With Grandkids, You Can Do Silly Stuff


Here’s the best thing about having grandchildren — they give you an excuse to do all the fun stuff again. Since our kids finally got on the ball and gave us some, Mark and I are once again able to ride Dumbo, get into Legoland and go to birthday parties where the gift wrap and guest attire is not black.

I mean, really, when was the last time you got to ride Dumbo? Anyone over 48 inches tall looks funny simply standing in line for that ride if they’re not holding a child by the hand. Once on it, of course, you realize the Dumbo ride is kind of … well, dumb, but those in my age bracket remember it as the signature ride they showed on the intro to TV’s Wonderful World of Disney. That quick flash across the screen of kids in mouse ears flying through the skies on Dumbo probably sold more Disneyland tickets than any other marketing tactic. (Disney World wasn’t built yet, but Mark’s family actually went out to California when he was little, and they have a picture of all the kids with Walt Disney, who was giving Mark’s little sister a kiss on the cheek. Now there’s an antique.)

My family did not get to Disneyland, but we had Muskego Beach, where the helicopter ride utilized the same up-and-down motion. It was still a thrill, that moment when you figured out how to do it by pulling the bar back and forth. You had the power!

And kids’ clothing is so cute. I’m not a big fan of slogan T-shirts on anybody, but a baby dressed for Halloween in a glow-in-the-dark skeleton onesie or in jingle-shoes and an elf hat for Christmas is just too adorable, never mind the baby-slobber.

I am not too proud to admit that I never outgrew arts and crafts time. In anticipation of having grandkids, I started collecting craft supplies about 20 years ago, and now I actually get to use them! Kids don’t seem to mind when you sit them down at a dining-room table groaning under the weight of colored paper, pipe cleaners and pom-pons, either. Even the ones who aren’t “artsy” will usually give it a try and, before you know it, the glitter is flying. (Note: Glitter is the No. 1 Most Horrible Thing to get out of the carpet, but it’s also a pleasant reminder of the fun you all had.) Next month, I’m throwing in paper doilies and we’re all making valentines.

Have you ever done reverse finger-painting with pudding? It’s the most fun ever! All you need is a plastic tabletop and some instant pudding in a dark color. I suggest chocolate! You make the pudding, ladle it onto the tabletop, let the kids slop around in it for a while (frequent licking of fingers is to be expected), and once they say they’re done, you flop a big sheet of white paper down onto the artwork and when you pull it up — a painting! Yay! (Unfortunately, you will have to dispose of this painting before the bugs find it. It’s more of “performance art,” really.)

And, once you’re a grandparent, you never again have to worry about what people will think. I recently bought a cap with dingleballs affixed to the entire surface. When I shake my head, the dingleballs wiggle and babies squeal with delight. I look like a total fool in this hat, and I don’t care. Why?

Because babies squeal with delight.