"As our relationship radically progressed, Raffy learned to call me Tita Sandy. And today, as proof of our unbreakable bond, my little grandson calls me Tita Sands. That's how close we are!"

RAFFY is the three-year old son of my nephew and this grandson of mine thinks we are playmates. Everyone in the family however firmly believes that Raffy and I are of the same mental and emotional level, which, they say, is the reason for our getting along so perfectly well.

The truth of the matter is that I like going with little Raffy's flow, curious about where his lead will bring me.

-oOo-

When Raffy started to attempt to form words, he could not say Sandy. From the age of two, he had my name undergo a few transitions - from Andy to Mandy to Candy. Then, a few months back, to my pleasant surprise, he began to call me Sandy! Whoa!

As our relationship radically progressed, Raffy learned to call me Tita Sandy. And today, as proof of our unbreakable bond, my little grandson calls me Tita Sands. That's how close we are!

-oOo-

Recently, while I was lounging on the sofa, Raffy suddenly ran and slammed into me, and hung on to me - his feet raised high in the air. Surprised, I asked him what was happening. And he pointed to the floor and shouted, "Shark!" Then in his garbled way, he commanded me to raise my own feet up on the sofa too, lest the imaginary shark bites off my feet - which I, of course, promptly obeyed.

Soon, the sofa became a boat that we, including Raffy's mother who was caught unaware, began to row... until, for no reason whatsoever, Raffy got tired of pretending and without a word, walked out.

-oOo-

I suspect there are two reason why Raffy thinks I'm his playmate. First, I appear to listen to him - even if he is yet unable to communicate clearly. His attempts at communicating can sometimes be quite charming. He calls himself "Waffy"; turtle becomes titool; okay is otey. I often tell Raffy's mother not to teach him to pronounce words properly, as childhood is such a fleeting period in life. On the other hand, he can often surprise us with adult phrases such as "You see..." or "I told you..." or "Don't worry..."

I think that the more important reason for the bond that Raffy and I have built together is that I play "fight dinosaur" with him. You see, Raffy and his older brother, eight-year old Jerry, are very much obsessed with dinosaurs. Their fascination with these extinct monsters have given way to a collection of toy dinosaurs of various shapes, sizes and colors. I think that Raffy learned how to say "T-Wex" and "spinosauwus" way before he could even say Mama and Dada. (Note: In between all these Jurassic mammals, however, Raffy sometimes allows Godzilla to appear.)

-oOo-

Initially, "fight dinosaur" was simply that: Raffy would assign to me a toy dinosaur, and he would pick another dinosaur for himself. Then we would emit various growling noises (which Raffy would often politely interrupt to correct my growling noise), and slam each other's dinosaur.

As an old lady, however, I can only slam dinosaurs for so long (It can really be very tiring!). So I developed a new plot of making the dinosaurs sleep (a strategy for me to rest) by singing them lullabies. Raffy loved the new plot, and soon developed his own stories, like feeding the dinosaurs, playing doctor when one of the dinosaurs has a tummy ache, playing hide and seek, and so on. Fortunately for Raffy, these less active plots allowed his equally Jurassic playmate to "fight dinosaur" longer with him.

-oOo-

Then one night when Raffy had gone to bed, and his parents were out, eight-year old Jerry, with both hands behind him, shyly approached me. I asked him if he needed something. Then with a very sad face, Jerry told me that I was always playing "fight dinosaur" with his little brother; can I play "fight dinosaur" with him too?

This so tore my heart to pieces that I immediately stood up, and said, "Let's go play fight dinosaur!" And like magic, Jerry brought out his hands from behind his back, presenting me with two toy dinosaurs! And for about an hour, Jerry's discourse about which dinosaurs were herbivores and which ones were carnivores ensued, punctuated by my "ooohs" and "aaahs."

-oOo-

Unfortunately, Raffy and Jerry will sooner or later outgrow our "fight dinosaur," and probably forget that I was once their Jurassic playmate. While this sort of saddens me, it really isn't something I should worry about.

There are new babies in the family who will take their place! Basti just turned one year old; Isabelle just turned eleven months old; Adan, who lives in Australia, is six months old; Noah is three months old. And just last week, baby Mio was born.

Yes! I'll probably be playing more "fight dinosaur" for the next few years!