My first-born child, Martie, was supposed to arrive on the fifteenth of January, but in keeping with her personality, she decided to come just after midnight on the second of January. I have been thinking of her and talking to her quite a bit lately, since it is that time of the year. She was the first baby born in the new year at that particular hospital, so we got many baby products donated by Gerber and other companies that supply useful baby items.
I call her my “Practice Child.” In truth I had a lot of practice with babies, as I am the oldest of several siblings. However, when we brought our little bitty girl home, I was petrified.
I shouldn’t have worried. That baby was not taking any guff from anyone. She still doesn’t. We did things her way and it worked out just fine. Somewhere around the first Super Bowl Sunday we celebrated her first birthday. I’ll always know how old she is even if I get feeble-minded. Of course I’ll still need to be able to translate the Roman numerals.
Running through the memories of her growing up years have been giving me pleasure and laughter.
We bought our first home when she was three. As I carried a box across the lawn, I saw her greeting the ten-year-old boy next door. Her hands were on her hips and she stomped her little foot and said, “Get off of my pussonal pwoperty!”
We had to have a discussion about manners and politeness.
The next discussion was about Strangers. She would just walk up to anyone and start telling them her name and her daddy’s name and pretty much give them a run-down of our family’s history as she knew it. When I heard her saying, “…and my daddy works at Stacey School, and…”
I began the “Not all strangers are nice, even if they seem to be” lessons.
Later we were in a dressing room in a clothing store and she peeked under the partition and said to a surprised lady in the next cubical, “HI, are you a stranger?” This was going to take a while.
Another time when we were at church, she proclaimed in her outdoor voice, “Mama, we don’t NEVER say Shut-up or goddamn at Sunday School, ‘cause it’s not nice, huh, Mama! (I was trying to ignore her and pretend I didn’t know her.) “HUH, Mama! HUH, MAMA!!”
We decided to find a new church.
Time passed and Martie reached those pleasant junior high days. Mostly she just rolled her eyes and said, “T-s-s-s-s-s- I’m Sure,” in answer to everything anyone said to her. Oh, sometimes changed things up and said other things like, “I. Am. So. Sure! Ts-s-s-s-s.”
One night she asked her daddy to drive her friend Barb and her to Disneyland. He had a basketball game to referee and was just going out the door. He said he would drop them off but in the future he’d like to know a little earlier, please.
Her reply was, “Well, I wasn’t sure.”
We went into a dramatic gasping, exclaiming, frenzy “Whaaat? Martie wasn’t SURE?”
She simply rolled her eyes and said. “Ts-s-s-s- I’m sure.” We still refer to The day Martie wasn’t Sure now and then.
When she became a quasi-adult she worked at a high-end catering place called The Turnip Rose. One night she came home from a particularly busy night where she worked a big banquet. She was telling us all about it and added that each person paid a thousand dollars to go to the event and she couldn’t believe anyone would pay that much to hear the guy speak because he was really hard to understand.
“Who was the guy?” I asked.
“I don’t know. Harry or Henry or something like that.”
“Henry Kissinger?” I had put the clues together.
“Yeah! That’s the dude!”
I am pleased to report that she was repaid ten-fold for her early embarrassing activities when she had her little ball of fire, my granddaughter, Rachel.
For example; Martie was strolling through the grocery store with three-year-old Rachel seated in the little basket chair, when she said this; “Mama look at that fat lady! She is reeeeeaally fat, huh, Mama. She is the fattest - HEY, WHY ARE YOU PINCHING ME?”
She is an RN now and works in a big hospital in Southern California. It is possible that Harry or Henry or someone (Is he still alive?) might end up on her floor. It is unlikely that she will call him “Dude.”