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Love Notes

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Now that you mention it, yes, I am a grandmother

Since I’m so old (turned 61 in June), I get asked a fairly common question by my contemporaries.

“Do you have grandchildren?” friends, brimming over with stories of their own will inquire. Of course, some folks my age have plenty of their own grandchildren and even others have already moved on to the realm of “greatness” as another generation of their progeny is populating the world. So, such a query seems reasonable, and, of course, it’s always a great conversation starter for folks my age.

For the first few years of my “she’s-certainly-old-enough-to-have-at-least-a-dozen-grandkids” period,” I fell prey to one of the most dangerous assaults known to old ladies with nothing to show for all those wrinkles and those two adult kids I reared.  

Said inquisitor listens for 30 seconds, waits for when “the moment is right,” finds an opening and launches off into a marathon bragfest on the most wonderful, beautiful and intelligent children in the world. Photos of angelic little darlings just happen to come out of the wallet or purse. Then, from the mouths of babes’ grandfolk, come nonstop stories of precious time spent with the little cherubs and how having grandchildren is the greatest. These tales can fill up one-sided conversation for a good half hour.

Well, I’ve finally found a way to stop most proud grandparents dead in their tracks. Plus, it gets me past many awkward moments of having to explain away my kids’ reproduction activities or lack thereof.

When the “Now, do you have grandchildren?” interrogation begins, I throw out a one-word answer followed by a jaw-dropping revelation.

“No,” I reply.

Before they even get a chance to pounce on the proud-parent podium for bragging rights, I hand ‘em a chaser guaranteed to render them tongue-tied.

“No, I don’t have any grandchildren,” I proudly announce. “I have two grandpuppies . . . a boy and a girl. . . really adorable too . . . black and white.” Talk about a conversation starter with a blend of gender and racial equality!

So far, bragging about my 11-month-old Border Collie grandpuppies has been every bit as fulfilling as it would be if our grandbabies, Todd and Brooke, cooed a lot, had just two legs and wore Pampers. We’ve got lots of photos to share and plenty of stories to tell, especially after their recent five-day visit to Sandpoint.

Their Lovestead visit went very well, except for my trip to the doctor’s office after introducing them to sister Kea and Aunt Kiwi’s favorite morning game: catch a mouthful of hose-nozzle spray.

Actually, Todd and Brooke were not at fault for the three-corner, inch-long ripped skin on the back of my hand. They were just innocent bystanders watching their 3-year-old Aunt Kiwi leap after the water, only to connect with my skin with her razor-sharp fang tooth.

Most other experiences of enjoying the grandpuppies went off without a hitch. Every morning, they made us feel really special as their mom and dad, Willie and Debbie, caught extra zees in an upstairs bedroom. About five o’clock, I could hear the jingle of those collars and the clatter of claws racing down the hallway and soon leaping onto the bed. I never did master the art of ducking under the covers before two pink tongues slathered my face with loving, slimy slobber while eight busy legs and two wagging tails bounced and rolled around on my rudely awakened body.

Another wonderful day of being a grandmother would get underway. Unlike grandmothers of human toddlers, I had no diapers to change. I did notice, however, that the brown, log-shaped landmines around the yard multiplied quickly. Also, like grandmothers of humans, I wasted no time making the boundaries clear for our young visitors.

“Stay away from the road, don’t run through the garden and do NOT go under the fence into the horse pen” needed only a few repeats. After all, they’re intelligent Border Collies who can learn just as quickly as they can run.  

 Unlike most grandmothers of human babies who depend on a crib for confinement, I have a fine kennel. Whenever grandpuppy adrenalin was running too high, and my patience was edging toward the “empty” button, I could simply yell out “Kennel.” Three of the four Border Collies immediately and obediently raced right through the gate into the enclosure. Eventually, I could grab hold of the ever-evasive Brooke by the collar, push her through the opening, slam the gate shut and walk off with a sense of temporary relief.

Initially, time-out time in the kennel didn’t exactly translate into quiet time. After jumping on top of the doghouse roof and determining that even they, as agile Border Collies, couldn’t leap over the chain-link fence, the puppies started their barking routine, usually led by Brooke. As parents, though, we learned long ago to just ignore the protests, and they’d give up. They did.

The pups spent a lot of time splashing in the plastic puppy pool and playing games in the yard, including racing full speed ahead dozens of times each day with the cue “Let’s go.”  Having four Border Collies racing full speed ahead, however, sometimes leads to injury when those lightning fast legs turn too quickly. At least two of the sixteen legs went lame over the week.

We even witnessed a scuffle or two. Border Collies like to win the race. Occasionally, if someone seemed destined to win, someone else would throw out a handicap, like a quick nip at a hind leg. Down went the would-be winner, and out came short-lived growls. Border Collies remember lessons but forget grudges quickly. After all, there’s too much fun in doggie life to spend it fighting.

We even took our grandpups on some outings, including a trip to Roman Nose Lake where they raced down the boardwalk, jumped into the ice-cold mountain water, and glassaded down the remaining snowbank on one side of the lake.

Afterward, we saw proof of the pudding that our grandpups are the best behaved in the world. During a stop at the Elmira Store, while we sat inside for about an hour, dining on those wonderful milkshakes and huge burgers with fries, the four dogs remained in the car. About halfway through our stay, someone suggested that certainly the dogs had all taken up new seating arrangements. I suggested that Aunt Kiwi was probably flexing her seniority and occupying the driver’s seat.

I decided to go outside to check. As a teacher, I always taught my students the “ASS-U-MPTION” rule, but sometimes I failed to practice what I preached. On this night in Elmira, I had ASSUMED incorrectly. Not one dog had moved one inch. When we all came outside later, they remained exactly where we’d left them. And, they were all still alive.

If that first visit is any indication of the future of our grandparently enjoyment, we’re in for lots of treats. And, anyone who sees me on the street and has the curiosity to ask, “Do you have any grandchildren?” had better get ready.

 I have stories. I’ve got photos, and I’m happy to brag about my barking grandbabes.

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Author info

Marianne Love Marianne Love is a freelance writer and former English teacher who enjoys telling the stories of her community. She has authored several books, the latest of which is "Lessons With Love."

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