One of the grands barrels toward me and squeals, “It’s hard not to let the beans out, Grandma.”
“What beans?” I ask.
“Mom said not to spill the beans.”
“You’re keeping a secret from me?”
“It’s not a secret. It’s beans. We’re keeping beans.”
“What are these beans about?”
“Mom is hiring a babysitter to watch us when she and Dad go out on a date. Mom said you’re too busy to watch us, but not to tell you about the sitter because you might not like that and that’s why we’re not supposed to spill the beans.”
“Wonderful,” I say, lying through my teeth. “What’s the sitter’s name?”
“Olivia,” she says with a breathy air of rhapsody. Her big brown eyes flutter, and she nearly swoons.
“Pretty name,” I say. “Did your mother do a background check?”
“What’s a background check, Grandma?”
“Well, you can go online and — oh, never mind.”
“And guess what else, Grandma? She’s a teeeeeeen-ager!”
“Well, it just keeps getting better and better, doesn’t it, dear?”
She said “teenager” in a fashion that lets me know she is officially throwing down the gauntlet. I am in competition with a teenager. Make that teeeeeeen-ager.
Clearly, this round will go to Olivia, as Grandma is on her way to becoming a seeeeeeenior, and nobody swoons when they say “senior.”
“We had her babysit once before. Remember?”
“I do remember. I was restless all night.”
“Hey, Grandma, can you make a blade of grass whistle?”
She hands me a rough blade of grass. I place it between my fingers and try blowing on it, but nothing. I try again and again. I’ve got a cut on my lip from the blade of grass and drool on my hands. It is not going well.
“Olivia can make a blade of grass whistle.”
“That’s nice,” I say. “Can she do a barred owl call?”
“I don’t know Grandma, but she does cartwheels. Can you do a cartwheel?”
“Does Olivia have a baton?” I ask.
The kids discovered my old twirling baton under a bed not long ago. If I clear a 6-mile radius, I can still throw it in the air and catch it, and nobody gets a head injury.
“I don’t think she has a baton, Grandma, but Olivia can do roundoffs. Can you do roundoffs?”
Not since the 1990s, kid. Clearly, if I want to stay in the running, I’ll have to set the ends of the baton on fire.
“Guess what else, Grandma? Olivia is going to prom!”
Prom? There’s no way I can compete with prom.
“I’m going home now, sweetie. Have a lovely evening with the sitter. Call me if you need anything, but I’m going to be very busy tonight.”
“What are you doing tonight, Grandma?”
“Baking my famous sugar cookies.”
From the look on her face, I may still be in the running after all.
Lori Borgman is a columnist, author and speaker. Reach her at email@example.com.