My grandson has toys like other kids, but he doesn’t like them. Instead, he likes the toys that aren’t his and that aren’t toys, either.
For example, the extension tubes and the sweeper/sucker for the vacuum cleaner. He likes to take those out of the closet as soon as he gets here, come into my bedroom where I’m sleeping, and beat me in the head with the tubes. They are plastic and they hurt and I never fail to wake up.
Then he climbs up on the bed with the filthy sweeper attachment and plops it in my lap and smiles.
I know my job, which is to play with the filthy attachment and whack the comforter with the tubes. We do that for a while. It is pretty funny judging by his laughter, but it is not funny at all judging from my wife’s shrieks. I guess she doesn’t like the attachment thing on her pillow.
Which is weird because we were in Santa Barbara this morning and she ordered a bagel with “the works” and she was about halfway through it. “Is it good?” I asked.
“It’s delicious,” she said.
“Even the hair?” I asked.
“What hair?” she said.
“That one hanging out the end of the bagel.”
She looked and was grossed out. It wasn’t just a short little thing, it was good six-incher, blonde, and formerly belonged to the blonde girl who had made the bagel and was now making our coffee which I could only hope wasn’t going to be a cafe au lait au cheveux. We couldn’t decide whether to make a big deal out of it or not because the hair that was still on the girl’s head was obviously clean and freshly washed, but on the other hand when you order “the works” on your bagel they should tell you if it’s going to include hair.
Anyway, after we stow the vacuum cleaner attachments, I turn on the iPhone and play some music, which he likes because now he’s taken out granny’s Zumba 1.5-pound dumbbells with maraca-sand in the ends so they are mini-rhythm exercise devices. I don’t ever listen to music but one time I downloaded Cat Stevens’s Greatest Hits so I turn that on and he shakes the maracas to “Ooooh, baby, baby, it’s a wild world … ” and I sing and clap and he sways to the beat until his arms get tired and then he drops the weights, usually on my kneecaps, which hurts a lot, and suddenly I’m still saying “Ooooooh, baby, baby … ” but followed by “for fuck’s sake!” or some other grandfatherly phrase.
Next he ignores anything that says Fisher-Price on it and goes into the bathroom, then demands that I lift him up and set him on the counter.
If you are a woman you would simply not lift him up, but if you are a man, especially a grandfather, you do some quick calculus that looks like this:
- If I don’t pick him up he’s going to cry. Cry = Drive me nuts.
- If I do pick him up he’s going to make a huge mess but he will be quiet. Huge mess < Quiet for a while.
- My wife is going to get really angry about the huge mess. Angry wife > Drive me nuts.
- I can blame it on the baby. Angry wife – Baby blame = 0.
So I put him up on the counter.You don’t realize how dirty your bathroom counter is until you put a toddler on it. Toddlers see all kinds of tiny stuff, mostly because their eyes are super sharp and they’re inches away from what they’re looking at, whereas I’m way up high and am mostly blind anyway.
He likes the Nivea skin cream, and opens up the bright blue bottle and tries to drink it. “Don’t drink that,” I say.
He likes the pump-action skin cream for dry and chapped legs and he whacks on the pump and out splurts a gob of cream, which he tries to eat. I let him lick it so he can see how nasty it is and because that’s the best way to teach a little kid what not to eat.
He loves it and tries to eat all of it, but I stop him.
Then he opens the toothpaste tube. I put some of it on the electric toothbrush and he loves that. We turn the toothbrush on and off a hundred times and each time I put it up against his front tooth. It literally is a tooth brush.
Next he dumps out the razor cup that’s got a bunch of other stuff in there, kind of like a utility cup for your face. I look in the bottom of the cup. Yuck! Nasty!
He sticks his hand in it and rubs the wet brown stuff in the bottom of the cup. Quick as lightning, finger into mouth. I’m hoping the skin cream will kill the bacteria somehow. I keep waiting for him to make a “yuck” face but he acts like he’s been given the keys to the candy store.
Finally we get bored, about the time he grabs for the razor, and we go back into the living room.
“What were you doing in there?” his mom asks.
“Nothing,” I say.
She hands him a little Fisher-Price colored ball. He kicks it away in disgust and toddles over to the closet where we keep the vacuum cleaner.