By Judy Berman
Giant muffins and dangerous boardwalks. Just what else would you offer your grandkids on an outing?
They had their bucket list of things to do while visiting us for the weekend: zip lining over alligators at the zoo, rappelling down the side of a mountain and traversing a suspended bridge. Uh, no.
Instead, we searched for a muffin so huge it had its own ZIP code and tentatively walked along a boardwalk with no handrails over deep water in the harbor. Mission accomplished.
When their parents returned, our grandchildren excitedly told them about their mini-vacation with us. The “grands” held nothing back, including the soft-serve ice cream we got them that was five swirls high – not three.
I waited, dreading they would start singing that song Bill Cosby’s kids sang to him around the breakfast table. “Dad is great. He gives us chocolate cake … for breakfast.”
My daughter’s eyes and mouth widened. I knew what was in the back of her mind: “Those are not my parents.”
Growing up, she thought we were strict. There were no sweet treats for breakfast that would send them zinging around the house on a sugar high.
A stroll along an unprotected walkway over water deep enough for manatees to frolic in? No way. We hovered over her and her sister until they were in their late teens like they were unsteady toddlers.
Like Cosby, she’s looking at me and thinking: “This is not the woman I grew up with.”
What can I say? I learned from the best. My Grammy set the gold standard for relaxed ground rules.
Once our kids were grown, we quickly learned that breaking a few rules was not going to scar them for life. Pizza and wings for breakfast? No problem. Staying up past 10 to watch a nail-biter of a Red Sox game? Fire up the popcorn machine.
OK. Grammy did give my Mom a real scare once when we were late returning from the movies.
We’d been gone for hours. My Mom said she had her hand on the phone ready to dial the police just as we walked in the door.
“Where have you been?” she asked anxiously, fearing the worst.
Grammy, attempting to placate Mom: “We went to a double-feature and sat thru it three times.”
Mom: “What did you do for dinner?”
Grammy: “After the second double-feature, we went out for a hot dog and soda. Then we showed our tickets to the cashier and she let us back in.”
My Mom’s aghast. Aliens must have abducted her mother. That has to explain the odd behavior.
Come to think of it. That’s exactly the look Danielle threw my way as her son – exaggerating now – told her we’d bought them a 32-ounce soft-serve ice cream. (It was only 12 ounces.).
Fortunately, in their excitement, they left out the part about the … Oh, but I’ll save that story for another time.
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* Video – Bill Cosby – Dad is Great – Chocolate Cake for Breakfast http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuamlBQ2aW4
Photo: zip lining – (What the “grands” might have envisioned for their outing.) Pfc. Jessica Y. Pacheco, an armorer for Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 365 screams down a zip line in Belize, Sept. 14, 2011. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/7c/USMC-110914-M-AF823-091.jpg/512px-USMC-110914-M-AF823-091.jpg
Photo: Child pushing grandmother on tricycle – (What my daughter and son-in-law envisioned about our weekend) Taken Aug. 11, 2008. Author: Catherine Scott http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/dc/Child_pushing_grandmother_on_plastic_tricycle.jpg/640px-Child_pushing_grandmother_on_plastic_tricycle.jpg
Illustration – (what we really did) – Norman Rockwell – Gramps at the Plate – The cover of the Saturday Evening Post published Aug. 5, 1916 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ec/Gramps_at_the_Plate_Rockwell_Print.jpg