I don’t know if you’ve had the pleasure of meeting Flat Stanley. He’s a children’s book character that resembles a cut out gingerbread cookie. I call him Paper Boy. Teachers have their primary grade students send multiple Paper Boys in envelopes to recipients who student’s parents know love the pupil. For a said period of time, these selected “guardians” will go to any extreme to make the children happy, have a camera, and will be willing to take Paper Boy with them no matter where they go and snap away. After the “vacation” is over, Paper Boy and pictures are returned to the teacher.
I spent enough years in front of a classroom to know Paper Boy’s travels are probably a great way to teach creative writing and/or geography. If my grandchild had sent me Paper Boy, I would follow the rules to a “T.” “T” stands for time. I learned when my sons were little, only their grandparents had unlimited time and patience for projects like Paper Boy. Nothing has changed. After one or two anecdotes, most other adults want to switch back to “business on hand.”
The first time I met Paper Boy, a friend had brought him to a women’s luncheon. After ten minutes of enduring Paper Boy’s caretaker posing him with each of us, and then making us snap pictures while she “fed” her charge, the women seated with me began to gently kick or poke each other under the table. Our attention had definitely waned. In the polite world, if Grandma doesn’t get the hint while she’s monopolizing the conversation about her brilliant offspring, the rest of us sit with Botox like smiles on our face while suppressing a yawn.
Fast forward five years. Paper Boy is once again making his rounds of South Florida. Thankfully, unlike the other Grammy, this new Gram obeys the unofficial “talking about your grandkid’s” time limit rule. After spending a few, and I mean few, minutes building Mah Jongg tiles like blocks, Paper Boy was tucked neatly into the side of Gram’s bag where he “napped” for the entire afternoon. Because he was so well behaved and didn’t annoy her peers the first time she brought him along, Gram let him come to a special birthday celebration held at a very, very well known Palm Beach Country Club last week. The doormen smiled as Paper Boy was posed at the entrance next to the name on the door. The hot son must have tired Paper Boy because he immediately wanted to nap in Gram’s oversized purse. After lunch, we toured the estate. The men’s room door was open (for cleaning), and the john, complete with gold plated plumbing, was quite visibly empty. This was a good thing because that’s when Paper Boy awoke and needed to “go.” The kind maintenance man let him use the facilities. A picture was snapped of Paper Boy standing at the urinal.
Now will said Grandma have the courage to send an “indecent” picture back with all the other ones she took showing how eclectic her life in Seniorville is? As of this writing, the retired teacher inside of her says it might cause her to be put in Grammy time-out for kind of making fun of a worthwhile project. What do you think?