Elastic Blastoff!


It all began with Elastic Blastoff! "Huh? What's that?" I can hear you asking. No one knows, really. It's just something our daughter shouted out before she ran from the kitchen to where my husband sat to put on his shoes before going to work. Every time she yelled these words, Tom braced himself for what was coming as little Katie ran full speed and jumped on his back. We don't know to this day, and neither does she, the reason she chose the words "Elastic blastoff!" but it's a cherished and sweet memory of her childhood. Thankfully, for his 60+-year-old back, our granddaughters have never attempted to continue this tradition.

We have other made-up games, however, that have been passed down through the years with much delight and giggling — and more than a little competition. One is Apartment Baseball. This began when we lived in Atlanta and consists simply of trying to hit a pitched "ball" made of foil or crumpled-up paper with our hands while sitting in a recliner. It is not as easy as you would think to hit such a lightweight item! The beauty of the game is you can play ball IN the house and nothing gets broken.

The more competitive game is the Restaurant Quarter Game. Tom and I invented this one during a longer-than-usual wait for our food. I remarked, "Let's see if we can slide a quarter to each other without having it fall off the table!" At first the game was played by awarding a point to the player whose quarter slid just over the lip of the table, but not off. Soon we noticed that a lot of tables had a line that came before the actual edge. So now we award one point if the quarter goes over that line, two points if it goes just over the lip but not off the table. The player with the most points when the food is delivered wins.

This seemingly simple game takes a lot of skill. You have to know just how hard or easy to slide the quarter forward to get it just over the line or the edge of the table. More often than not, that slippery sucker will fly right off the table! And then you have to be quick enough to catch it so it won't land on the floor. Our granddaughters make the silliest faces when they play this game, and we can get rowdy quickly. Try keeping that enthusiasm to a reasonable level of noise! That said, please do NOT play this game in fine dining establishments. Be sure you play it only in family-friendly places. Common courtesy must prevail at all times. Naturally, if sliding the quarter makes enough noise to bother other diners, don’t play it.

The competition is in in trying to get the most points and in being the one to do so before the food comes to the table. But good sportsmanship prevails and we always finish a round with "Good game, everyone!"

Our granddaughters practically live at the pool when they visit. Some of their favorite sports are swimming and basketball, so we combine the two with a floating basketball game. Both girls are Lakers fans and Grampy likes the Celtics. This drives the three of them crazy, of course, since the Lakers and Celtics are age-old rivals. As we shoot baskets, Jain and Sofia pretend to be Kobe Bryant and he is Larry Bird. Personally, I'd prefer to be Air Jordan, but he's never invited to this gig, so I have to be a Celtics player, too. It's all in good fun as we try to best one another in a competitive but friendly, and very wet, game of hoops.

And speaking of swimming pool fun, not all games are competitive. Some just require you to be a good sport. Case in point is last summer's visit to our friends' pool in Georgia. As I relaxed on the steps just inside the shallow end, the girls thought it would be great fun to create a new hairstyle for me. They wet my hair, pretended to shampoo and then style it so very lovingly. Yeah, right! You can see from the pictures accompanying this blog how hilarious they thought I looked. Ah, grandparenting! You just never know what to expect. And we wouldn't have it any other way.

I add games to my summer visit binder every year, but the ones the girls invent are always the best and most entertaining. What games do you play with your grandchildren? Please share your stories with us. We'd love to hear from you! Remember, no matter how or what you play, the important thing, as Grampy says, is to