Disco dancing and more with the Energizer baby

The last word about dads on Father's Day

If you’ve been hanging around this column awhile, you’ll recall
that three years ago I made a 10-month-long move to Long Beach to
care for Gracie, our first-born grandchild, when her mommy returned
to work. It was an act of love. An act of commitment. An act of
total insanity.
If you’ve been hanging around this column awhile, you’ll recall that three years ago I made a 10-month-long move to Long Beach to care for Gracie, our first-born grandchild, when her mommy returned to work. It was an act of love. An act of commitment. An act of total insanity.

Because when you promise one daughter something, you recklessly promise your other daughter the same thing, and a couple of months ago, it was time to pay up. Daughter No. 2 was returning to work after maternity leave, and I embarked on a new mission: looking after our grandson, Charlie.

Now, I learned valuable information during the months that I watched Gracie, such as a baby blessed with the sweetest face this side of heaven can produce a diaper as toxic as Chernobyl. But I mainly learned that child rearing has drastically changed since the days of my daughters’ infancies.

This is due to the distressing fact that pushy individuals forming the Very Aggressive Battery Lobby (motto: “You’ll get a Big Charge out of us!”) have strong-armed top government legislators into passing strict U.S. laws mandating that no child shall grow out of babyhood without possessing a requisite 12,817 children’s toys, each requiring 13 to 56 batteries apiece, enabling said toys to whir, blink, sing, replicate farm animals and play annoying music 24/7. Additionally, these toys and batteries are to be manufactured in China because our government owes China a boatload of money, and this is how they’re getting back at us. But don’t quote me on that.

The most irritating thing about these toys is that they are possessed. Seriously. I don’t care how long ago you turned off the toy, by simply walking within 20 feet of these fiendish devices, they will loudly hurl out random announcements – generally at a time when you have just put baby down for a nap.

“Got my TOES!” blurts out Cute Soft Puppy (not his real name) as I head to the kitchen to rinse out Charlie’s bottle, which is followed by a rousing rendition of “Head, shoulders, knees and toes.” “You’re my FRIEND,” announces Cute Soft Puppy upon my return. “Pipe down, you little mutt,” I hiss, “or you’ll be finding your next friend at the dog pound.”

And do you think it might be possible to read a normal book to my grandchild? Ha! Oh, sure, there are “normal” books at Charlie’s house, but Charlie has latched onto the electronically enhanced book that makes noise. Lots and lots of noise. “Turn the page!” Book Lady reminds me about 50 times an hour. “Listen to the cat sing!” she blabs when Charlie hits the red button, thereby initiating “Three Little Kittens” in the most annoying “Meow, meow, meow” rendition ever. This racket fires up Cute Soft Puppy. “Ha-ha-ha, that tickles!” he giggles. I shoot him the evil eye and he’s quiet. For a minute. Not to be outdone, Book Lady comes back with “Ring-around-the … Mooooooooo.”

Lately Charlie’s favorite toy is a hand-me-down from his cousins, Gracie and Emily. This machine is One-Man-Band with flashing disco lights, music and a little kid voice that belts out random declarations. “You’re a STAR!!” he hollers, underscoring this proclamation with the ever popular, “Doo-Be-Doo-Biddy-Doo-YEAH!” By sitting – or as Charlie has now learned – standing at the “control panel,” your youngster can rock out like the Rolling Stones with keyboard, guitar, horns and who knows what all. And now that Charlie is combining One-Man-Band with Magic Maracas (requiring roughly 17 batteries), we are producing show-stopping results around here.

“Shake it UP!” enthuses Magic Maracas to a samba beat enhanced by cymbals, bongos and other sounds of the islands. Well. This prompts Pretend-Cell-Phone to commence ringing off the hook. “Hello? Hello?” pleads Cell Phone Girl hopefully. “Peek-a-boo, I SEE you!” shouts Cute Soft Puppy. “YAY!!” yells back One-Man-Band-Boy. “Let’s DANCE!”

“HUG ME!” shouts Cute Soft Puppy as I contemplate dropkicking him out the window. “Turn the PAGE!!” jeers Book Lady. Sheesh, not on your life, lady. Turning the page will net me another fairy tale sung by livestock.

Meanwhile, Charlie is bouncing to the rhythm of the One-Man-Band beat. Except, oops. Bouncing becomes frustration when Charlie attempts to climb One-Man-Band and gets stuck with one foot on the floor and the other wedged between the keyboard and the saxophone. Well. I’ll just rumba on over and extricate Charlie from his musical instruments. “NOW you’re rockin’,” belts out One-Man-Band-Boy knowingly.

So now that Good Time Charlie is safely back in an upright position with both feet on the floor, “Mimi” (that’s me) needs a break. I wonder if anybody around here has a bottle of gin stashed under the bed. Because I am frazzled. And it’s … OMG! 9:30am? Really?? “I LOVE YOU!” shouts Cute Soft Puppy. Well.

“Zappity-Bap-Bap-Booooooo,” concedes One-Man-Band-Boy. Yep. That about sums it up.

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