From Silly Putty to Sillypants 2016.04.20


I skipped the Morenci Education Foundation dinner and auction this year. That’s only the second time. Once before I had to go visit Leonard Cohen in Detroit; this time it was grandchildren.

I felt badly to pass it by this year, but distant grandchildren don’t visit all that often. Besides, neither Colleen nor I were functioning all that well by Saturday evening because of the previous long night. 

We did solo grandparenting with two kids while the parents had a night away. One child slept soundly and the other slept seldomly. Poor Ellie, still nursing, was out of her routine. I was soon out of my routine, too, which consists of sleeping overnight.

Although Colleen took the first shift with a crying child around 1 a.m., I think, there still wasn’t much sleep for me. I could hear the commotion downstairs and besides that, I was being forced into a crack between two beds by the other grandchild where I had fallen asleep after probably reading “Let’s Go Swimming with Mr. Sillypants” for 57th time.

Ellie was back in bed and sleeping until around 5 a.m. when she awoke and I took a turn. We went downstairs and read four books to her favorite doll, then headed to the rocking chair for a little quiet crying and eventually sleep. 

It was nearing 6 a.m., my back was killing me in the rocking chair, she was sound asleep—I decided to take us back to bed. As soon as I put her down, of course, she was awake and crying and off we went again to the rocking chair.

The phrase we heard repeatedly that night was “Mommy nee-nee” which is her phrase for “Let’s have some more breastmilk.”

This led to a recitation of the words used by our own children so many years ago: bah-bah for Ben, book-ah for Maddie, and, lo and behold, nee-nee for Rosanna, the mother of the crying child. Rosie claims that she never taught her daughter to use that word. It’s just an amazing display of genetics.

The bound volume of the 1986  Observers is handy for the Decade Review and I took a look at what Rosanna was up to.

“When it comes to burping, babies have a mind of their own. It seems simple enough—drink, pat, belch—but it doesn’t always happen that way.

“I have a friend in Detroit, a grown-up friend, who claims to have a burp spot on her back. I’ve never tried to find it, but apparently her husband knows right where it’s at. If she’s feeling a little pressure in the stomach following a meal, he rubs her burp spot and out comes instant relief.

“I assume this has something to do with energy flowing through the meridians of the body, as in acupressure. That’s acupuncture without the needles. Somewhere along the sacrospinalis muscles, or maybe some point in the triple warmer meridian, lies the magic burp point.

“I must try to find this on Rosanna since my current method is failing. Children learn by imitation, you know, but Colleen is tiring of listening to my lessons.

“As they say, you can lead a baby to milk, but you can’t make it burp.”

When Rosanna was four months old, I mentioned in this column that I have been asked why Ben gets all the good press and his sister isn’t mentioned much.

“OK, here’s an update. She enjoys spending large blocks of time lying on her back sucking on her big toe. Try that sometime. You might find it very relaxing, and your family will find it very amusing.

“Although Rosanna is still at the drinking age, her interest in eating is growing strong. She’s always watching us put stuff in our mouths and chew it, so she’s trying the same thing.

“I’m stuffing peanut butter and jelly into my mouth, she’s going with a plastic giraffe. I’m not sure if she’s discovered the difference or if she has concluded, ‘Ah, so this is what life is all about.’”

I read in an old column that Ben was having a good time with his baby sister:

Ben: “You wanna see Rosanna? I’m putting it on her eyes.”

Me: “You’re putting what on her eyes?”

Ben: “Silly Putty.”

That’s how it goes, from Silly Putty to Silly Pants but with me getting older.