Posts Tagged ‘being grandmother’

This week was the first week of Simon Summer Camp with the visit of Thomas, better known as Tuffy. We have had a wealth of experiences each day. How do you build memories for a 2.9 year old? Why, you sing about it, of course. Tuffy and I have been singing along to the brilliant and everlasting Raffi. (If you’re a grandmother, you must download his songs.)

I haven’t had much time to spend alone writing poetry, but that’s as it should be. I missed posting yesterday on actual Friday. His mother is back from her “trip.” The song we sang together to tell her about his camp week is sung to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know it.” When I sang it to him last night at bed time, he cuddled up on my shoulder, and I looked at my daughter and whispered, “I think I’m going to cry.” He popped his head right up and said, “Don’t cry, Mamère!” Then we all laughed and laughed. Pure Joy!

Uncle Ric fixed your tires, so you could stroll.
Svitlana gave you vegetables to grow.
CeCe watered flowers and plants in her yard,
And Mr. Al waved good-bye.

KiKi showed you sculptures you could touch.
She told you all about them, oh so much.
Sophie made quesadilla out of play dough,
And Rylee chased water rainbows.

Mamère and Tuffy, Summer Camp Song 2022

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

I try not to complain. I try to see the good in each day. Really, there is good in each day. But yesterday I got this haiku from a friend in Facebook Messenger.

It made me laugh, and I couldn’t resist playing along.

Haiku of my life at 5:00 on Monday.

My ribs are bruised
Coffee has lost its sweetness
Raindrops in my hair.

Margaret Simon
Sliding with “Tuffy”, age 60 and age 28 months.

This photo gives a clue to my injury. See that rather thick siding on the slide, just thick enough to bruise a rib on the way down. Can’t a Mamère have any fun!?

But I will not leave this post without hope. I am currently nurturing about 20 monarch caterpillars in my kitchen. Last week before a hard freeze, I got a text from Jennie who tends the garden at a local school: “There’s a bunch of monarchs at Sugarland. Do you have any desire to bring them in from cold? Thank you, Caterpillar hero!” On my way home I stopped by the school, found an open gate, and cut lots of milkweed with caterpillars feasting. I’m posting updates periodically on Instragram.

My January Kitchen

A net enclosure
holds milkweed to feed
future beauty-wings

Margaret Simon, (c) January 2022
Monarch caterpillars, January 2022

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

He sat on the bench near the door eyeing the white hard hats on the other side of the bench. The next thing I knew, he announced, proudly wearing the hat with the strap over his forehead that he was a “fighter fighter”.

“Who are you?”

“A fighter fighter!”

“A firefighter?”

“I a fighter, fighter.”

“I a fighter fighter” Leo (3)

This weekend I accompanied my daughter and her husband as we drove with Leo (3) to the Louisiana Children’s Museum in New Orleans for his special birthday weekend. We met up with my younger two daughters, son-in-law, and cousin Thomas (2). The Children’s Museum is full of pretend play areas, water, music, grocery shopping, etc. I climbed into a huge bubble-making contraption with both boys. Leo was interested in the pulleys that hoist the bubble up while Thomas whispered, “Bubble.” Then we all squealed when it popped.

“Cold” Thomas (2)

Pretend play with toddler boys is fun. I could watch and listen all day. As they bounce from one thing to another, a cup becomes a gas can, a handle becomes a sword, and a puzzle becomes building blocks. At the end of the day, Mamère becomes a storyteller and lullaby singer, and that’s the best job in the whole world.

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Carol at Beyond Literacy Link

This prompt came to me in an email from Poets & Writers, The Time is Now. When my Inklings saw this poem, Mary Lee thought the prompt was surely In Gratitude by Abigail Carroll which was featured on this episode of The Slowdown. I love how the universe is like that sometimes, synchronous, speaking to each other. I join the conversation with my own ode to a single letter.

Ode to Letter M

But I love the M, mountainous-
signed with 3 fingers hugging a thumb,
the way milk-full infant fingers 
grip my thumb and hold on tight.

I love the M handed down on grandmother’s tea towels,
embroidered like the sign of the cross
on my forehead. I baptize you in the name of

I stand with the Roman numeral (M)
confident in her thousand mornings
musing on the mimicry
of a single mockingbird. 

Scent of magnolia fills the room 
from the lit candle, like a warm May breeze
that blows homemade cards, 
memories, and a rainbow handprint 
identifying me
as Mamère, 
as someone to love. 

Margaret Simon

Rainbow hands, by Leo

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Last week I took both of my grandsons to a local farm. See this post. They were cautiously curious. While we walked around, multiple young cats circled and rubbed up against us. Leo has a cat at home, but I think this was his first experience with this gentle, yet intrusive cat behavior. I found this photo in my phone and made it black and white. Don’t you love how you can do that with a slide of your finger?

Photo by Margaret Simon

I don’t want to touch you.
Would you please go away?
Your gentle mew
invites me.
Can we be friends?

Margaret Simon, draft

Write your own small poem in the comments and please come back to read and comment on other writers. Happy Summer!

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

Recently I listened to the podcast “We Can Do Hard Things” with Glennon Doyle. The theme was Fun. Their definition of fun came from Abby Wombach who said that fun is when you enter into an activity without knowing the outcome. That is the definition of every day for a toddler.

Monday was the first day of Camp Mamoo. (Thomas (21 months) calls me “Mamoo”) He and his mother, daughter Katherine, are visiting and cousin Leo, 2 1/2, spent the night. Leo has come to know that when Mamére takes him someplace, it will be fun. “Going to ‘nother fun place.”

“Today we are going to a farm.”


When we passed a horse, Leo yelled, “I saw a horse. That’s great!”

The farm is in nearby St. Martinville. Belle Ècorce Farms sells goat cheese in a small portable using the honor system, a locked money box. A small town luxury.

When we got to the farm, we walked around to see some of the animals. The boys were mesmerized. Or scared.

The loose animals, rooster, chickens, and geese were particularly frightening. A billy goat in a fence came up and climbed onto the fence, expecting something good to eat.

“You don’t have to get close. Just watch.” The boys stood still as statues to watch the billy goat.

I haven’t decided yet if this was a fun experience. The boys were easy. They stayed close to us, no run and chase games. We talked on the way home.

“What did we see at the farm?”

“Moo,” says Thomas.

“Umm, rooster!” says Leo.

All I know for sure is that a day with toddlers is a day of Fun.

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

I don’t remember who recommended The Isolation Journals by Suleika Jaouad as a place to find prompts for writing, but on Sunday morning I was sitting with this idea of dwelling in possibility from Rhonda Willers.

Art made by Rhonda Willers

Saturday had been a full afternoon of Leo, my 2 1/2 year-old grandson. With his mom, my daughter, we attended a party in a small town, a gathering attended by some of Maggie’s high school friends, there with lots of young children. So much happens in 15 months of separation. Babies were born. Babies became toddlers. Toddlers became children. And they were all so happy to see each other.

At first Leo held up the wall.

Shy Leo watches the party from afar.

There was a yellow school bus parked in front of the building, a wonderful playground for toddlers who love to pretend to drive and fix things, curious and full of possibility. Where are we going? Who’s coming along. “The wheels on the bus…”

“Go round and round,” an echo from a nearby grandpa.

“Excuse me,” I said. “I’m a little obsessed,” pointing at Leo in the driver’s seat.

“I am, too,” he replied pointing to the toddler opening and closing the bus door with the handle.

Each of us knew what a bus was for. We shared that we were both elementary school teachers. But today, we were filled with the possibilities of where our grandchildren will take us.

“Look, Mamere, I’m driving the bus!”

A teenage girl with braces was painting faces. Leo stepped up shyly and sat completely still as she painted a Spiderman mask over his eyes. Looking around there were about 4 or 5 boys of various ages all wearing Spiderman masks. They were transformed into super heroes able to run, climb, fall and get back up with newfound confidence.

Transformation into Spiderman

I was chatting with a former boyfriend of Maggie’s, now a father of two, about his kids. He pointed them out and said, “He’s two and she’s almost six. This is the best time.” Whether he meant being past the scary baby stage or beyond worries about pregnancy or being free to go to parties and take your kids with you, he was right. Even for me, as the Mamere tagging along. This is the best time, dwelling in possibility.

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Ruth invites bloggers to Share Our Stories. Today’s prompt is to write fast.

Capture a shadow, dance with the wind, stand in a rainbow, begin at the end.

Mary Anne Radmacher
Photo by brenoanp on Pexels.com

Leo is learning the difference between his reflection and his shadow. He sees himself in a mirror, says, “Cute Shadow!” I am finding myself fascinated by how his little brain makes connections. How does language develop? What I am learning is that it is not at all linear. We start by repeating things a big person says. Leo parrots often. I was writing a card to a friend and said, “Dear Ellen.” He took the paper using the pen to draw right over my words and said, “Dear Ellen.” But then he kept scribbling hard and said, “Words!” And then some gibberish I didn’t understand. I took a video on my phone and sent it to Ellen.

I don’t have much video from my own children growing up. I’m sure I was as fascinated, but I was also busy being their mom. Being grandmother allows me time to reflect. I am writing things in a notebook for him. I’ve decided not to worry whether or not he will care about this when he gets older. That is not the point. I think that so many times as someone who wants to write, I worry too much about audience.

I read this morning on the Writer’s Almanac that Toni Morrison felt free when she wrote. She didn’t worry about her audience. She just marveled in the way writing consumed her. “But the writing was the real freedom, because nobody told me what to do there. That was my world and my imagination. And all my life it’s been that way.”

I don’t expect to be Toni Morrison, but I can take a bit of freedom from her. Let go and just write what comes. Ruth’s invitation today was to write fast. This was a quick write, about 20 minutes or so. Just enough time to bake a brownie or write a post. Both are sweet in their own way.

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

The world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before.

Neil Gaiman
Art wall selfie

I believe that art is for everyone. Even a 2 year old. I heard that the Acadiana Center for the Arts had free exhibits, so I packed up Leo (after a stop at CVS to get him a mask), and we made our first visit ever to an art museum. The first of many to come.

Leo, like many 2-year-olds, is learning about his world and naming things. He recently started saying, “What’s that?” In art, “that” can be open for interpretation, so I’d say, “What do you see?” He saw birds, crabs, and even dinosaurs. One large abstract painting made him say, “Scary!” I asked him what he saw that was scary. He named things in the painting that I didn’t see. Imagination beginning!

In one gallery, there was a table with an outline of a diamond shape, colored pencils, and scissors. We colored together and added our masterpiece to the art wall.

In another display there was a painted piano. He loved sitting on the stool and playing the “key horse.” I learned later that he was trying to say keyboard. I told him it was a piano, so he repeated, “pinano!”

I have joined Michelle Haseltine’s #100DaysofNotebooking. On our art date, Leo and I made a notebook page using washi tape, flair pens, colored paper, and poem seeds. Our poem captured Leo’s curiosity and wonder.

Twinkling Star

Making art in my notebook, Leo style.

Inspiration: Not everyone has the advantage of spending time with such an enthusiastic observer, but consider taking some time to go to an art museum or play in your notebook. You’ll be happy you did!

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

I recently read Anna Quindlen’s Nanaville. I could have written it. Replace her son with my daughter and give Arthur the name Leo, and we are the same! Her grandson Arthur is learning Mandarin and English while Leo is learning Spanish (from his babysitter) and English. Quindlen’s book has inspired me to capture “Small Moments” about my grandchildren.

Leo calls milk “che-che” which is Leo for Spanish leche. He calls water for drinking agua while wawer means bath or swimming pool. Sometimes we assume a word is one he learned in Spanish because we don’t know what he is saying.

Leo is becoming himself and asserting his own language. He has decided to call me “Gon.” This, I guess comes from “grandma”, but it’s not very cute. He says it as a command like “no” or “mine.” We have been trying to get him to call me Ma mère because his grandfather wants to be Grandpère. Grandpère has become the sweetest soft sound of “Pee-père.” Leo has made the connection now, so following his command “Gon!” comes sweet eyes and “Ma mère.”

In addition to language, I am fascinated by how Leo plays. On Saturday a friend stopped by and brought me two quilts she had made for the boys. Leo chose the one with fish and gators on it. We laid it out on the kitchen floor, and I opened a drawer full of paper products: plates, napkins, and cupcake holders. He went back and forth from the quilt to the drawer to create a picnic. Here is a picture of him with a paper plate of goldfish, a favorite snack. “Shish.”

The thing about language is that it it the ultimate transactional process. If you watch children acquire language, you can see them not only speaking but arranging the known world. We ask them questions we know they know the answers to–What color is the ball? Where do frogs live?–so that they can practice the arrangement. It’s also pretty thrilling to be part of the process, and for a grandparent it’s tantamount to learning a new dialect.

Anna Quindlen, Nanaville

We ask Leo questions all day long. And he labels things. He also makes connections. He will point to the bayou and say “wawer” and follow it with “boat!” Then he waves because that is what we do. Watch for boats and wave to them. He sees a man wearing khaki pants and a hat cutting the grass and says “Pee-père.”

One of my favorite connections he’s made is the portal we use to call my parents. He says, “Pop!” He’s getting to know my parents in a different way using technology, but they are a part of his life and his vocabulary.

At 11 months, Thomas, Leo’s cousin (my second daughter’s son) is experimenting with his body, crawling at lightning speed and climbing stairs equally as fast. I could have sworn last week when I kept Thomas overnight, he echoed, “Night night.” I recall that his mother spoke early.

As a grandmother, I have the luxury of time with and time without my grandsons. I can pay attention to these milestones. Make note of them. Marvel at them. I am an observer. On the sidelines to the great miracle that is language and love.

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