I am part of the sandwich generation. You all know what I mean. I am sandwiched between the very old and the very young.
On one side is my nonagenarian. She is a feisty old lady who doesn’t look or act her age. She is in great physical shape other than the fact that she can’t hear very well, can’t smell very well, and claims not to be able to walk very well. As for the walking, just give her a shopping cart in the supermarket and try to keep up with her. A traffic cop might help but she wouldn’t obey. I have lost several pounds chasing her up and down the aisles.
On the other side are my grandchildren. Being normal little people going through the different stages of emotional, physical and intellectual growth they provide the expected tests for the adult nervous system: conflict, espionage, and subterfuge. Put any of them together with the nonagenarian who wishes to be a revered elder and a naughty child at the same time and it’s like trying to control a barrel of mischievous monkeys.
Recently, I had no choice but to go to the supermarket with both the 24-month-old and the 91- year-old. The young one sat in the basket in front of me and the old one walked behind me zipping around with her cart and getting into as much monkey-business as possible. She proceeded to pick up candies and treats that she knew the 24 month-old was not allowed to eat. The child’s radar, of course, locked onto the junk food and she tried to elongate her little arm to reach over me and receive the treat from her great-grandmother.
The powers of observation were impeccable in both the toddler and the nonagenarian; their timing the envy of any dance team. If I turned to a shelf on my left, the nonagenarian reached over my right shoulder to give the toddler some forbidden sweet. Once in her tight, chubby little fist, I had to use all my powers of persuasion to get the snack out of her hand. Once I succeeded, I turned to scold the nonagenarian but she managed to disappear and I was left talking to thin air. This continued up and down each aisle as the elder rose to the challenges of flexible movement and rapid deployment while she accumulated as many different snacks as possible and passed them to her beloved great-grandchild before I could intercept. The woman who cannot walk so well was able to dodge, feint and sidestep with incredible speed. She appeared and disappeared at key times while I tried to gather the needed items on my list.
After what seemed like forever, I made it to the check-out line where the naughty old child handed a candy bar to the determined young child saying “Here, sweetie, take this.”
My antennae were up and my intercept quick. I snatched the bar away before the little one captured it in her vice-like grip. Both the old and the young cried out in dismay. Finally, I had no choice but to appropriately discipline both, which nearly created a riot at the register. It was my good fortune that no do-gooders were there to insist that I be reprimanded for reprimanding those in my charge.
Swiftly, I maneuvered the nonagenarian and the toddler to the car and got them safely strapped into their seats, after which I loaded the shopping into the cargo space.
At last we reached the safety of home where I promptly sent each of them to their corners for a nap. Quiet at last. Ahh, blessed relief!
first appeared in Funny Times, March 2015 edition