Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Dances With Iguanas
I was never so praised when I made a doo (I cannot bring myself to say doo-doo), nor do I now receive acclaim for such even though it currently takes considerably more effort than it did then. Maybe if I had been so adored I wouldn’t be the angst ridden maniacal columnist you read before you.
One would think our grandson Toddd (Yes, there are three d’s. It’s an in-law thing), who is in his terrible two’s, had just cured cancer or discovered spam for the response he gets when he fills his incredibly elastic shorts.
We give Toddd nice things--as is our responsibility as grandparents. He doesn’t know they are nice. He dunks them into the toilet along with his dominoes, his hot wheels, and his collectible Iron man action figures.
Part of his youthful indiscretion is due to his--you guessed it--youth. Very young, he. And I can almost forgive him this when he does his post potty happy dance. However, a big part of his spoil-atude is because we don’t expect him to act any differently around nicer things.
If I let him play with my cell phone after he has been flushing, chewing, or banging on his rubber cell-phony facsimile, is he going to treat my real one any better? When I have to climb into the iguana habitat at the zoo to retrieve it, who gets the blame? Is it the cute two years old lamenting the lost phone he just hucked, or the forty year old with half his shirt dangling on the concertina wire above him coaxing the head iguana with the brass knuckles to give him back his phone.
If Toddd breaks the crystal lizard from the gift shop, we promptly buy him a new one so he can break that too. Okay, I shouldn’t be buying him crystal lizards to begin with. I just remember how fascinated I was with crystal when I was young, and so I expect that he will appreciate the same things I did. Nope.
In addition to the appalling appreciation factor, I should mention casually that Toddd pukes on my nice couch, draws on my leather ottoman with a black sharpie, and randomly paints stuff that came pre-painted.
So the issue I am presenting for myself and for the world at large is: at what age should kids start appreciating excellence? That is the evolved, mature query. My real question is: at what point can I stop using duct tape and a leash while babysitting, and how do I remove colorful finger paint from my ornamental Japanese Koi?
Another matter: at what point can I stop finding his mess making charming? His parents just smile and laugh and then strap him neatly into his car seat/throne bolted into their armored car and go home. This leaves me to glue the dog’s hair back on, and to peal my special anniversary Veal Parmesan from the guest room carpet.
Grandpas are supposed to take all this in stride--at least those Grandpas who are fortunate to have pharmacologist friends. I do not. My wife just smiles, looks all misty, and says “they grow up so fast”. I would like to know what bizarre, misguided, imaginary planet she’s living on. The child has been in his terrible two’s for the last four and a half years now. Four and a half years is not "time flying fast". At this rate I will be wearing a rug and gnawing on nitroglycerin tablets when it comes time for the youngster’s quinceañera--or whatever kind of party they give for non Hispanic blond boy children when they are presented to society (which in my day was called a booking/fingerprinting).
My dad doesn’t say anything when I call him to complain. He puts himself on mute and lets me rant while he laughs his bald little head off. It is clear that no one is going to rally round or even to commiserate with me. I have been abandoned like so many floating elasto-diapers on a sea of frightened but colorful Koi.
Consequently, I am thinking of renting a hotel room for the kid’s third birthday party which I plan on celebrating in, oh, five or so more years based on the snail paced passage of time. The party will not be at my house, however. Not even in my neighborhood.
“Help yourself to the hotels omelet bar, thanks for coming, and take a piece of birthday cake with you”.
So when he cuts holes in someone else’s sheers and spray paints his name on the rented linens I can walk away like a real grandpa and call it good because the joke is on him. There are three d’s in Toddd.