By Jerry Zezima
The Stamford Advocate
When it comes to writers who are famous for turning real-life adventures into literary gold, Mark Twain and Ernest Hemingway had nothing on me. That’s because their idea of adventure was to go rafting down the Mississippi, prospecting for gold, deep-sea fishing or big-game hunting.
These pitiful excursions are walks in the park compared to spending two full days with a toddler.
That’s what I did recently when I was in charge of watching my 3-year-old granddaughter, Chloe, with whom I actually did go for a walk in the park and who has turned my life into one giddy adventure after another.
The latest one began at 8:15 on a sunny morning, when my wife, Sue, and I arrived at Chloe’s house, which later that day would become her old house because she and her mommy and daddy were moving into a new house. Sue’s job was to help coordinate a mission that turned out to be more complicated than the invasion of Normandy.
My job, for however long it took, was to watch Chloe. It took 11 hours. And the whole next day. Needless to say, but I will say it anyway, I got off easy.
The first thing I did was to take Chloe to one of her favorite places: Dunkin’ Donuts.
“D!” Chloe exclaimed as she reached for the letter-shaped door handle. “For Dunkin’ Donuts!”
I stepped up to the counter and ordered a bag of Munchkins, which I shared with Chloe, and a cup of coffee, which I didn’t. Contrary to what the surgeon general might say, sugar and caffeine are absolutely essential for any geezer who is about to spend an entire day trying to keep up with an active child.
Next we went to Safari Adventure, which sounds like something Hemingway would go on but actually is a children’s recreation center that would have knocked even him for a loop. Unfortunately, it was closed for renovations, although the new owners, Lindsey and Daniel, kindly gave Chloe a cup of ice cream with sprinkles on top.
It was 9:30 a.m. and already she had enough energy to power Manhattan. I figured she could burn it off at the playground. Instead, it almost burned me out.
For two hours, we ran around, going from slide to swing and back again. On the biggest slide, I took her up the stairs and hurried back down to catch her at the bottom. En route, I cracked my skull on a low-hanging bar that blessedly was made of plastic. If it had been steel, I would have bent it. If it was wood, I would have splintered it. Either way, I’d owe the playground a new slide.
Next we went to my house, where I made Chloe her favorite lunch, chicken nuggets, which I cooked in the oven without, somehow, burning the place down. Afterward, we went outside and spent the afternoon running around the yard. Then we came back in, where we ran around some more. I turned on Chloe’s favorite TV show, “Peppa Pig,” and caught my breath before making dinner (you guessed it: chicken nuggets) and playing with her until Sue came home.
That night, Chloe and I slept like babies.
The adventure continued the next day, when I set up her plastic pool outside and frolicked with her in the 6-inch-deep water. Then we ran under the sprinkler and, like Peppa Pig, jumped in muddy puddles. We also swung in my hammock, where I usually have a beer but refrained this time, even though I needed one because soon we were blowing bubbles and running around the yard again.
Around dinnertime, Chloe’s mommy and daddy came over to pick her up.
“Did you have fun with Poppie?” her mommy asked her.
“Yes!” Chloe chirped. “I had fun with Poppie!”
“Did you have fun, Poppie?” I was asked.
“Yes!” I chirped. “I had fun with Chloe!”
That night I slept like a baby again, outdoing Twain and Hemingway and dreaming of our next adventure.
Copyright 2016 by Jerry Zezima