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by Ann Ipock

It wasn’t like we didn’t have plenty of warning — six months, to be exact. Or, that the job was difficult — baby sitting our precious granddaughter for the weekend. Or, that we knew nothing about children — having raised two daughters of our own, Russell, my husband, and I. We gladly offered to let Madison stay here while Kelly, our daughter, and her husband, Chuck, vacationed.

Telling this story to friends, I was met with skepticism. One dubious woman sniffed and said, “Good luck.” Another nodded and said, “You’re in for a treeeeeeat,” but failed to elaborate.

I cringed — then thought, Wait a minute. What could go wrong?

Interestingly, one young mother of four daughters said, “My mother has been running a ‘Granny Camp’ for several summers. Her theory is to ‘keep ’em busy, or you’ll wind up in a tizzy.’” She offhandedly suggested activities like horseback riding, theater going or museum touring.

“Do what?” I muttered.

“Oh,” Amy said, “and just remember to hang loose.”

“Hang loose — who, me?” I said, with a furrowed brow.

Well, Madison’s attention span was too short for a theater show or museum tour; and getting her up on a saddle was out of the question! Keeping this in mind, I devised my own ‘Grammy Annie’s Camp.’ This would include cake baking, sandcastle building, a manicure, reading books, blowing bubbles outside, and watching the Wiggles video (at Kelly’s suggestion) — a quartet of ridiculously silly Australian boy-men who dress much too brightly and sing strange songs with high-pitched voices. Quite frankly, they scare me and they GRATE on everyone’s nerves, EXCEPT Madison’s!

For Madison’s visit, Nancy, my sister, came from Raleigh to offer necessary field assistance. Katie, our youngest daughter provided much-needed back-up support, and Russell himself took over the mission a few times. Indeed, it took four adults to keep up with, as it turned out, this fast-as-lightning, ants-in-her-pants, full-of-herself, little squirt.

In fact, my mother calls Madison “the home wrecker” because she tends to wreck homes, leaving most things in her path destroyed. Mama also calls her “Little Ann,” though I can’t imagine why.

I don’t believe Madison is so different from other 3-year-olds (she’ll turn 3 next month). Still, she is a real study in human evolution. She evolves each morning full of energy, excitement and enthusiasm. “What’s that?” shows her curious side. “I can do it myself!” shows her independent side. “I don’t want to,” shows her stubborn side, and “I love you so much!” shows her loving side. She also has a playful, albeit teasing side, which both delights and exasperates us all.

One afternoon, I let her water my flower and herb garden. When I turned my back for a mere second, she turned the hose on ME. I promptly took the hose away and watched her dormant “terrible 2’s” resurface: her squeals of delight turned to screams of resistance.

Another time, I gave her the empty bowl of cake batter to finish off. I poured the batter itself into the cookie sheet then walked over to the oven to turn it on. Again, I turned my back for a mere second. Uh-oh! The temptation! Madison darted to the cookie sheet, and ran ALL of her fingers through the batter. Thank goodness for Spray ‘n Wash because her hands were full of gooey chocolate, and so was her pretty pink blouse.

Once she gave me a big bear hug, saying, “I love you, Grammy!” Then she held my face with her tiny hands, eyeing something quite fascinating. Finally she said, “Grammy, you have a pole on your face.” A what? Oh, I see, I thought. She meant ‘a mole.’

When we were in the mall, she asked me if my watch turned blue. She said her daddy’s does and that Katie’s does. I was baffled; then realized she was referring to the light-up dial feature. What an education I was getting!

Madison is independent in a way unlike any child I’ve ever known. She dresses herself (even shoes and socks; buckles require help), brushes her own teeth, and sleeps alone. But she has not mastered potty training. Bribery has helped to a point: jellybeans, Hershey kisses, even lollipops. At first the handy-candy worked because (a) she’s never eaten sugary sweets before and (b) she enjoys rewards. Well, that wore off. The bribery stash has now been upgraded to Matchbox cars if she will just poop in the potty. The other “half” of her training has been accomplished.

Just like her Grammy and her aunts, she loves shopping. One day, I bought her several beach toys, and Nancy bought her Dora-Dora underclothes. At bedtime, Madison opened the package saying, “I’m laying out these new panties in case I have an accident.” So we know she understands the concept; but for some reason, she is still “holding on,” or should I say “holding in?” Hmmmmm . . .

Our visit ended today when Madison went home. I sure miss that blue-eyed, sandy blonde three and a half foot tall princess running through the house with squeals of laughter.

After lunch, I said to Russell, “Geez, Louise, suddenly I feel sooooooooo tired. Think I’ll take a little siesta.” While I’m normally not one to sleep in the middle of the day — I CRAVED a nap! My body went limp, my speech became slurred, and I felt like I was walking in quicksand up to my knees.

I trudged along to the bedroom, telling Russell I’d be up shortly. I literally crawled into bed. FOUR HOURS later, I woke up in a fog, thinking, Where am I? What day is this? Why is everything so quiet? I stumbled to my feet, washed the sleep from my puffy eyes, and ran a brush through my wild hair. The clock read six o’clock, so I went looking for Russell, who I just knew was worried about my sleeping that long. Hahaha! Not a chance. I found him sprawled on the sofa, sawing logs himself. I punched him awake.

After freshening up, we went out for dinner. Beside us sat a little girl about Madison’s age, with, I guessed, her grandmother. I almost asked, “So . . . how’s ‘Granny Camp’ going?”


Ann M. Ipock, author of Life Is Short, But It’s Wide (In The Southern State of Reality) can be reached at amipock@sc.rr.com.

Ann is a biweekly humor columnist with the Georgetown Times, South Carolina’s oldest newspaper.

Whether we are hearing about Ann’s unspeakable accident—the time she got the mayor’s mustache caught up in her dental hygiene polisher, her view on prissy Southern women who actually resort to toothpicks after meals—(those thick fake nails just can’t possibly remove spinach from one’s front teeth), or her frustration with sticking to a budget—the normally-$100 supper club night she hosted which turned into a $2400 remodeling job (blame it on the new carpet), we can only think of one thing to say, “Tell us more!”

Life Is Short, But It’s Wide (In the Southern State of Reality) is Ann’s second book of humor columns. Published by Carolina Avenue Press, the book was released in September, 2003. Her first book was entitled What Was It I Was Saying? She is a regular contributor to Sasee Magazine, and she also writes for Pee Dee Magazine, Strand, and Gateway Publications. She is active in community theatre, where her favorite role to date was that of Truvy Jones in Steel Magnolias. Her day job consists of being a home-based, self-employed medical transcriptionist for twelve years.

Visit Ann’s WEB SITE to read more of her delightful columns.


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