Sunday, May 26, 2013

Extreme Sports

 For a couple of bucks and change, I know how to make two preschoolers deliriously happy—just buy craft kits from JoAnn’s. 

My daughter clued me in to this. Last week she spent two dollars and fourteen cents and bought herself some peace and quiet via her daughters’ craft table in the kitchen.
While Jules, the two-year-old, lavished exotic paint strokes on a little wooden birdhouse, Allie, the five-year-old, struggled to glue and stuff tiny tissue paper squares into a flat Styrofoam flower.
Before long, though, she decided six pieces of half inch tissue were enough embellishment for the piece, and found a better use for it.
Musical instrument.
If you poke a fat, plastic needle quickly in and out of Styrofoam, it makes a noise that Allie thinks sounds like talking worms.  I didn’t actually realize worms can talk. Thank goodness Allie was there to explain it to me.
“See, YaYa,” she said, “the worm pokes his head out and says ooh-eek, ooh-eek. Why don’t you try to catch him?” she finished.
Well, I tried, but I’m no early bird.  Allie was delighted, and melted into giggles.
“You have to catch him ten times,” she declared, “and then you win the game!”
Now it was a musical game.  So I tried twenty times and only caught the little bugger twice.  And even though Allie was loving the challenge, ten victories seemed pretty extreme. Finally she stopped giggling, took pity on me, and poked the plastic worm out far enough for me to grab it with fake fingernails.
“I won! I won!” I celebrated, fully in touch with my inner competitive child.
“Nope,” Allie responded, “now you have to catch him ten more times if you want to win.”
“What?!  You can’t change the rules after I win!” I countered to the little midget control freak.
She rolled her eyes, spoke distinctly, and used small words so I’d understand.
“But YaYa,” she explained, “this is the second level.
And that’s how the generation gap was invented.  By a five-year-old who beat Angry Birds before I did. 
I’m never shopping at JoAnn’s again. It’s bad for my self esteem.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Cartoon-onomics

Allie asked me how they make cartoons talk.
Did you ever have one of those out of body experiences where you try to look at life through the eyes of a five year old? You weren’t very good at it?  Me neither. It was like . . . driving a big ol’ klunker bus down the highway doing sixty and suddenly throwing it in reverse.  Stripped gears, baby. And horrible engine sounds.  Pretty sure that’s what this conversation was like to my little granddaughter.
I gave it my best shot.
Quickly I scanned through the grown-up catalog in my brain of real life ways to explain a cartoon to a kid. It was a pretty outdated catalog, but I found what I thought was a genius idea.  Quickly, I ran into our office, grabbed a pencil and a half-used pad of post-it notes, and began drawing the worst-ever jumping stick-figure flip-book in the history of cartooning.  The heads got alternately larger and smaller on each page which made it look like they were inflating and deflating for no particular reason. And while the legs were in motion, they also grew remarkably longer and shorter throughout the tiny little epic—kind of like accordion action figures.
I didn’t know if Allie understood what I was trying to show her about cartoon cells done the old-fashioned way, but when I finished and enthusiastically flipped the home-made movie for her, she politely said,
“That’s good, YaYa.  But how do they talk?”
Oh, yeah. Talking. I decided to tap into her love of Disney’s movie, Tangled.
“See, Allie,” I began, “somebody drew better pictures than these and made, like, a video of them but there were thousands and thousands of these kinds of pages with Rapunzel on them, and while they played the movie one day, a woman stood at a microphone and they recorded her voice saying all the things you hear in the movie and when they put it all together, the pictures and the recorded voices, they had Tangled. 
“So it’s a made up story that looks real, but actually it’s somebody’s voice along with pictures drawn by an artist.  See?”  I concluded.
Allie looked very serious. At first she said nothing as what I’d told her sunk in. And then she sternly corrected my feeble explanation.
“But, YaYa, Rapunzel is real.  I saw her at Disneyland.  She’s real.
And that’s when the blood all drained to my feet and they took away my grandma card.
Hmm.  Guess I drove that bus into a lake.
At least she still believes in the tooth fairy.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

This Won't Hurt A Bit . . .

So I went through some surgery yesterday. Very interesting. Today I have a fat lip from a tooth puncture and a ginormous sore spot under my left chin. Not that I have two side by side chins—I have two vertical chins. But the right side of my top chin feels fine, while the left side feels like someone hit me with an uppercut in my sleep.  Which, I’m pretty sure, is exactly what happened. And since the nurse who kept my airway open while I was snoozing was a giant Atlas-type guy, I’m blaming him. Secretly. In a blog. So he won’t hit me again.
I hesitate to mention exactly what this surgery was for. I don’t want to ruin your breakfast. Honestly, it was a pretty boring event and doesn’t really deserve blog space. Let’s just say it was outpatient girly stuff and that my husband has proven himself a saint once more.
I was pretty nervous going through it all. The thing is, I haven’t been put to sleep like that since I had my tonsils out at four years old, and I was pretty sure things had changed since then. Back when I was four, Ben Casey and Dr. Kildare were king and when I grew up I wanted to work as their nurse. I even had a Ben Casey doll, although I wished it was Dr. Kildare, cuz he was way more handsome.
So imagine how excited I got when they wheeled me in to the operating room fifty years ago and there, under that big bright light, was Dr. Kildare telling me to count backwards from ten. I think I made it to eight before falling asleep, but I woke up with a brain cramp and a sore throat as thanks for all my effort. Backward numbering just seems like a lot to ask of a four-year-old. I stopped watching Dr. Kildare after that. And I gave up on becoming a nurse.
Yesterday they didn’t make me do any mental gymnastics. They just wanted to know my name and birthdate and why I was there—over and over and over again.  You know, it’s not like I wanted to be there. It was my doctor’s idea. I had to explain myself so many times to so many people, by the time they rolled me down the hall on a gurney, I was engaged in a full-blown identity crisis with a side order of insecurity.
Now that I’m awake, though, I’m pretty sure they’re the ones with the memory problems. I think I’ll send them a book of Sudoku puzzles as a thank you gift. They really need to get it together there—after all, I was wearing an I.D. bracelet that they gave me.
Really, the hardest part of the whole thing was the anticipation. That and the fact that they wouldn’t put me to sleep as soon as I put on that attractive hospital gown. Don’t you think they should knock you out right away so you don’t have to remember looking like a giant blue sack of potatoes with socks?
I’m glad it’s over. I hope it’s another fifty years before I take a tour of an operating room again. But should the need arise, one thing’s for sure. I’m wearing protective headgear next time. And getting my name tattooed on my arm. With my birth date. But not the name of my blog.
I don’t want to make that Atlas guy mad at me again.