By Jerry Zezima
The Stamford Advocate
When I was 3 years old, I knew my ABCs. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn the rest of the alphabet until I was in high school.
Even now, my granddaughter, Chloe, who will turn 3 next month, is way ahead of me. So I was thrilled recently when I was asked to assume actual adult responsibilities and, for the first time, bring Chloe to school.
Because my younger daughter, Lauren (known to Chloe as Mommy), and her husband, Guillaume (aka Daddy), had an early morning appointment and would be gone before Chloe got up, I (Poppie) had to sleep over and get her ready for what promised to be an exciting day.
To facilitate matters, Lauren gave me a list of instructions. The first, written in her very neat cursive, was: “Wake up.”
This is extremely important, unless you are deceased, in which case the sleepover becomes permanent.
Instruction No. 2: “Change pull-up.”
“I don’t wear pull-ups. At least not yet,” I informed Lauren, who rolled her eyes (I rolled them back) and said, “Chloe does. Take her to the potty. I’ll leave her outfit in her bedroom. Bring it downstairs and get her dressed after breakfast.”
I perused the remaining instructions, which included what to give Chloe for breakfast (three-quarters of a cup of milk, microwaved for 30 seconds; one strawberry yogurt; and one slice of multigrain toast).
“I spoke with Mrs. Kramer,” said Lauren, referring to Chloe’s preschool teacher, “and told her you were dropping off Chloe and that you would pick her up after school. I gave her a description of you, but you may have to show her your driver’s license.”
I felt like an escaped felon, but I guess you can’t be too careful these days.
The next morning, I followed Instruction No. 1 to the letter and woke up.
“Do you know what to do?” Lauren asked as she put on her coat.
“Yes,” I replied confidently. “I have to go to the potty and then have breakfast.”
Lauren rolled her eyes again and said, “And don’t tell Mrs. Kramer any of your stupid jokes. She might call the cops.”
About 15 minutes after Lauren and Guillaume left, Chloe woke up. I went upstairs to her bedroom and opened the door.
“Poppie!” she exclaimed.
“Good morning, Honey!” I chirped.
I followed the remaining instructions (potty, check; pull-up, check; breakfast, check; outfit and hair bow, check; brown shoes, check; hat and coat, check; backpack and sippy cup, check; carseat, check) and drove Chloe to school.
I waited at the door with her as a bunch of other kids and their mothers showed up. The young women smiled at me, but I could tell what they were thinking: “Who the hell is this geezer?”
A few minutes later, Mrs. Kramer opened the door.
“Hi, Mrs. Kramer,” I said, introducing myself. “I’m Poppie.”
“Hi, Poppie,” said Mrs. Kramer, who greeted Chloe by saying, “Good morning, Chloe!”
“Good morning, Mrs. Kramer!” said Chloe.
“Do you need to see my driver’s license?” I asked Mrs. Kramer.
“No,” she responded pleasantly. “Lauren gave me a description of you. I’ll see you later.”
“Bye, Chloe,” I said.
“Bye, Poppie!” said Chloe, who went inside with her little friends.
I smiled at the mommies and drove back to Lauren and Guillaume’s house, where I made myself useless for a couple of hours before returning to pick up Chloe.
As the door opened and the children exited, Mrs. Kramer held up a bag and said, “Here you go, grandpa!”
I thought she was talking to me, but she was referring to Mike, a fellow grandfather who was picking up his grandson, Mason.
“We’re the only grandpas here,” I said.
“I know,” said Mike. “But I’ve done this before. Mrs. Kramer knows me.”
“No one would mistake us for mommies,” I said.
Mike nodded and said goodbye. I took Chloe’s hand and said goodbye to Mrs. Kramer, who smiled and said, “You did a good job.”
“Did I pass the test?” I asked.
“Yes,” said Mrs. Kramer. “You can tell Chloe that Poppie got a gold star.”
Copyright 2016 by Jerry Zezima