My job, right now, is to take the sharpness off the edges of each day.
That’s what I wrote in my journal this morning.
Grandma’s job, when a new baby is born, is to be there; to just be there.
I try to remember back when my second child was born. Who helped me? My mom had died earlier that year. Still, I would not have reached out to her for help. She told me with my first “I raised my kids. I don’t want to raise your’s.” I am a different kind of grandma.
I am here…
This grandma learned, early on, that she needed to stay physically fit to keep up with growing baby number one. And, now that baby is two years old and we play together in bouncy houses and he challenges me to races in the hallway. “Run, grandma, run. Hop, grandma, hop. Roll, grandma, roll”. I get quite a workout from my little trainer.
I am here… to keep him busy while mama cares of the new baby.
The new baby had a need for doctor visits. Something’s not right. Mama and daddy are emotional and stressed.
I am here… to listen and encourage. “Trust that everything will be ok. Trust.”
Big brother doesn’t understand why things are different now. “Daddy, play!” Daddy is busy trying to help mama. Big brother gets louder and louder.
I am here… to give him another option besides screaming.
I try to remember how I did it when my two girls were little. How did I cope with the crying, the noise, the needs of two babies, and mountains of cloth diapers? How did I do it alone?
This grandma raised her children but has more to give.
I am here… to take the sharpness off the edges of the day.
But first, I cried… as I took the empty carseat out of my car. I cried as I opened the back door only to see leftovers from breakfast: his favorite fruit yesterday was not his favorite fruit today. In the living room, there was a basket of blocks meant to stay at Grandma’s house. My home was now silent. I had just returned from dropping him and his mama off at the airport. They don’t live here anymore.
But, I smiled.
Now, I have nothing but time to retrace the days of their visit. It had been over a month since I’d seen them. I was thrilled that they were coming and they were going to stay with me! I bought books, and toys, and little boy pajamas with cartoon characters on them. I set up a Pack-N-Play in my spare bedroom with a fresh new crib sheet. I pulled out…
When I was a new mom, everything had to be perfect. Now, as a Grandma, I think the mess is more fun.
To spoon or not to spoon? That is the question.
Whether tis nobler, in the mind, to suffer the pain of learning this mysterious convention or to oppose it and end this hunger.
To eat: To finally eat!
Ah, this thing; a spoon? While full of intrigue, as a vessel, it fails; Incapable of delivering even the smallest morsel to its destination. Precious cargo lost all along the way. Determined, I journey on. Yet, try and try again, this tool seems unworthy of carrying even the smallest of loads.
There must be an easier way!
Now this tool -this thing they’ve named a hand – seems far more capable. One trip and…
Successful delivery to the targeted destination.
So why this silly obsession with this thing they call a spoon?
Seems but a battle; a waste of precious time.
The warrior spirit, in me, has waned. I’ve grown tired and weak with hunger.
Today’s world is so much different than when this grandma was a little child. Still some day, you might remember things that your grandma taught you. I hope that your clearest memory isn’t “No”.
This word is so familiar to you that, when it’s said, you shake your head back and forth, pause for a couple of seconds and then proceed with your quest. When I was little, the word “No” was said with a loud voice and followed by a hand slap. Lucky for you, I’m not that kind of grandma.
Right now, you love to push buttons! I didn’t know there were so many buttons in our lives these days. Buttons on the DVR have been guarded by your Pack and Play for so long but, now, you just push that out of your way! The remote control has so many buttons that you’d think it would be impossible to turn the tv on but you do that successfully any time you get your hands on that button toy.
Then there are the buttons on the washer and dryer, the stove front, and the doorbell speaker system, the refrigerator ice machine, and every computer, phone and ipad in the house. Today, I could only take photos from a distance because you wanted to play with the buttons on that as well. This might mean that you may be seeing an over abundance of crying baby photos in the near future. It was when you pushed the ottoman out of the way so you could get to the buttons on the plugged in timer for the lamp that I had to get serious!
Well, what’s a grandma to do?
Divert, divert, divert!
There are plenty of other things in your home that are great to touch, and safe. So we went exploring. Here’s what we found…
You love the feeling of cold windows and you are now tall enough to see out the front windows. There’s a bonus here. You also love to watch the cars go by. “Car” is now counted as one of your regular words.
The carpet is so nice to touch that you actually like just laying on it. Climbing the stairs is the bonus that comes along with that tactile adventure.
The ball pit is a super fun place for you to push things around. Today, though, you realized that you can tip the whole thing over which scared you a little until you saw all the balls spill out and then you just thought that was supremely funny. AND, you loving watching grandma pick them all up and put them back. Apparently, that meant that it was time to tip the house over again.
Time to divert your attention to something else again. Grandma didn’t think it was aa funny as you did.
Ok, so if you love to touch things, push on things, and make a mess, grandma had another plan: controlled tactile stimulation.
As usual, your grandma thought she had two winners here. The play dough even smells wonderful as it is made with Kool-aide (check out Pinterest for the recipe).
Well, you didn’t like either one. In fact, you only barely touched each one with one finger and then wanted to be done with that.
In fact, our whole touching adventure lasted for a grand total of about twenty minutes. There were no buttons, no sound, no vibrating mechanisms on the windows but you had the bonus of cars driving by. The feel of the carpet came with a great climbing adventure. And the ball pit, well, that actually was funny. The play dough and sand, however, came with no real bonuses. It just is whatever you make it out to be. You may be too young yet to see that creativity can be fun. I think we are going to have to practice pushing play dough and sand around a little more each day.
Who knows, some day you might like it as much as pushing buttons.
We had our first big snow of the winter but you were not feeling very good which meant that going outside to experience it was completely out of the question. Still, I thought that I could bring some of that snow to you so that you could touch it at least. So in the middle of the night, I had this idea that I could just bring in a little snow and let you watch as I built a little snowman. I even tried to think of little things that could serve as eyes, mouth, hat, and buttons. You know, the way a typical snowman should look.
I was excited! Your mom…not so much, but I was undeterred.
First the snow.
I just took a cookie sheet and filled it with the cleanest snow from right outside the door.
Then the ingredients.
Your snack food was perfect. At least, that’s what I thought.
Then I tried to form the snow into a snowman but there was one problem: the snow wouldn’t pack! It was that light kind of snow that just doesn’t work well for snowman building. I hadn’t even considered this issue. I tried and tried to form a ball but just couldn’t get it to hold. You were getting tired of just sitting there watching me so I gave you a little bit of snow to play with – your first science experiment: what happens to snow when you hold it in your hand for a few seconds?
Well, after adding a little water to this snow mess, I was finally able to get it to stand upright…a little.
When your mom saw it, though, she just laughed. Your Auntie E called it a “Pinterest Fail”. One thing we all decided was that it didn’t look anything at all like a snowman.
This excursion dates back a ways but still it’s worth archiving. You and I had a “family pass” to the zoo so we could have gone time and time again this summer. Still, we only got there two times total. Maybe your mom and dad will give us another chance next summer.
Here’s what we learned this year:
1. Go early to get a great parking spot but don’t forget to dress for chilly temperatures.
Ok, so I forgot to bring your hat. I thought it was going to be so much warmer. So then, I had to buy a hat there and guess what? They didn’t have kids hats 😦 . So there you are wearing who knows what but at least your ears were warm.
Then, I felt bad and had to buy you a giraffe! What can I say? Grandmas can do that sort of thing. I chose the giraffe because it was actually an animal that you could see from the stroller.
We walked and walked but found very few animals that you could actually see. Still, you remained calm and just enjoyed watching people for awhile.
But at a certain point, you just looked up at me with those questioning eyes as if to say “Grandma, why are we here?”
2. Know ahead of time if there are actually things that a baby can see from a stroller.
And then we found something that you could actually see…the fish tank!
You LOVED the fish tank. I think it reminded you of your crib toy: so much so that watching these fish almost put you to sleep.
We found some other animals that you could see but we learned that zoos don’t really cater to stroller height. So, you can just imagine that I was a little dubious about taking you to yet another zoo, this time in Mexico. But this time, we found the secret.
3. Find a Petting Zoo
We found animals that you could reach out and touch! Ok, well it freaked Grandma out but, lucky for you, your mom was along and she held the bird up close to you and you got to touch an alligator and a snake! You loved it all!
Now we can’t go to Mexico every time we want to touch animals so we are going to have to find a petting zoo close to home.
4. Not to worry, baby boy. Next time we go to the zoo, Grandma will be more prepared.
It was a beautiful fall day. I decided it would be great to take you to my favorite place these days, the woods behind my apartment. This photo looks like I sent you sailing down the hill on your own. Not to worry, you were braked.
As we walked along, I tried to point out the things that I loved. You were not necessarily impressed. So, I decided to get you out of the stroller so you could actually FEEL the textures.
You were interested, a little. You humored me anyway. But then, a stranger wandered by and you waved to him. I caught that in a photo and when I looked back at it, you looked more like you were begging for someone to rescue you from this pile of dried stuff. So, needless to say, we moved on.
It was time for a break anyway.
We strolled on until I found a spot that I thought you would love. You did! But not for the reason I thought.
I thought you would love the view. I mean just look at the beauty of the trees and the pond. You, on the other hand…
loved the wood chips!
Ok, fine. I let you play while I enjoyed the view. We both had a great time.
We ended the walk at one more site that I love and your reaction was a surprise…you enjoyed this location but…
once again, you weren’t looking at the beautiful view. You could have cared less about where you were, you were happy…