I was wise enough to never grow up while fooling most people
into believing I had. ~Margaret Mead
I often reminisce about the many times I’ve played games with my grandchildren. One of the most enjoyable ones, we called “Chug-A-Lug-A.” As a child, I often traveled on a train, thus the chugging, spewing noises, and the shrill “Woo-Woo” of the whistle at crossings, is a vivid childhood memory.
So it became natural, when a grandchild was bored, for me to entertain him by playing this game: I would lie on one end of the sofa, encouraging him/her to lie on the other. We would put the bottoms of our feet together and make a bicycle riding motion with our legs while chanting, “Chug-a-lug-a, Chug-a-lug-a, Chug-a-lug-a.” Suddenly, I’d make a pulling motion in the air with one hand and shriek, “Woo-Woo!”, in my shrillest train whistle voice…eliciting a burst of equally shrill giggles from the child (and a deep chuckle from my husband).
This game never failed to entertain the little ones—from the very small until they were too big to lie on the opposite end of the sofa with me.
It was antics such as these that prompted my three year old grandson to ask the question, “Maw-Maw, what do you want to be when you grow up?” Another time, he overheard his mother telling me that there were no children his age in their neighborhood, and therefore, he had no playmates. Wide-eyed and serious, he said, “Me have Maw-Maw!”
We were blessed with seven grandchildren. They all learned to play the special game, as well as many others in their grandma’s repertoire. No matter how tired I was, or how busy, I stopped to play with the little ones… and they expected it. It was a wonderful time!
However, nothing lasts forever. Just as our children did, they’re growing up much too fast! The youngest now is a precocious nine-year-old granddaughter who would be highly insulted if I suggested one of those “childish” games.
Nevertheless, the fun is not over yet.
Recently, my husband and I visited our granddaughter and her husband. They are the parents of our youngest great-grandchild, Izzy, two, who was born prematurely, and is rather exceptional. She learned early that I would play, so she took my hand and led me to her playroom, which is full of toys. She ran inside her “Izzy sized” playhouse, motioning for me, saying, “C’mon, Gam-Ma.”
The playhouse, about three feet tall, looked like an impossibility for an adult to access… but not wanting to disappoint Izzy, I managed to crawl inside and sit beside her. She generously handed me a rag doll, which was quite homely. I showed my dislike for it by making an ugly face, throwing it up in the air, and squealing, “No. I don’t want that!” Izzy giggled and handed it back, wanting me to repeat the gesture, which I did … again and again. Each time, she giggled hysterically, bringing her mother running with a camera to record the hilarity of Izzy’s game with Gam-Ma.
Although exhausting, it was an enjoyable visit. I smiled all the way home, thinking about the fun Izzy and I will have when I teach her to play Chug-A-Lug-A. Better yet, we have just learned that Izzy will welcome a new baby sister in April.
Woo – Woo!
(This was written in early 2009. Izzy and her baby sister, Gabby, are older now and will soon be playing Chug-A-Lug-A with Gam-Ma.)
This story also appears in my book, Somewhere in Heaven My Mother is Smiling~