MUTUALLY SYMBIOTIC

The limbic system has always fascinated me. It functions twenty-four hours a day from birth and never stops unless we are on the brink of death, or hanging around two-year-olds. My medulla must have told me to travel with one of my granddaughters who has such active stimuli, probably so she could keep me young and lively. Yet the release of dopamine in my brain may have been the real cause of that decision. The trip was inspired largely by my dad’s ninety-fifth birthday, and I flew my daughter and her two youngsters to his home in Florida for the celebratory event. I hadn’t forgotten what it was like traveling with a toddler. But I’m a grandmother. So I’m bound to radiate a deep and meaningful attachment to my grandchildren. I’ve had insane urges before to blast through the air inside a pressurized cylindrical transporter with a tot who wanted to roam freely. That’s one reason why I have limited brain cells left. Although the fact that some jellyfish live potentially forever without brains gave me hope.

The adventure began at the airport scanner when it viewed us as potentially harmful after seeing all our weapons of mass obstruction. Surely two oppressed women carrying a newborn, a toddler, purses, backpacks, a diaper and bottle bag, strollers, and car seats, aren’t exactly capable of starting a revolution. Although if they had given the kids a sniff test, it would have clearly indicated that they were hazardous and carrying something lethal in their diapers. They called little miss poopy pants over for a cavity search and the elderly lady next to us wondered how they could possibly sense tooth decay in a child that small.  Without the slightest hope of finding something that would pose a threat to national security, we were cleared to board the plane. I was surprised though, when my purse contents included sharp crayons and ear popping Bazooka (bubble gum). The scan also detected that some of my cerebral components were missing, and that I wasn’t a natural redhead. But they let us board anyway.

While a substantial portion of my mental machinery seems to be flittering away, I wasn’t easily outwitted. Holding onto this wiggle worm was like holding onto a washer during its spin cycle. With affectionate eye contact, my soothing variety of logic, and octopus arms, I was able to keep her within my reach. The flight crew became completely obsessed with my chatty little charmer’s whimsical brew of adorableness and sparkle, and dished out praise like it was a bunch of Tootsie Pops. You would have thought a young Shirley Temple had made an appearance, because she was quite good at making a theater out of an airplane cabin. Snookums was at her best when stopping at each and every seat saying “hi” to passengers, and proceeding at the pace of an animated tortoise… causing malignant brain humor. One flight attendant exchanged names with her and turned saying, “She called me eggroll. Carol was just too difficult!”

To keep the line going, another hostess rivaled that of a cattle herder when she said, “Move it on out.” I wanted to tell her that I have a yearling on my hands who is still in the early stages of listening maturity, and that the baby-centric flying experience requires patience. Apparently the aviatrix wasn’t aware that some of us need to emphatically express ourselves. My spicy lil’ pepper did test me though once we were seated. We only had to ask her multiple times to keep her seat belt fastened, and she was still hungry after discarding the snacks she’d refused to eat the first fifty times they were offered to her. Then again, airlines should be supplying something ideally suited for any sweetheart. Like Teddy Grahams, popsicles, sensory toys for children’s amusement, assorted Godiva chocolates, and heated massage pads. I’m sure my cuddlebunny’s occipital cortex craved cupcakes, and a mini McDonald’s play yard. Her phooey parietal instantly rejected the healthy oats & honey bar they had to offer, whereas both my daughter and I would have instantly accepted wine when they offered. Except that it was ten in the morning. Every area of our cranium’s warned us about being good role models.

My wiggly seatmate accepted pretzels, and I wanted to confirm that acceptance in the presence of a licensed notary. There’s no doubt my punkin-wunkin is the slyest and most tiring person whom I can’t imagine my life without. This pride and grand source of joy did make the cerebral mistake of diving for dropped pretzels on the cabin floor where there could be parasitical life. Who knows where the millions of previous shoes have been. I would never do that, so I wondered what was connecting us molecularly, and I wanted to do a paternity test. I told her, “Your Nana needs the remaining nuclei within her temporal lobe. So work with me here, won’tcha?” Toddlers can sometimes make you feel like you are violating their sacred sanctorium and they would rejoice in seeing you terminated. I issued her affectionate invitations to stop those infantile spasms and sit still. In order to successfully pass ancestral instruction on to grandkids, they must survive long enough to reach a productive age where they can pass that same instruction on to their own feral offspring.

Lovebug did have the in-flight-film-fondness lobe that kept her silent for at least five minutes. And the Play-Doh oblongata spurred motivation to ram the rubbery stuff into every crack and crevice in our row. She was definitely a good candidate for a hyperbaric chamber. I was worried that the flight crew would see the mess and start experiencing skeletal difficulties. The children’s bladders failed a few times, and I had to turn my lap into a changing table where I was able to boast about booty squirts. Every passenger must have wondered when shitake mushrooms and horseradish became kid food, and they had the option to pull down their oxygen masks. I knew to wait until I got off the plane before yelling back, “Sorry about the smells, and the forty specks of colorful modeling compound stuck to seat 27E.” I was hoping that within the olfactory of every crew member were discreet spheres of nerve tissue and blind spots. My daughter and I were fearful that at the end of the flight, people would be giving us the stink eye or commenting on the kiddie commotion. We had our cerebellums ready to discharge any accusations aimed at us. But everyone said how great the kids were.

Yet it’s no accident that Snuggles and I both come from the same genetic landscape. Analyzing the genes in our chromosomes, I’d say both our parents had a wild night of playing around and therefore birthed a couple of crazies. Whoever said that grandbabies get 99 percent nonsense from their grandmothers was right. She too would rather jump wildly on couch cushions and eat chocolate all day than sit in a rocking chair munching on broccoli. My granddarling and I simply abide by Cyndi Lauper’s theory that “girls just wanna have fun.” We like joy riding and being silly, and both of us have grown two pajama sizes since last night. There’s only one difference between us. It wasn’t that long ago that I looked like a fairly intact mother of three, and now I resemble a battered piñata that has been disfigured and is spilling its guts. She on the other hand, is perfect in every way. As far as I am concerned, she has won the genetic lottery and I could write for days about her lovable antics that cycle uncontrollably through my head.

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