Grand Illusions

I got an image problem.  My little grandchild Lollipop informs me about this after she invites me to Grandparents Day at her school.

Where’s my knitting? Where’s the bun on my head? How come I don’t bake cookies? And how come I don’t go by an approved grandmother name – “Granny” or “Mamaw” or “Moomzie” – like her little friends call their grandmas.

 Moomzie? It’s bad enough I had to put up with being called Modine all these years. There ain’t no way I’m going to end my life as Moomzie. So when Lollipop was born, I grabbed the chance to get the cute little name I always wanted. Right from the bassinet, I trained her to call me “Tiffany.”

Now the Other Grandmother, my son-in-law Slime’s mother, Amanda, is a dentist, so she don’t bake cookies, being professionally anti-sugar. And she don’t wear a bun. But she got an edge because she goes by “Granny Mandy.”

When the grandkids come by her house, they do creative crafts together – she’s teaching Lollipop to knit.

Me, I live in the French Quarter. When the grandkids come by, we ride the ferry across the river and back, get beignets and go up and down all the escalators at Jax Brewery. I give them each a couple dollars to get something weird, like a voodoo charm. Up until now, that was great.

Then Lollipop found out in school that this ain’t standard grandmother behavior. And when she told her teacher, Miss Amy Lou, that her Tiffany lived in the French Quarter, Miss Amy Lou said, “My, my. How special.”

In case you ain’t in the granny loop, schools pick a Grandparents Day at random, and every kid is supposed to produce at least one old person – actual grandparents preferred, but anybody who got hot flashes or hair bristling out their ears will do.

Anyway, me and Mandy each got an invitation (a picture of a grandma with a bun) plus a schedule of events. And we both take off work and drive (separately) the hour-and-a-half to Lollipop’s school on the Northshore.

Like the schedule says, we gather in the gym promptly at 1 p.m. and mill around until Miss Amy Lou comes in and announces, very loud and s-l-o-w, that we’re now going to personally claim our individual grandchildren at classroom 9B. So we all trot, hobble or waddle to classroom 9B and spring the kids, who tumble around us like puppies as we trot, hobble or waddle back.

Now the Grandparent Competition begins.

First come refreshments. (Besides Juicy Juice, there’s Rice Krispy treats made by loving little hands and spit.) I score the first point by choking one down. Mandy palms hers and drops it in the trash.

Next is the photo op. A professional photographer takes a picture of you with your grandchild, and you can order it for $15. I order one. Mandy orders two. Score one for Mandy.

Then the children sing an original song, “Who dat say dey goin’ beat my granny? Who dat?” Then they sing again with “Grandpa.” And they get a standing ovation, because nobody can squat in them chairs for another second.

There is one more thing before the grandparents can take the grandchildren home. (Then I bet the teachers retire to the teachers’ lounge and swig the leftover Juicy Juice with rum added.)

Miss Amy Lou announces they’ll present hand-decorated handkerchiefs to each grandparent. Uh-oh. Mandy’s going to rack up the score now.

The thing is, the kids were told a couple months back to each get a clean white handkerchief from their grandparent. Miss Amy Lou tacked this hanky on cardboard so each child could draw a grandparent’s portrait on it in crayon. Then she ironed it between damp washcloths and voilá, we got a crayon-decorated hanky that we won’t ever blow our nose on again.

When my daughter Gumdrop, Lollipop’s mother, asked for these clean handkerchiefs, Amanda actually had one, all ironed, and turned it over. Gumdrop happened to be at my apartment one day and, when I wasn’t looking, she rooted around in my clean clothesbasket and come up with this folded little piece of lace she assumed was a hanky.

So she turned it in.

Only it wasn’t no hanky. It was a pair of bikini drawers.  I guess Gumdrop assumed as soon as grandmotherhood descended on you, you were required to wear them.

Anyway, Lollipop presents her Granny Mandy with a handkerchief.

I’m thinking I’ll get nothing. But it’s worse than that.

She presents me with a pair of decorated drawers.

Mandy’s hanky has a drawing of a lady knitting in a rocking chair with “Granny M.” spelled out on her knitting, like stitched letters.

 The seat of my drawers has a drawing of a lady standing under a French Quarter lamp post holding a dollar.

“Tiffany” is spelled out on her leg, like a tattoo.

 Mandy says she’s going frame her hanky and hang it in the living room.

I am tempted to say I’ll wear my drawers on special occasions. But I know Lollipop. She loves new panties. And she likes to very subtly show them off, by yanking her skirt over her head and saying, “Lookit my panties!”

She’ll expect me to do the same.

So I framed them and hung them in the living room.

My, my. I’m special.

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