Friday, January 11, 2008

Curve ball, straight talk

When life throws a curve ball at us, we only have a millisecond to figure out how to catch it and what to do with it.

For instance, on Dec. 27, husband Richard and I were heading back to the van with granddaughters Caitlyn, 12, and Alyssa, 8, after an unsuccessful shopping search for posters of Hannah Montana and other ’tween idols.

We’d had a wonderful laugh-and-hug-filled visit. We’d shared Christmas Day together in three different homes. Four girls had mastered games, embraced new dolls and modeled new duds.
Then Caitlyn and Alyssa stayed with us until early Thursday afternoon, which was loving, fun and very instructive.

For instance, we learned that a waffle-maker type device can produce decent, tiny doughnuts, and that chocolate icing can wind up in the strangest places.

We discovered that little household touches make a big difference, even to pre-teens, and a skateboard becomes a “RipStik” when the dumbbell-shaped device has two inline-style caster wheels and a complex pivoting hinge in the middle.

A RipStikker is part surfer-snowboarder, part “Cirque du Soleil” contortionist and all magician. On a RipStik, you can wind up with a left foot heading north and right foot going east, which can lead to some interesting splits.

I also discovered that when a former super-skateboarder … ahem … matures a bit … ahem … he may not be as adaptable to such radical changes as he used to be.

Caitlyn is an experienced RipStikker, so she soared around the pavement, looping and twisting and flashing victory signs. Learner Alyssa held onto her daddy’s hands as she wiggled her feet back and forth, trying to get up enough momentum to actually go forward.

Then it was Daddy’s turn.

At first, our son Sean wobbled and nearly fell. Finally, with eyebrows slammed together, mouth pursed and arms gyrating for balance, he managed a few shaky passes. But as he inched past, the former boarder yelled out to me, “This is supposed to be fun?”

Meanwhile, back at the curve ball. Caitlyn pseudo-casually lobbed it. “So … Grandma, do you know anything about the Spears family?”

I knew where the conversation was heading. As my life flashed before my eyes, I wondered how much the girls’ parents would want me to say and … gulp … if I was up for this, right there in a Target parking lot.

I caught the conversational ball. “I know more about the Spears than I ever wanted to know. Why do you ask?”

With downcast eyes, Caitlyn asked, “What about Jamie Lynn?”

Yup, I knew it.

“Well, it’s all over the news that she’s pregnant at 16, and not married,” I said, trying to master the art of walking with both feet in my mouth at the same time — much trickier than RipStik riding.

“How do you feel about her pregnancy?” I asked our grandgirls about the star of Nickelodeon’s “Zoey 101” hit show.

“Very disappointed. Jamie Lynn said she wasn’t going to turn out like Britney, and now she has,” Caitlyn said as her little sister nodded so vigorously that her hair flew back and forth like hummingbird wings.

I asked, “If you could talk to Jamie Lynn, what would you say to her?”

Caitlyn spread her hands at shoulder height, shrugged and said, “I’d ask her ‘Why?’ ”

We talked a lot then about Jamie Lynn, Britney and life. Our girls are disappointed that their squeaky-clean super-heroine turned into a fault-prone human being who makes mistakes. In other words, Jamie Lynn is just like the rest of us.

Eventually, the girls understood that making a mistake — even a serious, life-changing one — is different than living in a downward spiral filled with self-destructive actions.

I said, “I hope Jamie Lynn will enjoy being a mommy.”

Caitlyn answered, “I hope she’ll take good care of the baby. I hope she has learned her lesson. I hope she’ll be OK. I hope she will be happy ... I hope she won’t turn out like Britney.”

“Me, too,” said Alyssa.

So, what did I learn on our holiday vacation?

Well, I certainly won’t be getting on a RipStik in this lifetime. I’ve relearned that curve-ball catching can be thought-provoking.

And we’ve got super wonderful granddaughters. But I already knew that.

No comments: