amused.

She pulled her hat down over her face and refused all overtures to coax her out. Finally, exhausted from her very loud and persuasive protest, she fell asleep in the middle of the family room floor, her hat still pulled down over her eyes.

Now, I’m usually a hit with young children. I have no problem talking in funny voices, making funny faces, and in general acting the complete fool, all in an effort to raise a smile on a child’s face. Nine times out of ten it works, but not with my granddaughter.

I soon learned that if I met her on her turf, she would throw me a bone or two of acknowledgement. But get her in unfamiliar territory – read my house, the results were not stellar. So, over the years I have given her a wide berth. But she had been asking to spend some time with Grandma Terry, and I thought that this summer would be the perfect opportunity.

Of course, I was a little nervous, in the way you are nervous, when the flashing lights of a police card pull you over. Like a rolodex, your mind spins through all the possibilities, none of them good.

So I googled queries like “activities for eight year olds.” I asked others for advice, and finally panicked, I chose several items off Amazon.com (my go to place) and had them sent two day delivery, damn the expense!

Over the summer, we have played several games of Putt-Putt, tried out the cheap crochet set that I had bought (and found out why it was so cheap.) and played a few school inspired computer games. We’ve eaten lunch at a variety of eateries and once, fixing her lunch, I learned that while my hot chicken sandwiches were good, she readily assured me, the school’s were even better. Sigh.

She taught grandpa and me a new card game, she and I played hangmen (she’s quite good) and we sang some songs, and told a few stories. Only once, did I hear the dreaded words, “I’m bored,” which lasted all of two seconds until we started a game of hangman.

We discovered that the game, Guess Who, might be great to play, but it was way too much work for busy women like us. By far, her favorite activity was Klutz’s “The Fabulous Book of Paper Dolls,” by Julie Collings.

For those of you who have never heard of these paper dolls, let me tell you they are cute and imaginative. There are six different punch-out dolls, and you can make them male or female, simply by the hairstyle and clothing you choose. The clothes are two-sided and because you stick them on with two-sided reusable tape, you have a variety clothing options.

They also come with six different scenes that you can use as a backdrop to your play. Below is our birthday party/picnic scene that LMF and I created.

We decided that because we often LOVED both sides of the two-sided outfits, Grandma needed to order a second book. One Friday, LMF and I almost attacked the mailman as we waited impatiently for the second book to arrive. Thank goodness, it came that day. Note to postman, sorry if we were a little over zealous that day. (He’s probably requested hazard pay for having to deliver to my house.)

Below we used the same background to create our “Halloween Party.”

I learned many things by spending Fridays with my granddaughter. She LOOOVES chocolate milk and she, OH, MY GOSH, LOOOVES Hannah Montana. She never tired of explaining the complexities of the Hannah Montana plot line, which turned out to be a blessing since for some reason my 55-year-old brain could not keep the whole Miley/Hannah thing straight from week to week.

She has a thing for older men – don’t worry kiddo, I’m not mentioning names. She thinks the reason that Papa Al likes her so much is because she calls him, “Evil” and “Loser” (with the traditional “L” sign to the forehead.) She is thoughtful of her siblings, because when we went to the Cookie Lady, she insisted we get extra cookies to take home for them.

I knew that our relationship had taken a turn for the better when she told me one Friday, she wished it would storm really hard, so her parents wouldn’t be able to pick her up. Sometimes I wonder how I have any heart left. Too many people are walking off with big chunks of it, including a special eight-year old who spent Fridays with Grandma Terry this summer.

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