Jerry Zezima, a Newsday assistant editor who writes a nationally syndicated humor column for his hometown paper, The
Over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house we go.
My granddaughter, Chloe, doesn't have to take such a circuitous route to visit her grandmother, who also happens to be my wife, Sue, because our house is on a residential street and, besides, at 15 months old, Chloe can't drive.
But she knows how to babysit Sue when she comes over because I got her a new book called, appropriately enough, "How to Babysit a Grandma."
The book, a New York Times bestseller, was written by Jean Reagan, who authored last year's kiddie hit "How to Babysit a Grandpa," which has been enormously helpful to both me and Chloe because I am, at this point, less mature than she is.
Sue, who should be the subject of a book titled "How to Babysit a Husband" because without her I would be either dead or in prison, loves the grandma book.
"It's adorable," she told me after reading it.
"How to Babysit a Grandma," delightfully illustrated by Lee Wildish, opens with a little girl's parents dropping her off at her grandmother's house.
"When you babysit a grandma, if you're lucky ... it's a sleepover at her house," it begins. "What should you do when you get to her door? Put on a disguise and say, 'GUESS WHOOOOOO?' "
The girl is shown wearing a Groucho Marx disguise.
"That's what I am going to get for Chloe," I told Sue.
"Don't you dare," she retorted.
The best part of the book is "How to Keep a Grandma Busy."
Among the suggestions: "GO TO THE PARK. Bake snickerdoodles. Have a costume parade. GO TO THE PARK to feed the ducks. Do yoga. Look at family pictures. GO TO THE PARK to swing. ... GO TO THE PARK to slide. ... GO TO THE PARK to take photos."
"Chloe loves it when I take her to the park," Sue said.
"You mean when she takes you," I corrected.
"Right," said Sue. "She especially loves the slide and the swings."
The next part of the book is about the sleepover, which features lots of fun things for the girl and her grandma to do, such as making dinner ("Add sprinkles to anything") and finding places to sleep ("In a tent, on the floor, on the couch").
The final part takes place the next morning, when it's time to leave.
"How to Say Goodbye to a Grandma: Let her borrow some sprinkles, some books, some stickers, some ribbons. Say 'I love you!' without making a sound. Give her a BIG hug and ask, 'When can I babysit you again?' "
"I'm glad your wife liked the book," Reagan said when I called her to talk about it. "I wanted to make the grandma fun, as I'm sure Sue is. And I know Chloe thinks you're fun."
"She sure does," I replied. "People have often asked me if I spoil her. I say no, that's Sue's job. My job is to corrupt her. I told Sue I'm going to get Chloe the Groucho disguise. She didn't think it was a good idea. But when Chloe gets a little older, I am going to introduce her to the Marx Brothers and the Three Stooges."
Chloe already loves books, even though she can't read yet. So Sue and I read to her when she comes over or when we go to her house.
I haven't read either of my books to Chloe, because they are below her intellectual level, but I did read both the grandpa and grandma books to her recently.
"What did she think?" asked Reagan, who is not a grandma yet.
"She loved them," I said. "She pointed to the slide and the swings in the grandma book. But for some reason, she seemed to understand that the grandpa needed a little more help."
"Next time she comes over," Reagan suggested, "she can help Sue babysit you."