The Bakersfield Six Plus One, or a Grandmother’s Dream
The one is me – Gramser, and the six are the grandkids who live in Bakersfield. And right now the seven of us are in Alta Sierra at my cabin. Amazingly, all six of the grandkids get along fabulously – they keep themselves entertained and do things together and have fun. The ages range from eight to fifteen, and all six have been doing activities together for two days now. The biggest blessing for me is that they all want to be with me! And each other.
We have no television at the cabin, cell phones are spotty, but we do have a television screen so we can watch DVDs and play wii. And I have an iHome for the kid’s iPods. I once had an iTouch, which I lost, but my music wouldn’t have suited anyway. Amazingly, no one has turned on the wii yet. And I can’t even do my wii fit because all the furniture from the dining room area is in the living room. The dining room has become a dance floor.
For hours – and I mean about five hours now, I’ve been hearing “to the right to the right, to the left to the left” as they choreograph some big number. I’m not supposed to be watching rehearsals, but I sure am hearing rehearsals. And the kids don’t want me to know that the song is called The Cupid Shuffle, but it’s a little hard to miss it. The floor is thumping and the walls are shaking.
I did snag a sneek peek.
So it’s Tuesday at 3:19 pm. I’m typing this with blood red fingers, but I haven’t become a vampire. We’ll get to that later. Here’s the visit so far:
Monday: Ride up, 1½ hours from Bako using my daughter’s car so I can fit all six kids. Stop along the way for pictures pretending that Ali is driving and the kids are all over the car. Great fun. Daughter later emails to say don’t let kids climb on car again. I probably will because I’ll forget, and it is her oldest that gets the idea anyhow.
Realize I shouldn’t be wearing my Adam Lambert tee shirt and my two sizes too big pants because I look short and square and squat. Then I remember I am short and square and squat.
Unpack, go to Vons in Lake Isabella: the kids are divided into pairs, each pair responsible for one dinner. It isn’t easy to shop in three groups, keeping the groceries secret from the others! But we manage. The two boys, ages 8 and 12, wonder if watermelon goes with pizza. But they do have a great idea – do-it-yourself pizzas! A pizza bar bistro. As far as I am concerned, since the kids are doing dinners, anything goes with anything.
Cabin – afternoon movie. The four smaller ones watching the Incredibles with the two older ones upstairs watching Trading Places – rated R! Parental permission is obtained. Then we play Catchphrase. And dinner prep starts.
The two middle girls make Monday dinner – orange chicken, mashed potatoes, fruit salad, brownies with ice cream. Yum. Really good.
Then more catch phrase, and the dancing begins. Tons of fun.
To calm down the kids play Haha.
If you laugh, you are out. They are all, almost instantly, out.
Bedtime comes but sleep eludes me until about 2 am.
Tuesday: The kids are up early and five of them go out for a run. One reports that running up hills at 6,000 feet elevation is hard. I struggle downstairs, have two Starbucks doubleshots (from cans), a diet pepsi and some iced tea to no avail – still very very tired.
And besides a break so we can tie dye some shirts, the kids are dancing all day! Finally, I want my rooms back, I don’t want to listen to Cupid singing “To the right to the right, to the left to the left,” any more today. So the rooms are put back together and the Bakersfield Six zoom upstairs to play card games.
Looks like moving day.
Ok, the blood red fingers. I still have my black Glambert nail polish – it survives, but my hands don’t survive the tie dye kit. Really, I am expected to open the very small dye packets and pour the dye into the small bottles while wearing one-size-fits-giants gloves? I don’t think so. And in a frenzy of activity, after I explain the steps and ask that we please proceed in an orderly fashion so nothing gets spilled, trash bags are spread on the balcony, covered with paper towels, and the damp shirts are arrayed on top; designs are planned and rubber bands placed in strategic positions. I am still mixing dye. Somehow it all gets done, and besides my hands, the only other casualty is my shirt – it’s definitely an around-the-cabin shirt now. The yellow spots on the orange stripes can’t be considered intentional by any definition of bohemian or hippie or hip clothing. And despite repeated applications of lotion, I may shed a layer of skin.
A few more rounds of Catch Phrase and it’s time for the boys to start dinner. They use Boboli crusts, sauté yellow peppers and onions for toppings, slice tomatos and olives for more toppings, get out the sauce, pepperoni and cheese, and voila! A pizza bar is born. For dessert – milk shakes with four kinds of ice cream to choose from. The piece de resistance is a roll of Mentos for everyone – that they buy with their own money.
Then Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, which still entertains me mightily and my own children once had memorized.
The kids are tired - or are hating Bill and Ted.
My two youngest girls, when teenagers, actually dressed up in trench coats, took a video camera and microphone, and went to the Circle K, stopping patrons outside and asking them things like, “When did the Mongols invade China?”
So my nerves are frayed but I’m still holding it together, and suggest rather firmly that perhaps an early bedtime, or at least quiet time, is in order. No disagreement there, and this second day in the mountains with the Bakersfield Six is full of adventure and fun.
What I want out of this more than anything is, of course, that the kids have fun, but that they build good memories of times with Gramser and each other, and that we keep childhood as idyllic as possible for as long as possible. It’s a dream for me, to have these wonderful children and grandchildren.