"Hey, kids, let's go kidnap Grandmama."
The children greet this with cheers.
"Hold on, I have to find out where she is."
They pipe down, and I dial. It's winter, so I'm positive she's at home, but she might have ventured down the street to the grocery. Kidnap the Grandmama doesn't work if she has advance warning. She'll start kvetching about how tired she is and how she hates the cold.
She picks up the phone.
"What's up?" I ask.
The kids are giggling in the background and I make hush motions at them. This just inspires them to laugh harder, making choked snorting noises as they press their hands to their mouths to keep the giggles in.
"Just sitting at home. What's that noise?"
"That's just Stupid Dog. She's mad because I'm sitting beside the Long Suffering Husband again." Stupid Dog loves the LSH above all other living beings, and she likes nothing better than to cram herself into his lap and gaze at him with doggy devotion.
"You sure she's not choking on a bone or something?"
"I don't feed her table scraps."
As I engage Grandmama in idle chatter, I play charades with the kids, instructing them to put on their coats. This requires wild hand gestures on my part, and eye-rolling on the LSH's part.
We sprint to the car and head over the hill and through the woods. Meanwhile, I have Grandmama on the phone. It takes 25 minutes to reach Grandmama's house, but that's a brief conversation for her. I pull up, still on the phone. We get out of the car, pelt down the walk and throw open the front door - still on the phone.
The children throw themselves at her, screaming in delight.
"We're kidnapping you, Grandmama!" They try to peel her off the couch.
"I'm tired - "
"It's your day off, let's go." I appeal to Grampy Grumpy, "Dad, tell her she has to leave the house for something other than work or grocery shopping."
"You know how she is, she's a hermit. I can't do anything with her."
"C'mon, Mom, let's go to a movie."
"I'm old!" She isn't in her mid-50s, but she cherishes the fiction she's old. If she's going to embrace being an old lady, I wish she'd go the Ouiser Boudreaux route.
"I drove all the way down here and the kids are dying to spend the day with you. You don't want to disappoint them, do you?" I don't feel bad about playing the guilt card.
"Pleeeease Grandmama!" The kids do their best puppy-dog faces, which look less like they're sad and more like they just tasted something nasty.
She huffs and puffs, but we've already won. We go through the usual motions, but the kidnap is successful. We finally bundle her up and get her out to the car, although she hisses the entire way like an angry cat.
"You love spending time with the kids," I remind her.
She has her eyes shut and is clutching the dash because she hates my driving. "You could have just asked."
"Kidnapping you is spontaneous. Besides, if I had asked, you would have made an excuse."
She cracks an eye open to glare at me. "No I wouldn't."
"Yes, you would, Grandmama," the children chorus from the backseat.
"Just try to enjoy yourself," I suggest.
She shuts her eyes tight. "Right now, I'm just hoping we make it there in one piece." She strangles the dash. "This is why I never go anywhere with you."
(Wallace-Minger, The Weirton Daily Times community editor, is a Weirton resident and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)