Categorized | Features, Grandparenting

Grandparents: How To Keep Up With The Times


Rayna’s version of apple, donut and popcorn Shopkins hang on grandma’s refrigerator.

By Ellen L. Weingart

“Grandma, Grandma, do you have any Shopkins®?” asked Rayna, 5, excitedly when her grandfather and I came for a week-long visit to help with childcare while she and her brother Aaron were between school sessions.

I had no idea what Shopkins® were, but I was pretty sure I didn’t have any.

Shopkins®, as my son Andrew later informed me with a strong suggestion that I not buy any, are tiny plastic toys based on grocery items, each with a face and unique name.

Because the manufacturer controls how many of each figure it produces, Shopkins® can be common, rare, ultra rare, special edition or exclusive — like the Beanie Babies® of 20 years ago and so unlike the baseball cards we amassed as kids whose value depends on how many mothers threw out our collections.

There also are Shopkins® lines of clothing, doll house furnishings, trading cards, books and, I’m sure, much more. (There are also Petkins®, primarily tiny plastic household look-alikes, such as toasters and watering cans, with pet-like faces, although they mostly remind me of cats.) No wonder Rayna’s parents weren’t anxious to give into this craze their daughter discovered at a classmate’s birthday party.

The next morning, Rayna announced the name of her favorite-for-the moment Shopkin® and asked which was mine.

“Well,” I said, thinking as fast on my feet as I could before breakfast, “I can’t decide.”

“Then go look,” Rayna said.

Being no fool, I turned to my trusty tablet, spoke the word “Shopkins®” and began my acquaintance with dozens upon dozens of the brightly colored creatures.

“I know,” said Rayna, “let’s draw Shopkins®.”

Grandma and Rayna Draw Shopkins

And so, right after breakfast and armed with my computer cheat sheet, we did. I asked Rayna which one I should draw.

“The strawberry,” she replied, followed in rapid succession by “doughnut,” “apple” and “chocolate chip cookie.” Many of the characters had more than one incarnation.

Apple Blossom, for example, comes in both red and green with flowers and leaves and a worm poking from the top of its head. There are also flirty, winking apples and an apple that smiles so broadly, its eyes crinkle up.

And there’s Adam Apple, who is pink with several green leaves on top of his head, one of which drapes seductively over his left eye; despite his masculine name, the long lashes of his visible eye give him a feminine look, like most of the other Shopkins®.

D’lish Donut comes plain and frosted in bright pink with colored sprinkles; Dolly Donut is yellow-orange with a bright blue “z” of frosting above her eyes.

Each Shopkin® has a back story. Apple Blossom is described as “sweet, tart and a bit saucy,” her favorite color is Granny Smith green, she enjoys a crisp fall day, her signature dance move is The Worm and “at her core, she is sweet as pie and always up for adventure — she’s ready to take a bite out of life.”

But Rayna’s only interest that day was drawing.  After watching me, no great shakes as an artist, draw under her direction, she decided on a more direct approach and picked up her own crayon for a go at the Cheeky Cherries, a pair of red cherries — one winking, the other not — bound together with a green stem. We spent a totally enjoyable hour or two drawing together, admiring each other’s handiwork and chatting companionably about the attributes of each Shopkin® we selected before deciding it was time for a trip to the playground.

Favorite Emojis

The next morning, Rayna was again in a drawing mood.

“Grandma,” she said, “do you know about emojis?”

“Sure,” I answered, thinking about those yellow faces I sometimes add to my emails. I had no idea how limited my knowledge was until Rayna asked which was my favorite.

“Oh,” I said naïvely, “I like the smiley emoji.”

“But which smiley one?” Rayna persisted. Now, I knew there was more than one smiler among the bunch, but I decided to take the easy way out and say I liked all the smilers.

Not surprisingly, that didn’t satisfy Rayna.

“Turn on your tablet and you can pick you favorite,” she suggested.

And another world opened to me. In addition to smilers and frowners, winkers and laughers, angels and devils, there were ghosts and cats, cowboys and clowns, party-goers and thinkers who have blown their minds.

Emojis are a favorite school bus topic for Rayna and her friend.

And the apparent favorite among the elementary school set: Poop. In standard brown and in rainbow varieties. Not only is it kindergartner Rayna’s favorite, but it’s a favorite topic of discussion between her and her second-grade school bus companion.

Although I left the poop art to Rayna, we had another enjoyable hour or so drawing — and talking about — emojis.

I don’t know if Rayna will go on enjoying such simple pleasures with Grandma, but I do know it was one of the most pleasurable times I’ve spent with her. The only cost was our time, the greatest gift we could give each other.

That and Rayna’s present to me — a sheet of her hand-drawn Shopkins® now hanging on my refrigerator.

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