Grandma’s Magical Pocketbook
BY JACKIE CLEMENTS-MARENDA
It was a hot day in New York City. I had planned to relax in my air conditioned house, but when I got the “Grandma, let’s go out” phone call from grandchild #3 I heeded the Grandparent Code that states: ‘Make memories now because tomorrow is not guaranteed’, and I am determined to make whatever time I share with my four grandchildren an adventure … as long as it doesn’t involve having to use a Porta-San, or any activity that includes snakes.
“With more days behind me than ahead, if I don’t run through the sprinklers now with my grandchildren when am I going to do it?”
So instead of watching the Alaskan Bush People Marathon on television comfortably at home, I sat on a playground bench watching my 5 year old grandson run through the sprinklers with his friends – and yes, I was considering joining him. I am a Senior Citizen with a full head of gray hair and face lines that tell the history of my life. Content with who I am, long ago I stopped worrying about what other people might think about my sometimes juvenile behavior. With more days behind me than ahead, if I don’t run through the sprinklers now with my grandchildren when am I going to do it?
A sudden wail came from a fallen child, immediately surrounded by a group of sympathizers who viewed the scraped knee. My grandson Christopher’s voice rose above the others. “You need sanitizer and a band aid. I’ll get them from my Grandma.”
The entire group turned to look at me, and one girl asked, “Your Grandma has that stuff?”
“Sure,” Christopher replied. “My Grandma has everything in her Magical Grandma pocketbook.”
As I handed Christopher these items we shared a laugh at the nickname my pocketbook (Grandma’s Magical Pocketbook) had acquired during my 13 years of grandmothering. Smaller than a diaper bag, but larger than the average pocketbook, I think of it as my ‘hope for the best, prepare for the worst’ necessity and it holds stuff for myself and for the grandkids.
So exactly what is hiding in the dark recesses of grandma’s magical pocketbook?
Cell Phone: I have a basic flip-phone, not the ultra expensive kinds that do everything except make coffee for you. Although I did learn how to text I rarely do it because by the time I find the reading glasses I’ve already forgotten what was so important to text now.
Medical Insurance Card: Accidents happen, children get sick, and how you are going to pay for treatment is a priority question at all medical facilities.
Notarized Permission Slip Signed By Parents: This allows me to seek immediate medical treatment for the child instead of having to wait until the parent is located and present.
Picture ID of Child: It must be updated each year and include height, weight, and color of child’s hair and eyes. Our area photographers offer it with the annual school picture packet, but you can easily put your own together.
EpiPen: My oldest grandchild has severe allergies and the EpiPen allows extra time to get medical help. The first time circumstances forced me to jab him it was difficult, but I’ve become accustomed to giving the ‘shot of life.’
Reading Glasses: Is it me or is the fine print on menus getting smaller? Being on a budget I want to know in advance if the chicken fingers come with fries, or at an additional charge.
Quarters: What child can walk past a vending machine filled with clear plastic eggs that contain prizes? At twenty-five cents per orb I consider it a bargain.
M&M’s: Best tear stopper I know.
Crayons: Color some rocks, or leaves. If you are daring, let your grandchild draw a tattoo on you. I’ve sported some terrific fish.
Wet Wipes: Sometimes tissues won’t do the job. Three of my four grandchildren are boys, and if it creeps, crawls or drools they just have to touch it.
Mosquito Repellent: West Nile, Zika, those nasty New York mosquitoes that leave you with welts. Better to try to protect yourself then to do nothing at all, so I carry repellent bands the kids can wear around their ankles.
Mini Umbrella: For those unexpected downpours that occur just as my grandchildren exit school on my pick-up day.
Date book: I can’t recall what I had for breakfast, so aside from personal appointment reminders my book is full of plans for ‘Ice Cream for Breakfast’ day, ‘Throw Pebbles in The Ocean’ day, and ‘Guess The Cloud Shapes’ day etc..
Tweezers: This is a new addition resulting from the deterioration of the wooden benches where we often stop to feed the ducks. Splinters are not fun.
Padre Pio Prayer Card: My go-to Saint for pleas such as, “Please don’t let that big friendly dog run this way and jump on me because if it knocks me down I will break a hip.”
Pepto-Bismol: Just in case. No further explanation necessary.
Blood Pressure Medication: I always carry a supply in case of a sudden overnight stay like in an Emergency Room with a grandchild who fell off a swing.
Panty-Liners: Sometimes you laugh, sometimes you sneeze, and then – ladies, you know what I’m talking about.
Sunglasses: Not a necessity, but a great prop when I am driving with all four grandkids and we are pretending to be The Blues Brothers. I’m always John Belushi because I am ‘rounder’ than the grandkids.
Overkill? Perhaps, but every item in my magical pocketbook has been used more than once. I expect to need less for the grandchildren as they get older, but then I will probably need more for myself – so the pocketbook will still be heavy enough to tell my cardiologist, “Of course I excise every day. I lift weights.”
Next week is ‘Grandma’s ride a bicycle for the first time in fifty years’ day. Hmm … I wonder if knee pads could fit in my pocketbook …?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – JACKIE CLEMENTS-MARENDA
Freelance writer Jackie Clements-Marenda was born into a close-knit family in Brooklyn, NY whose appetite for eclectic literature provided a diverse literary diet from the Bible and Nancy Drew to Shakespeare and Zane Grey.
Jackie has been published in over 200 magazines and newspapers. She is a grandmother of four and her personal experiences are often interwoven into her stories.
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