Just got back from a three-day visit to my parents' 'Winter Home' in beautiful, bustling, only slightly overrun by buffets, dollar stores and decidedly creepy looking out-buildings Wildwood, FL.
Rollie and Elsa LOVE visiting their Nana and Pop-pop. They look forward to going for weeks, and when the joyous day finally arrives, they clamor excitedly into the car, swing their legs in anticipation, and don't even start whining for a full ten minutes into the trip. Their excitement stems from the fact that Nana and Pop-pop will laugh at antics that make my eyes roll so often my children think the irises aren't blue but in fact a slightly pinkish shade of white. Nana and Pop-pop find the entertaining hilarity in Elsa's Ovaltine escapades, or Rollie's incessant line of 'what-if's', or my own exasperated responses to each child's bid for attention. Nana and Pop-pop have already been there, done that, their own energies sapped long ago. Now my arrival is a sort of Punch and Judy show for their enjoyment...kind of like when spectators watched gladiators ward of lions and tigers. No doubt it's pretty amusing to see their youngest daughter barefoot and pregnant and running herself ragged to keep her own daughter from testing the tensile strength of Nana's antique tea set. And when needed, my parents did a good job of interjecting their own brand of discipline...in the form of Pop-pop threatening to remove his baseball cap and expose his bald head to the transgressor. Worked every time.
One good thing about going to Nana and Pop-pop's house is that my children have pretty much free reign over the entire estate. The estate here being the glorified double-wide, the sunporch and the carport. My mother doesn't mind when Rollie loudly slams his cars into each other all over her nice wooden floor. My father thinks it's riot when Elsa pounds out a few chords on his piano with her sticky fingers, or plays Hide The Cell Phone, Hide The Remote, and his personal favorite, Hide Nana's Reading Glasses. And they both got an enormous kick out of the look on my face when I pulled into their driveway after a few hours of leaving the kids in their charge and found my children, clad in nothing but undies, a sopping wet diaper and their respective crocs, squealing and ducking from the spray of Nana's garden hose. At least I didn't have to give them a bath that night.
And of course, one of the visit's highlights was going on one of Nana's Famous Treasure Hunts. Although I'm beginning to think of them more as Nana's Famous Half-Hour Spent Digging Around In Dirt And Unearthing Everything Except What Nana Buried There A Mere Twenty Hours Ago. My mother, God bless her, kept leading a treasure hunt pep rally for Elsa and Rollie, asking them if they were excited to go on the treasure hunt, and telling them she'd apparently heard tell of treasure-discarding activity going on in the woods nearby, and that we needed to take a golf-cart ride there post-haste and see what loot awaited us.
Pop-pop, armed with the metal detector, swept the ground where Nana could have sworn Native Americans used to play with Matchbox cars and pennies from 1992, and the fun commenced. What began as a simple excursion to collect some of Pop-pop's sock-drawer change turned into a heated spelling bee between my parents:
Nana: Rollie, why don't you start digging here?
Rollie crouched on the ground and proceeded to paw at the ground with his bare hands like a fox digging up a dead muskrat.
Pop-pop: Move over Rol, let me check. Sound of metal detector beeping, indicating we were burning-hot-close to a surprise.
Nana: I'm pretty sure this is where I B-U-R-I-E-D it.
Pop-pop: This says there's something right H-E-R-E.
Nana: This should be where the A-I-R-P-L-A-N-E is.
Pop-pop: Keep digging, Rollie.
Me (noticing the amount of dirt amassing under my son's nails and getting really grossed out): Um, can't you guys use the shovel?
Nana (digging half-heartedly at the loose soil and dead leaves): Try again, Hon.
Pop-pop sweeps the ground again, metal detector beeping insistently now.
Me: There's definitely something there.
Nana: The shovel is hitting something.
Pop-pop leans down and pulls up what looks like a wheel off a dirty old roller skate.
Rollie: Wow....Is it treasure?
Me: Maybe if you're a Xanadu fan.
Pop-pop: Are you S-U-R-E this is it where you B-U-R-I-E-D it?
Nana: Yes. I even put S-T-I-C-K-S to M-A-R-K it.
Pop-pop: There are S-T-I-C-K-S all over the P-L-A-C-E.
Nana: Not like the ones I P-U-T there.
Pop-pop: You're like an amnesiac S-Q-U-I-R-R-E-L.
Nana: Oh, S-H-U-T-U-P.