When a grandson is five you know time is short. Very soon he’ll be joining the ranks of the fulltime student and life will never be the same again. Our boy, Grady, is already busy with hockey practices and games, swimming lessons, two days of kindergarten per week, play dates, and parties. No doubt, summer will bring soccer and tee ball practices.
Arranging for a sleepover at the farm takes much maneuvering: texts, phone calls and emails, calendar checking, and picking up and returning plans. So when Roy knew he’d be attending a conference at Fantasyland Hotel in Edmonton, he suggested we try to arrange a sleepover at the hotel. It was genius considering that the hotel is part of West Edmonton Mall that is home to a huge indoor amusement park called Galaxyland.
So after Greg dropped Grady off we headed to the food court for a quick bite. Then because the fifty dollars (twenty-five from dad, twenty-five from us) was burning a hole in his Spiderman wallet we headed to the toy department at Target. You had to know he’d be leaving with a Lego set. He also bought a shield/slingshot/arrow type thing on sale. Before heading back to the room we checked every cage and tank at the pet store near the hotel. His favourite creature was a salamander because they have one living under their deck. The hamsters make my skin crawl but that’s another story.
It is a grandparent’s sworn duty to stretch bedtime to the breaking point so we did. He wasn’t about to leave the Lego kit for morning. By ten he was out like a light.
In the morning we amused ourselves with a few games of Go Fish. He was thrilled to kick Nana’s butt in each one. He squirmed and giggled as I made him promise he’d never tell a soul so I’m sure everyone knows by now. We made art using the dollar store version of Spirograph. Using a series of cogged circles and rings and different coloured pens we were able to create beautiful mandalas. We played a rousing game of Balloon. Batting it, chasing it, keeping it airborne burnt off his energy and had both of us laughing.
Finally it was time. We had to set some ground rules first. He had to clearly understand that my constitution doesn’t allow me to go on rides. I had to explain, more than once, that I couldn’t do it with my kids and I can’t with him. And besides, would he want me to vomit all over the attendant?
Hell, I got nauseated going through the haunted house with him. He went on all the rides that his height and lack of adult companion permitted. He rejected the ’baby’ rides. He played Whack-a-Mole and redeemed his earned coupons for toy soldiers.
He had hours of fun and I got the chance to spend a couple of fun days with him?before it’s too late, from where I sit.
Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites..