The Crazy Old Bat and Birthday Presents

The family gathered round the old woman in the now familiar den. She sat shoulders haunched over in her wheelchair in between the two green couches framing that side of the room. As her family had become accustomed, they looked on the unpleasant face of the old woman, a face which rarely smiled, her once hazel eyes now gray and lifeless.

“Happy Birthday, Mom,” her youngest daughter offered once everyone was situated on a couch or pulled-up chair, the young children on the floor.

A chorus of “Happy Birthdays” spattered off after Chloe took the lead, and she leaned over from her place on the couch to grab a brightly colored bag just ahead of her. She gently placed the bag in her mother’s lap, and the old woman looked down at her own reflection in the metallic sections that popped out at her. She slowly slid her hand up the top of the bag and fingered the shiny tissue paper that streamed out like the huge water fountains at the mall. And she gave one of her trademark “Hmphfs.”

“Tissue paper. It took days to clean up all that paper. I’d never seen such a mess,” the old woman grumped.

“What is she complaining about now?” her grandson whispered to his cousin from one of the chairs at the back of the party. “Grandma is the only person I know who could find a reason to be unhappy at her own birthday party.”

“Oh, who knows?” answered the teenaged girl, obsessed with twirling her long blonde locks. “Grandma’s just crazy.”

But Grandma was too busy remembering another birthday party to notice her grandchildren at the back of the room.

Yes, the crazy old bat was remembering a time when she wasn’t quite as crazy, wasn’t nearly as old, and was actually somewhat attractive. After five years of raising children she had thought she was going crazy but she was naive as to what was yet to come.

On this particular day in her memory, the young woman at the time was tired; she didn’t feel well and decided she wasn’t going to put the intentional effort into her parenting that she did on most days. Instead, she was going to lie on the couch with her feet up and trust, albeit foolishly, that her children could play nicely for a half an hour.

She heard little feet travel up the stairs, and she heard them travel back down again. She heard the sound that was akin to paper grocery bags, and she heard the rustling of paper. Yet she remained on the couch. There were no sounds of furniture crashing or screams for help, so the relatively speaking young and attractive mother decided to continue lying on the couch while her children played. But the time for her to get up arrived, and she gingerly stepped in the direction of the playroom.

She knew she had taken a risk. She knew she was probably stupid. But 30 minutes prior she hadn’t cared. She hadn’t cared, that is, until she saw every single gift bag she had owned covering the floor of the playroom. Tissue paper, the tissue paper she had carefully folded in order to reuse (that’s right–the crazy young bat hadn’t bought a bag or tissue paper in about seven years) came out of the tops of the bags in a crumpled mess. Wrinkled paper was strewn all over the floor.

“WHAT in the world?….” she trailed off, looking over the mess that overwhelmed even her sensibilities.

The three children turned around sharply looking at their mother.

“We’re having a birthday party!!” her daughter exclaimed with a smile that lit up her whole face.

“Yeah,” her son agreed while he reached down to grab one of the presents.

The mother looked and noticed that the bag was filled, filled with toys from the playroom. Her mind quickly calculated how long it would take her children to put away all of the toys that lined the bottom of each bag.

“Hurry up and have your party so we can clean up,” she said with the wave of her hand, her eyes slightly squinted from the headache that had now formed.

“Here, Hannah Grace,” offered her son. This present’s for you.”

The young girl grabbed the present excitedly, her eyes shining. She reached down and pulled out layer upon layer of tissue paper, throwing each piece on the floor, until she reached in and pulled out a princess Barbie doll, a worn, tattered princess Barbie doll whose hair she had cut. A worn, tattered princess Barbie doll that she had owned for almost a year.

“OOhhh…a princess doll! I love it!” she exclaimed as if she had never seen the doll before in her life.

“Here, Caleb. I got this present for you.” She handed her brother a bulky bag, the toy inside not quite fitting.

“Oh, wow! A football! Mom, look! Hannah Grace got me a football!”

The mother looked on in disbelief. The playroom was full of bags full of old toys that her kids were going wild over. If only the Academy were there to notice their performance.

“Well,” the moderately young mother stated matter-of-factly. “I’m so glad to know that all I have to do for Christmas is wrap up one of the toys that you already have.”

Now it was her kids’ turn to stare in disbelief.

*******************************************

The crazy old bat continued to finger the tissue paper that spew out the top of her bag, and if her children were paying attention, they might have seen the right side of her lips curl in a slight smile.

New to The Crazy Old Bat? Click here to read more of her stories. What’s a fond (or fond in retrospect) memory of your child(ren)’s play?

4 thoughts on “The Crazy Old Bat and Birthday Presents

    1. Yes, many stories are much cuter when I'm not involved…or if I have a safe amount of distance from the event. 😉

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    1. It's amazing the stories we all have when we stop looking for the big and important and instead look at those simple moments in our life. I find those moments can grow even sweeter in the retelling. 😉

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