It’s hard to believe that the Grandpea is now two. She’s smart and funny and beautiful, and I’m not just saying that because she’s my first, only and favorite grandchild. Babies are magic– toddlers are magic and mayhem. When the Pea and I see each other, she laughs and wiggles with excitement (so do I, but it’s not as cute). “Mimi!!” She claps her hands and hugs my neck and plants one on me. Can you imagine a better greeting?
She wobbles over the threshold and happily destroys my house, giving me a refresher course on toddler terrorism. She’s a 25-pound wrecking ball. She orders Theo the Wonderdog® around, because he’s one of the few living beings in our condo that’s smaller than she is, including houseplants. She assumes a deep and commanding boss-the-dog voice. “No Theo, NO!!!!!” Theo just sits there looking puzzled, because he’s simply been lying around doing nothing.
The Pea is joy and mischief, innocence and destruction. She kisses and hugs and ruins our rugs. She’s one of the happiest people I know. She also throws temper tantrums better than anyone I know, but she calms down easily and we move on to other matters. Toddlers are so easily distracted.
I love seeing the world through her eyes. She walks Theo and laughs hysterically as he leads her around on his leash. It makes me wonder how the world appears at her eye level, because frankly, when I walk Theo, all I see is a tiny mutt who likes to pee a lot.
There’s a lot of inventory in this world, and she’s taking it all in, item by item. She’s a baby inquisitor, asking question after question about trees and paper clips, caterpillars and carpet tacks. To every answer, she says, “Oh, okay.” Example:
Grandpea: “What’s that?”
Me: “It’s a spatula. You use it to turn things over when you’re cooking, like pancakes or eggs.”
Grandpea: “Oh, okay.”
My God, that laugh! That smile! Amadeus thinks she’s swell too. Her delight in the smallest, simplest things melts our hearts. It’s hard to imagine that there was ever a time that we were fascinated by a piece of tape. She’s the sunshine in the windows, brightening our house with her presence. We’re always a little happier and a lot more exhausted when she’s here. She’s much more fun and peppy than our adult friends, and we’re unburdened of the demands of imposing parental rules and regulations. We color and sing and sit on the patio listening to birds. We play guitar and discuss politics, and I never make her eat her green beans. She loves us.
She also loves her Hello Kitty shoes, her soft, polka-dotted blanket, Elmo, orange juice and baths. Her mom allows her to chomp on ice cubes, which disturbs me. She loves her thumb, her wrinkled right thumb, which plugs up her little mouth when there aren’t ice cubes in there. I see orthodontia in her future. She loves cell phones, which she flips open with expertise. “’Allo?” she asks, very French, very sophisticated. She props the phone on her shoulder and has extremely serious discussions with non-existent callers, which lets me know that my daughter’s given her high-level training in the art of the long drawn out conversation.
The Pea has a strange, fierce obsession with singer Brad Paisley, whom she calls “Peasley.” If his fan club had a toddler division, she’d be president. I’m not quite sure how her Paisley mania started, but she knows all the lyrics to “Mud on the Tires,” and several of his other hits. It’s impressive, considering that she’s still working on the “ABC Song.” Without fail, at some point during each visit she begins chanting, “Peasley! Peasley!” I open the laptop and pull up a YouTube video or two. Or seventeen. I once played her an entire Brad Paisley “Live on Letterman” concert. She curled up in my lap, stuck her thumb in her mouth and watched her cowboy-hatted hero for a solid hour. Somehow, he comforts her.
Our favorite activity is story time. When I’m at her house, she goes to the shelf and brings me her entire library, one tome at a time. We lay in her little youth bed among her twenty thousand stuffed animals and read about Loraxes and coyotes and a boy in a boat. One night, she presented me with a new book, one that her mommy ordinarily keeps hidden. It seems to be her very favorite, and it’s become one of mine as well.
Here it is:
She wasn’t supposed to find it, but find it she did. Now that the Grandpea is at the parrot stage of childhood, the reader faces the challenge of finding substitutions for some of the words. Believe it or not, it’s a gorgeously illustrated lullabye of a book that just happens to prominently feature the word “f**k.” It also happens to be hilarious. Reading it reminds me of what my daughter’s going through these days– the exhaustion that goes hand in hand with being a working mother; the frustration of waiting for your little one to drift away to the Land O’ Nod because you’re dreaming of carving out about fifteen minutes of sweet, precious alone time before you conk out too. You’re depleted, your patience is gone, your baby’s bouncing like Jello-O on a spring, and though you’re stroking his hair and softly reading his fifth bedtime story of the night, a part of you longs to shake him like a pom pom and scream, “JUST GO THE FLOCK TO SLEEP!!!” Oh. That’s one of the words I’ve substituted. Flock.
Anyway, for your listening pleasure, here’s Samuel L. Jackson in all his thespian glory narrating “Go The F**k to Sleep.” Warning: He doesn’t substitute. I’m going to go call the Grandpea now. I just want to say, “’Allo.”