Grandchildren? For the most part during the pandemic, baby boomers can only see them on a computer screen. Tribune News Service of Chicago humor columnist Jerry Zezima has figured out, though, how to make the best of it.
If there’s one good thing that can be said about the pandemic (the bad things can’t be repeated here), it’s that it has kept me off the streets.
That means, unfortunately, that I can’t get out to see my grandchildren. So I have stayed home and become a TV star.
“The Poppie Show,” named for me because all five kids call me Poppie (adults call me things that also can’t be repeated here), airs regularly on FaceTime. It’s an interactive, on-demand program that allows me and the children to see each other, something we haven’t done in person, in the case of the youngest three, for more than a year.
What’s worse is that the youngest two are twins who are a year and a half old, so it will give you some idea of what I have been missing.
The same goes for my wife, Sue, whom the kids call Nini. She’s sometimes a guest on “The Poppie Show.” It helps boost the ratings.
One recent episode began when I got a call from our older daughter, Katie, who said that Zoe, one of the twins, was saying “Poppie” and wanted to see me.
Zoe popped up on the phone screen with a big smile.
“Hi, Zoe!” I gushed, smiling back at her. “It’s Poppie!”
Katie held up a family photo collage and asked Zoe, “Where’s Poppie?”
Zoe pointed to my picture and said, “Poppie!”
Her younger (by 25 minutes) brother, Quinn, also popped up on the screen, flashing a big smile. He said my name, too.
“They’ve joined the Cult of Poppie,” said Katie, whose son Xavier has been a member for all of his nearly 4 years.
Xavier recently sent me an original artwork for my birthday. Before that, he sent me another watercolor he made all by himself. It’s modern art, so I don’t know exactly what is depicted, but both pieces are beautiful. Since I don’t have enough postage to donate them to the Louvre, I taped them to the wall in my office at home.
Naturally, the drawings were featured on “The Poppie Show.”
“He wanted to send them to you,” said Katie, who, in an earlier episode, told me to watch the mail.
“For you, Poppie,” Xavier said.
It was the highlight of the show, which is billed as a comedy (the laughs are at my expense since I’m less mature than the children), but there is some drama, too, because Sue and I see how much the kids, especially Zoe and Quinn, have grown but sadly can’t be there to toddle along with them.
The last time we saw them in person, right after New Year’s of 2020, Xavier was toddling and the twins were infants.
Our oldest grandchild, Chloe, who’s almost 8, and her sister, Lilly, 4, are frequent guests on “The Poppie Show.” In fact, they call me all the time so we can sing, dance and be silly, which adds considerably to the entertainment value of the program.
Our younger daughter, Lauren, sometimes makes a cameo appearance, usually in the background while she cooks dinner or cleans the house.
Sue and I have visited the girls a couple of times in recent months, since they live a lot closer to us than Xavier, Zoe and Quinn, whom we have to get on an airplane to visit. We stay outside, we keep a safe social distance and we all wear masks. But most of the time, we see each other on the small screen.
One of these days, everyone will be vaccinated, the pandemic will be over and I can see, hug, kiss, sing, dance and be silly with my grandchildren in person.
Then “The Poppie Show” will be canceled, which will be all right with me. Being a hands-on grandfather beats being a TV star any day.
Copyright 2021 by Jerry Zezima
Jerry’s fifth book to make you laugh is “Every Day Is Saturday: Sleeping Late, Playing with the Grandchildren, Surviving the Quarantine, and Other Joys of Retirement.”