My husband Tom and I recently hit the road for Houston to attend a grandchild’s first birthday party and to celebrate Father’s Day with the fam. We invited one of the other grandpups, L_________, to accompany us on the great adventure. Although she had spent the night with us on many occasions, this would be the first time she would be alone with us for two days while so far away from her parents. For any four year old, this was a lot to consider. I left the choice completely up to her but did my best to make it all sound so appealing that she couldn’t possibly refuse.
“Do you want to go with Gay Gay and T Daddy to A_________’s birthday party? There will be cake and ice cream and a jumpy thing! We can stay in a hotel and have breakfast brought to us in the room. Doesn’t that sound like fun? Want to come?”
She paused and pondered quietly until she gently cut her eyes in my direction. “Will the hotel have a pool?” she asked, clearly prepared to negotiate.
Knowing that at that point, there was no hotel reservation at all I enthusiastically assured her, “Oh yes! A big pool! And the room is waaaaay up high. We will be able to see all the cars and trees from up high!” She mused for a minute or two before she responded coyly and simply, “OK.”
I delivered the victory news to Tom who happily took over the responsibility of choosing an appropriate hotel…..with a pool. And rooms way up high. So a few days later, as the sun was rising, off we went with L____________, DVDs to fill five hours, assorted snacks, tiny bottles of water, bathing suits, floaties, party clothes, a blankie and a soft little bear. An adventure!
We drove straight to the party, which was classic and perfect, then headed to the Hotel Za Za to check in and hit the pool. Houston friends, along with their daughter, who also attended the party were to join us shortly, at the pool. Sure enough, Tom had arranged for a room way up high. Check! Lots of cars and trees below. Check! We changed into our suits, loaded up our gear and practically danced our way to the pool on the second floor. When the elevator doors opened, L___________could hardly contain herself for the excitement. We could already hear loud music and laughter along with splashes. When we opened the door to the pool, I was a little taken back, for there were no other children around except the two who were with us. There were, however, hoards of glamorous tanned hard bodied young men and women in designer swim wear and Bulgari bangles that gleamed as much as the oiled bodies that displayed them. High heels with bikinis. You know the look. I felt as though I had entered a singles hotel in South Beach. Next to these jet setters, we were the Clampets and I was Granny. But there we were as promised, at THE POOL. And it wasn’t as though we were doing anything illegal or even ethically questionable. We were simply out of place, but sometimes that place can be just fine regardless of the awkwardness, so into the water we went floaties and all. Like bees to honey it wasn’t long before the two children were the main attraction. Glamourpuss women were all over them. “Oh! She is adorable! Oh! Arent’ they cute??!! Oh, I want one some day! Oh! How old are they??! Oh! Look at her little tummy? Don’t you just love it?!! Oh! Oh! Oh!” Blah, blah, blah through a rum and pineapple haze. And so on and so one and so on. Rhythmic hip hop blaring, we swam. L_________ and her little buddy F_____________ were the stars but soon L____________ had a concern.
“Gay Gay, no one else is wearing floaties. Do they think I am a baby? I wanna take them off.”she declared as she began to tug at the puffy donuts encasing her upper arms.
“No way, L______. Sorry sweetie, but they keep you safe. And hey, they match your suit. Very fashionable, you know what I am saying? You are soooooo fashionable.” She wasn’t buying it.
“But nobody else has them. NOBODY.” Tears were waiting in the wings. I could sense it so I tried to distract her.
“Well, let’s look very carefully at everyone (this would take a while and she would forget her shame). I’ll just bet someone else at this pool is wearing floaties. With all these people (this would take a while)? Let’s look carefully and find one other person with floaties.” So we began to look. This went on for about two minutes before L______________ exclaimed,” Look Gay Gay! That lady has floaties! Big ones!” Seriously? I was astounded as I searched for the adult with the water wings.
“Where, Lil? Which lady?” I still did not see the big floaties.
“There! Her! In the pink bathing suit with the black fingernails! HER!” She frantically pointed. They are inside her bathing suit! The top part! See! SEE??!!” And then I saw her. A woman whose bathing suit top could look, to a child ,as if it contained floaties. Jumbo floaties. Fortunately, all the fascination over the children had faded into old news so no one noticed the priceless moment that was poking fun at all the glamour surrounding us.
“See?? SEE!???” She begged.
“You are right L____________. That lady has floaties hidden in her bathing suit. You are right. See? Someone else IS wearing them. Not just you.” L____________quietly stared at the woman in the pink bathing suit for a few seconds. She was satisfied and thoughtful about it all. She was peaceful again, so I was too. Then she sweetly offered a tip.
“You should get some floaties like that Gay Gay. To keep you safe. T Daddy would buy them for you. I know he would.”
“Yes, L_____________. You are probably right. I’ll just bet he would.” Yup. I’ll just bet he would.