Camp Grandma July 12, 2015
My Mom is not that old, considering how old I am and how old her grandchildren are. I won’t tell you how old she is, for fear that she reads this and cuts me out of the will, but suffice it to say that it has not yet been a decade since she threw herself a toga party to celebrate her first Social Security check. (Seriously.)
My Mom is a tightly wound ball of creative energy. She is incapable of sitting still. Despite the six or so decades between her age and my children’s, the Dufflets have trouble keeping up with her. Anyone who can’t keep up with her, which is everyone, is immediately designated “lazy” or “boring” or, worse, “not helpful.”
My Mom is the woman Pinterest was designed for. She happily spends hours searching things like “Recycled Garden Art” and then pins them to her wall, only to be unable to ever find the pins again because she doesn’t entirely know how to work her computer. But she will call me and tell me to look at her Pinterest account to see what she pinned because she needs me to save the raw materials for the projects.
Mom is convinced that the only things you should buy for arts and crafts projects are glue and paint, with the occasional ball of twine thrown in for good measure. And you’d better have a 60% off coupon for Joann’s when you go in there, because the idea of paying full retail is as repugnant to her as broccoli is to your average toddler. Everything else should come from your recycling bin. Or your neighbor’s recycling bin (picked through after dark with a flashlight.) Or a nearby dumpster. Or, if she’s lucky and can convince my father to stop the car, the side of the highway.
This past week, my parents came up to Georgia from Florida for their annual summer pilgrimage to see their grandchildren. I had been instructed to save plastic bottles, especially the colored ones like laundry detergent bottles, lids of all kinds, soda cans, plastic spoons, and egg cartons. By the time my parents arrived, I had several garbage bags full. (p.s. I didn’t save enough to prevent my mother from convincing a friend of mine to take her to the dump to get more cans.)
Within ten minutes of her arrival, Camp Grandma was open for the season. It begun with a demonstration of what we were to make as well as a Pinterest slide show. She had roses made of the bowls of plastic spoons, pigs made of milk bottles, and wild daisies made of Arizona Iced Tea cans. She had rebar to make totem poles.
Under the theory that my mother raised me just fine, and loved my children too much to let any harm come to them, I excused myself and let the kids enjoy themselves at camp. It was only ten minutes before my son came to me with a bloody paper towel pressed to his hand and a grin on his face. “Mom!” He said. “Look at the flower I made out of a Coke can! And I only lost a pint of blood.”
Any thought that I might actually get work done while the kids were occupied was quickly dispelled. I was sent on regular missions to get various sizes of bandages, candles, shopping bags of different colors, Elmer’s glue, paper plates, fishing line, and told to continue to drink Arizona iced tea since both the cans and bottles were ideal for projects.
The intensity was impressive. They made a garden of flowers out of sticks, soda cans, and plastic lids. They made a totem pole of pigs. They made a bit of abstract art we’re calling “Sputnik” and a wind sock of sorts. They made an impressive mess and used several bottles of paint.
Most of all, they made memories. My Mom is getting older and, while she isn’t slowing down and hasn’t quit smoking, her health fails little by little. Her back hurts. She has a nasty permanent cough. She’s partially blinded from a stroke, and has about seven million stents in her heart. She’s not going to be around forever, but while she’s here, she’s setting one heck of an example. Don’t let handicaps stop you from having fun. Don’t let a few cuts on your fingers affect the finished project. And, most importantly, choose your laundry detergent based upon the color of the bottle.
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Lori B. Duff is an award-winning author who practices law on the side. Her latest book, “If You Did What I Asked in the First Place” was awarded the Gold Medal for humor in the Foreword INDIES awards in 2019. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here. If you want Lori to help you market your book, click here.