Real Life, Unedited

//Real Life, Unedited

Real Life, Unedited

“Do you remember when you lived in that cage?” says granddaughter Naomi, who turns four just before Hallowe’en.

Hmmm. “That condo you mean?” I say.

“Yeah,” she says. “And we drove down into that cave?”

I called the parking garage the “bat cave”. “Yes. Where we looked for the monkeys?” Because kids bring out the kid in you – me, anyway – I make monkey sounds: “Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh.”

“I didn’t like that,” Naomi says. “That scares me.”

“It’s okay Nomes,” says her sister, Simone, five. “Monkeys aren’t scary.”

We’ve arrived at my little house in Old North and I see that Naomi is rubbing her nose. “Hey,” I say. “I don’t live on Pick-your-nose Street anymore, so don’t go picking your nose!” That condo was on Picton Street.

Because they’re still young enough to think I’m funny – unlike my children – the girls laugh. Once inside, shoes, coats, sweaters are thrown aside. Back packs are peeled open to reveal the treasures of the school day – Naomi’s many abstract paintings and Simone’s interesting drawing of a house, roughly in the shape of a mushroom.

“I’m hungry,” they both say in unison and I plunk their favourite snack on their Frozen table – rice crackers and raisins, but I note as I unpack their lunch boxes that they seem to be tiring of the raisins. Simone’s snack is in a plastic bowl that’s pink – her favourite colour – and Naomi’s is in one that’s purple, because ever since she could form words her older sister has told her purple is her favourite colour. Why? Pink was taken, of course.

We sprawl in the back room on the little pullout bed that Simone has claimed, meaning Naomi will have to sleep in the bigger, higher queen in the spare room. We’re going to play a new game because I heard it was age-appropriate for them: Trouble. Because they’re into potty humour and they have a game called Toilet Trouble, they keep calling it “Toilet Trouble, he he!” and I keep correcting them. I get the green pegs.

“Because it’s your favourite colour, right Gia?” says Simone. “And it’s Papa’s favourite colour too.” He’s a Green Bay Packers fan. A couple of weeks ago when they played the Vikings the girls teased him by chanting, “Go purple! Go purple! Go purple!” They do like purple more than green. And with quarterback Aaron Rodgers out with a broken collarbone, the Vikings were killing the Packers.

Naomi gets the yellow pegs because once she got old enough to realize she had a choice, she decided she liked yellow. And she’s a sunny kid, so it suits her. Simone is red because it’s the closest thing to pink.

“Okay,” I say, “the youngest goes first. So Naomi, it’s your turn.” I’m impressed that Simone is okay with this. It’s tricky, though, getting them to understand about who’s turn is next. And popping that dice in the middle without annihilating the whole board? Trickier. Counting out how many spaces to move? Almost impossible, but we keep at it. The notion of leaving “start”, sabotaging others by landing on them and moving them back, and getting all four pegs to the “finish” to win doesn’t really make a lot of sense to them yet. Popping that Pop-O-Matic? Priceless.

We put Trouble away and move on to Monster Match – a deck of cards with cute monsters that match. Naomi and I quickly accept that we are no match for Simone. Whether we put the cards in a messy pile or place them in a neat grid pattern, she’s got us so beat that she feels sorry for us, gives up several of her own pairs – not too many! – so that we’re not completely whupped.


Because my kids are so old – all in their 30s now, for godsakes – there are things I’ve forgotten. Like how leaving the house takes forever. Heading to school, Day One:

Simone: I wanna ride the scooter to school!
Naomi, heaped on the floor in the front hall in a ball, crying: Not fair!
(There’s only one scooter.)
Me: Okay guys, let’s just take the stroller.
Simone, jumping for her puffy pink coat on the hall rack, almost pulling the rack down: I wanna wear my new coat.
Me: No babe. It’s going to be too warm. Let’s wear this light jacket.
Simone, heaped on the floor in the front hall in a ball, crying: No! I wanna wear my new coat!
I ignore both of them, gather up back packs.
Me, changing the subject: How about we put our shoes on?
Naomi, playing with her new purple rain-boots, holding them up beside Simone’s: See? Mine are bigger than Simone’s.
Me: Shoes guys.
Because they’re almost the same size, Simone thinks it’s a great idea to put on one of her shoes and one of Naomi’s. Gigging, Naomi does the same. I help Naomi on with her jacket, but when I try to put Simone’s on, she refuses.
Simone: No! Too cold. Sweater. I need a sweater.
I run around the house and find a pink sweater, which, gratefully, she allows me to help her put on. We slide her light jacket over it and we’re off!
Simone, the time police (she gets this from her mother), settled in the stroller: We’re going to be late.

Bedtime? Takes forever. Five more minutes in the bath is ten, then 15. They get out when most of the water is splashed out. Then there’s the pj decision, the “bednight” snack, the quiet time in a sleeping bag in front of the TV. Choose the show wisely! Ones that promote movement, like YouTube videos of Dancing With The Stars, Disney edition? In no time, they’re dancing around the room, ballet arms flinging, then, for some reason, they’re discussing “poopy pants” and collapsing on the floor in a fit of giggles.

I say, “guys, guys”, a couple of times, but because I just revisited this technical term while re-reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, I’m giggling to myself. From the chapter on Shitty First Drafts:

“You just let this childlike part of you channel whatever voices and visions come through and onto the page. If one of the characters wants to say, ‘Well, so what, Mr. Poopy Pants?’, you let her. No one is going to see it.”

So, Mr. or Ms. Poopy Pants. Want to live life unedited, like a shitty first draft? Hang out with a couple of little kooks for a few days.



One Comment

  1. Hilary October 26, 2017 at 6:05 pm - Reply

    Lovely to slow down and enjoy the little details of life -that’s what kids are good for!
    I miss the baby stage- having a puppy brings back some of the delay stuff 😉
    Can’t wait for grand-kids! ;))

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