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Tough pumpkin (10/24/2012)
By Frances Edstrom

I baby-sat for my granddaughters last Friday night at my house, where we had a “sleep-over.” We went out for dinner—grilled cheese and a small pepperoni pizza. Yes, I know, most people make those things at home. But they’re my grandchildren. Only the best for them!

At home we watched Little Einsteins. It’s a cartoon show that is supposed to be educational. They play classical music, tell you the meaning of various musical terms, and the cartoon backgrounds are copies of “great art.” My daughter Cassidy is very put off by the cartoon, but I don’t mind it. By the end of the DVD I am thoroughly sick of kids’ cute voices, though—except for my grandchildren’s, which are unusually pleasant.

We all went upstairs to get ready for bed. They did their washing-up and put on their pajamas, and then joined me in my bathroom. They stood beside me at the sink and watched, fascinated, as I removed my make-up, put on anti-aging moisturizer, and a little cream to cover some blemishes. (Does it ever end? Oops, bad question for someone my age.)

With my glasses off, I think I look pretty good. But Peyton piped up, “Fifi, (their name for me, not mine!) I saw on TV that there is something you can do to your skin that will make your face look like a child’s! Like mine!” She indicated her own face, which is without a wrinkle, blemish, or even a freckle.

“Really?” I said, as I could see Peyton’s little sister, Andie, scrutinizing my wrinkles, too.

“Yes. You could not have all those wrinkles!”

Thinking I would have a hard time getting to sleep if I pursued the subject further, I ushered them off to bed.

The next day, I was telling their dad, Dan, about Peyton’s ideas for my wrinkles. When she walked into the room moments after, he asked her, “Peyton, this getting rid of wrinkles, how do you do it?”

Without prefacing her answer with “Doh!”, she said, “Dad, I don’t know! You have to call the number on the screen right away!”

So, I am tantalized by the secret to eternal youth, but have no phone number. I did get some insight into which age group these television commercials are geared toward. Peyton is six.

On Sunday night, I was invited to their house to carve pumpkins. Pumpkin carving was a sacred event in our house when John was alive. He did it long after the kids grew up and moved out. We had to bring out photo albums so he could admire jack-o’-lanterns past, and take photos of the current year’s masterpiece.

I grabbed a knife and big spoon, and got right down to business, just not carving business. I tried to push a knife into the first pumpkin. No go. I got another knife. I couldn’t get it to even puncture the skin.

Morgan, thinking I was just an old weakling (this wasn’t a good weekend for my self-esteem), took the knife and gave it a try. After 15 minutes of trying, she had gotten as far as removing the top. “There’s no way I can carve a face on this thing,” she said.

Enter Dan, who took the knife from her. Now it was her turn to feel like a weakling. He gave it all he had and barely got the tip through the tough skin. He went to get his buck knife, and after a long, long time, managed to carve the face Peyton had drawn on the pumpkin.

Fortunately, the other two pumpkins were a snap to carve. Otherwise, I might have run out of wine.

We took the obligatory pictures, and now there are three jack-o’-lanterns on the front porch! I have been asked to hand out candy at their house, and now have company­—including one tough pumpkin—to protect me from those ghosts and goblins! 


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