March 14, 2008  
Retirement – Grandchildren Part 2/2

“Gamma, Papa stuck a tongue at me, look” shouted our granddaughter Belinda. She was three years old at the time and was in a time-out situation.

She had yelled “No” and stuck her tongue out at me when I asked her to clean up her blocks. Grandma Arlene saw this happen and immediately asked her to apologize. Belinda responded, “I’m going home and I’m telling my daddy.” Arlene said, “You’re going on the wall for a time out, until you apologize to Papa.” The 3 year old, sat on the kitchen counter pouting and being stubborn with Grandma near her for safety. I was standing behind Arlene and decided to stick my tongue out at Belinda and that triggered the response, “Papa stuck a tongue.” I did it a few times before Arlene caught on, “What the heck are you doing?” she asked. “Are you undermining my correction?” Her eyes were filled with anger and her voice became raspy, “Go away, before I put YOU on the wall.” Belinda yelled, “Papa on wall”. I realized it was a good time to exit. This brings me to one of the best parts of retirement-- more play time with grandchildren.

We have three grandchildren, Belinda, Lexi and Kayla, eleven, nine and seven now, and I’ve been privileged to use my life minutes playing with them. We dance from room to room, sing, put on shows, play games, go to movies, read, and I love when they get to sleep over. Arlene, the children, and I, laugh a lot. We were privileged to baby sit for Belinda for 4 years from age 2 to 6. Her mom, who had gotten divorced from our son, now went off to work and we often became the baby sitters during the daytime hours.

It’s amazing the games that children can create. I was sitting at my computer recently and Belinda handed me money which Lexi and Kayla had created. They were sitting at Arlene’s desk and I heard the adding machine being used and scotch tape dispenser being pulled. Someone was using scissors and cutting paper; there was much ado and they were whispering to each other. “What’s this money for?” I asked. I was informed that it’s to pay for membership in their club. “What does the club do,” I asked. In unison I was advised that it’s a money club. “Do you save money? What do you do with the money and what does this club do?” I was informed that it was a club that met in the closet, under the stairs, and they had lots of meetings and played games but it cost money to join, that’s why they were printing their own. I noticed Kayla heading towards Arlene and giving her money for membership. They were sealing off the doorways with long strips of papers taped together to keep out non-members. I chuckled as they began adding up the day’s receipts. “Looks like the club business is a good business,” I said. “You’re so silly papa, this is not a business this is a club” Ah, little things to laugh about.

Don’t Give Them Money

Lewis, our son lectures me “Dad, don’t give them money and buy them things; you’re spoiling them”. I’m spoiling them, spoiling for whom? “For us, he said, “We like to control what they receive.” In that case, receive this, I bring my thumb up to my nose and wiggle my fingers. He sounds just like me when I brought our children to our parent’s home.

I enjoy giving them money and then taking them shopping to the dollar stores. Sometimes they don’t spend it all but bring their money home to save, if there was nothing they wanted at the store. Whenever we visit with Lexi she tells us how much she’s saved at home, as soon as she comes in the door.

Solution at Hand

We live in a golf course community and many golf balls find their way to our backyard, which faces the golf course. “Go to the backyard and pick up golf balls that golfers lose and I’ll give you a dollar for each ball”, I said. Excitedly they scurry off on this hunt and return five minutes later with golf balls. After paying for the find, I put the balls in the laundry room, in a box, and keep count. I know that when there are a dozen I’ll give them to friends that golf. The girls know they can earn money this way; a win-win situation.

There was this one time when Belinda and Kayla went outside and returned quickly with their heads bowed talking earnestly. Kayla headed for the restroom and Belinda to the laundry room. They decided to return to the backyard and returned with four golf balls. “Papa, two dollars each” they sang. I took the balls into the laundry room and while laying them in the box I noticed that four balls were missing from the batch. Ah ha, my little monkeys created a diversion and grabbed the 4 balls from my stash; not a bad plan, but they’re dealing with the silver fox. I turned to Kayla and said “Papa knows how many golf balls he has and Papa knows that you stole four”. Kayla immediately started shaking her head yes and then cried. Belinda denied the charge but then very quickly recanted and admitted her guilt explaining “We couldn’t find any golf balls and didn’t think you’d give us money”, hmm excellent deduction. They listened as I explained why stealing was an improper way to earn money and they’d have to be punished. They begged me not to tell their parents. I agreed not to and told them that I loved them and would always be there for them providing they were honest with me. They still needed to pay for their crime which meant vacuuming and dusting. Girls have a way to make this punishment into a game and it didn’t take long before they seemed to enjoy cleaning.

Daddy Lew came to pick his girls up and stood at the doorway as the girls walked towards him. “Wait”, I shouted, “I’m thinking of a number between 1 and 10. Can anyone guess it?” Of course any number they guess will always be the correct number. Belinda yelled out “Four”. “Correct”, I said and handed her a dollar. “Kayla, what number am I thinking?” Not to be beaten she said “six”, “Right again” I responded as I handed her a dollar. I looked at Lew and watched his face turn red. “Pops, how many times have I asked you not to just give them money?” he said. “Lewis, I would never just give them money they won it fair and square”, he looked at me shaking his head. “Lewis, I’m thinking of a number between 1 and 10, what is it?” “Dad, Dad, please don’t” “Lew, what is it, guess, come on and see how easy it is.” “Three” he said. “You see it’s not that easy, the number is eight”. Lew smiled as he walked bock to the car, “I’ll bring them back in the morning. Arlene and I spent the evening talking about what we were going to all do the next day.

Three Days With Belinda

Lew had three more days to go before his vacation started so he asked if Belinda could holiday with us for three days. What a silly question from a grown man. Of course, we’re retired, and ready for fun. Belinda, his daughter from his first wife, spends a month with him and his family during the summer.

We woke up early and headed over to the Michael’s craft store to pick up projects to do. Belinda chose paint by number painting set, extra paint, a hat for appliqués, beads, string, a coloring book and a few other odds and ends.

We returned home and as we entered the house Belinda was ready to start a project. Arlene placed a poly table cloth on the dining room; the stage was set for fun with paints. Belinda began with paint by numbers and very quickly decided that her choice of color was more creative than those chosen by the manufacturer. I sat on the back porch when I saw her head pop out the door opening, “Papa, what’s next?”

I remembered purchasing a 4’x4’ canvas and telling Arlene that she’d know I was retired when she saw me painting. It was 10 years since I made that statement and I hadn’t picked up a brush. I brought the canvas out from the garage, set it up on the table, and told Belinda to have fun painting. Somehow, I thought this would take most of the day. Fifteen minutes later she was shlepping the canvas outside. “Papa, I painted this, isn’t it beautiful?” In front of me was a mish mash of colors all mixed together with hand and foot prints. She was covered with paint and looked like a walking canvas. “It’s beautiful, tataleh and so are you, what a wonderful painting.” “Yes Papa, and I’m a very fast painter too.” We spent the rest of the day cleaning up, talking about painting, playing Old Maid, Snakes and Ladders, Sorry, and War. When Lewis arrived to take Belinda home we showed him her creation. “Where are you hanging it, Pops?” “Lew, we thought it would look stately in your home”, we responded. I laughed as I helped him put it in the back of the car…”Thanks Dad, this is wonderful,” he said, wearing a pickle puss.

For me there’s nothing more enjoyable and rewarding then spending time with grandchildren. To play together with the next generation, influencing them in some ways and at the same time being influenced, is one of life’s pleasures

Beware the ides of March, eat Kosher, plant something and watch it grow.

Till next month Happy Purim and Shalom, Mel the fat guy.

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