and other adventures in grandparenting.

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Photo by one-handed Nonni

When I retired from teaching after almost thirty years with young children, it was because my daughter was about to have a baby and I wanted to take care of her. I had raised my own three children while teaching full time and had never had the chance to stay at home with babies.

So I said goodbye to finger paints, children's’ books, art projects, and outside play. And jumped into a life of finger paints, children’s’ books, art projects, and outside play.

I was pretty much in my element.

I’ve been the Nonni in Chief for four years now. My little Ellie had grown into a happy, chatty four-year-old and has been joined by a two-year-old brother.

My life is fun.

I’m 63 years old, and I still get to watch Disney movies. (Sure, sometimes we watch the same movie 8765 times, but whatever. It’s all good.) I have gray hair, jowls, and wrinkles, but I still get to dress up and dance around my house like a fool. I have been known to have ice cream for lunch.

Pretty sweet gig, right?

But it’s not all fun and games here in the world of toddler daycare.

Take this morning, for example. We were playing with a box full of trolls, handed down to the kids from their older cousin. We were dressing trolls in dresses, hats, skirts and tiny mermaid suits.

All was joy and happiness until my dog, Bentley, decided to join the game. He grabbed a beautiful troll with hot pink hair and a sparkly pink belly button. Before we could get him to “drop it!”, he had chewed off her hair and half of one foot.

I managed to rescue the troll, but the wailing and gnashing of teeth were definitely dramatic.

After calming the kids down (yay, cookies!!!!), I took the mangled troll into the kitchen and grabbed my handy dandy container of Gorilla Glue Gel. I squeezed and shook and eventually forced a few drops of glue onto the troll’s truncated little foot. Then I very carefully placed the front of the foot in place.

There was a pretty gnarly scar in view, but I figured the kids could accept that as long as I made up a good adventure story to explain it.

“Once upon a time, a happy kingdom was invaded by a big black labrador-basset hound monster……”

The foot surgery was complete, so I turned my attention to the scalp of the troll, which was now glaringly lacking in hot pink hair. I had managed to salvage the hair and had washed out most of the dog spit, so I thought we could make things right.

I carefully fitted the four inches of fake pink hair onto the gaping open head of the troll. Seeing that it would fit back snugly, I grabbed my glue once again. I shook, squeezed and spread the clear gel all around the edges of the place where a brain would be if trolls had brains. I gently lowered the pink puff onto the narrow bead of glue.

Because I am a good dooby, I followed the directions on the bottle and held the hair in place for 30 seconds.

Then I let go.

Sort of let go.

I mean, I tried to let go.

But I found that middle finger, the one that hadn’t been anywhere the hair or the glue, had become attached to the tiny plastic butt of the damaged troll.

I shook. I pulled. I tried to pry the troll panties off of my finger.

I got nowhere.

Before I could think clearly, I had used my forefinger to brace against the back of the troll as I yanked on her butt.

And you guessed it.

I was now glued to the troll by two fingers.


I must have made a sound, because the kids came rushing into the kitchen.

“What’s wrong, Nonni?” asked Ellie. “Did you save the troll?”

“What wong, Nonni? Save twoll?” echoed her brother.

I wasn’t sure what to say, but this was not my first rodeo. I managed to smile as I held up my left hand, the mangled troll hanging from my fingers.

“Sure I saved her!”, I chirped. “I just have to get her off my fingers!”

Hahahaha. So funny.

I knew that I could save the situation, though, because I knew that a simple application of nail polish remover would cut through the glue and set both me and the troll free from our sudden connection.

I put on my serene grandmother face and walked into my bedroom. I opened my closet and pulled down the basket full of nail salon implements. I took it into the kitchen and placed it on the table.

“Don’t worry,” I assured the kids, as they gaped at the image of the pink tufted troll hanging from my hand. “I can get it off!”

I used my one working hand to dig through the basket, pulling out the bottle of nail polish remover. I took off the cap. The bottle felt…..a little bit light….

And…..yep. It was empty.

Empty, as in, there isn’t even a drop inside.

I shook the bottle, peered into the bottle, and eventually recycled the bottle.

All with a troll attached by both butt and hair to the fingers of my left hand.

I took a deep breath.

Ellie and Johnny were staring at me with serious brown eyes. Johnny looked worried. Ellie looked skeptical.

“I’ll get more from the closet,” I said firmly.

I went to the closet, opened the door, rummaged one-handed through the bottles of cough syrup, the bandaids, the cold tablets, the laxatives.

No nail polish remover.


Not in the bathroom. Not in the kitchen. Not in the hall closet or the basement or any old pocketbook.



I looked at the kids. The kids looked at me. The pink-haired troll looked at the floor, because she was dangling by her hair and her buttocks.

“Now what?” asked Ellie.

I had no idea. But this was a serious situation. I don’t have new car seats yet, so I couldn’t just head off to CVS.

I did what any experienced childcare person would do in an emergency situation.

“Who wants to watch a movie?!!” I asked.

When the kids were settled in front of “Frozen,” I went into the kitchen. I used hot water, soap, vinegar, tweezers and a brillo pad.

After a half-hour, the troll was free of my fingers, as well as some of her glow-in-the-dark pink hair. My left hand was free of the troll butt and troll head, as well as a whole boatload of skin.

I placed the troll back in the box with the rest of her family. I rubbed some vitamin E oil into my torn up fingers and got ready to make lunch.

I pulled out everything I’d need and gave a big sigh.

“Huh,” I thought. “I hope the kids will eat peanut butter and jelly with pink troll hair.”

Written by

A Mother, a grandmother, a progressive voter. I write because it’s getting harder to march and because words are my only weapon. I blog at

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