Mad About the Boy

Marcy O’Brien

Camp GoGo is a private camp that is open only one week a summer. This is the week.

Malcolm, my 11-year-old grandson is the only attendee and he received a full scholarship to attend. He’s very talented.

Regular readers of this column know that my grandmother name is GoGo and I have two perfect grandchildren. Keira, the Princess of Boston, and Malcolm, AKA Mr. Smiles, live far away from me in the Kingdom of Massachusetts. Our family works hard to traverse those 525 miles about a half dozen times a year . . . in both directions.

But it’s not the same as being together, every day, one-on-one. At 525 miles away you miss so much.

I have to admit that when I go in the Boston direction, there’s no shortage of fun things for me to do in between the demands of the children’s everyday lives. I get to shop, go to concerts, museums, dine out on exotic foods and meet my daughter’s nifty friends.

The kids? I see them after school, during or after soccer practice, play practice, singing rehearsals or bass fiddle lessons. We attend church together and meet at the supper table. Their everyday young lives are whirlwinds. My wind doesn’t whirl as fast as it used to.

This summer my breathless little GoGo voice tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Hey, dummy, you’re retired. You have time now to have one of the kids stay after the July visit!” I listened to the voice.

And thankfully, their parents agreed. Realizing that Keira is now 14 and will slip through my fingers too soon in the future, I assumed she was the logical choice. She had visited once, having flown here alone at age eight. But Malcolm never had, and he often visits with his retired New York City Grandpa. I realized that before I lose him to strictly guy stuff, now was definitely the time. . .while he’s still a boy. Without my job commitment, he and I could savor some total ordinary days, not just a few stolen hours. And we could still throw in some fun, even if it’s not Times Square or Sushi Bar type of fun.

While the whole family was still here, we played Scattergories – a fun thinking and word game. In a family of dedicated game players, and we’re talking regular two-day historic war games here, Malcolm has always excelled at both the imagination and tactical aspects of game playing – as much as any adult. But what I have been more impressed with is that although he sometimes wins, he has learned from this gamesmanship to be a gracious loser. He’s easygoing. He doesn’t whine. He’s downright philosophical – and often funny about it. He smiles a lot. I took him everywhere.

He manned the cat carrier as we took Finian to the vet for his annual checkup and shots. He accompanied me to the physical therapist – and not just the waiting room. He mostly read his book but paid close attention to the technical stuff too. I was puffy-chest proud when I introduced him to Andy, the therapist. Malcolm stuck out his hand and said, “It’s nice to meet you.”

Just as we were leaving he thanked Andy (I guess for letting him stay) and told him again, “It was a pleasure to meet you.” Whew. I was loving this kid more every hour.

He helped me select a few bushes I needed for the yard and then carried and loaded them. He hefted the heavy 2-gallon watering can again and again across the backyard as we fertilized the gardens together. Each night that we ate at home, Malcolm set the dinner table, even lighting the candles, without being asked. And he both loaded and unloaded the dishwasher.

And just so this doesn’t sound like he has become an indentured servant, we did share some fun experiences this week. We picked strawberries together and saw two movies including “Jaws” on the big screen at the theatre. Jeopardy! watching is an every night routine for Malcolm so we watched the recording together even after “Jaws” pushed it past his bedtime. Hey, what happens at GoGo’s stays at GoGo’s.

Malcolm joined me some during my dedication to Breakfast at Wimbledon screen time. We went to the Plaza for lunch and to Mayville for an afternoon on the Chautauqua Belle. Friday and Saturday wrap up the week at Niagara Falls including the Maid of the Mist, a fun dinner out and a hotel overnight near the airport.

He jogs every other morning on a route that he and his dad worked out as both safe and the right length. He swims every other day, even remembering his sunscreen. And he has spent many attentive moments with his furry, feline friend, Finian

Wade-a-minit! Why does this perfect boy have to go home? He could go to school here.

He’s absolutely no trouble and he eats everything–even helping with the cooking process. His favorite meal is lamb chops, Brussels sprouts and lemon cake. Why don’t I call Jet Blue and cancel his flight to Boston? – I would LOVE him to stay.

Oh. Yeah. Right. His family.They like him too. They’d get all crazy if he didn’t come home. Well it was a great thought. It’s been a wonderful week that I don’t want to end.

As I write this he’s packing his suitcase upstairs. I’m sure he’ll also plunk in his reading alcove with his current book – a true-life adventure about mountain climbing, another of the family’s hobbies.

Malcolm and I are heading this afternoon to visit an old friend whose quirky, fascinating house is in the woods. Back home, we’re going to make meatloaf together for our last dinner at GoGo’s.

Yesterday we had ice cream after our Chautauqua Belle excursion. A piece of blackberry pie was waiting in the fridge with his name on it for after dinner. He hesitated. “But that would be two desserts in one day and I really shouldn’t . . . .”

“Stop,” I said. “GoGo has different rules. This is summer. It’s un-American not to eat ice cream on a beautiful, sunny day here in God’s country.” He looked at me, shrugged his shoulders while grinning as wide as double butterscotch sundae. He got it.

“And besides” I continued, “what happens at GoGo’s stays at GoGo’s.”

Strawberry shortcakes are following tonight’s meatloaf. Boy food is highly rated at Camp GoGo.