Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Be in the moment

Grandmas and Grandpas should never try to multi-task while watching their grandchildren. You may miss a precious moment! It's not that you can't fix supper or run a load of laundry. But if you are trying to do something (like write an academic paper for your graduate school class! ahem), one of three things will happen: 1) you will give up because you can't focus, 2) you will do a lousy job because you can't focus, or 3) you will hide yourself from your grandchildren and thus miss the little moments of their childhood.

I find that I don't even try. My life is so full of deadlines and responsibilities that the few hours I take to be with Granddaughter and Grandsons is a real respite for me. Research shows that having a pet around can lower blood pressure; well, if you stay focused on the grandchildren and their delight in the world, that should have a healthful effect on you, too.

Case in point: this weekend, we babysat Granddaughter and Grandson, ages 2 and 1 (almost 3 and 2). They were dropped off after I got home from work, and while Baby Grandson (age 4 months) and his older brother (4 almost 5) were being babysat by Boppa. It was chaos for a little while, but once we got the running in the house part whipped, we had fun watching their play and their interaction. The baby is starting to respond to his name. He likes sitting in his Bumbo (see photo) and watching TV. He loves his cousins and his big brother. They love him. Granddaughter kisses him every chance she gets. But then ... the news comes on. We, of course, would like to see what is happening outside the world of Dora and Spiderman and Spongebob. But as soon as our focus turns elsewhere, they find ways to distract us. Taking toys away from one another, climbing in our laps with a book, banging on the glass door to go to the play area on the porch, throwing balls around, pushing Hot Wheels around on the floor and on the arms of our chairs. So finally, we get the message: "IT'S ALL ABOUT US, NEE NEE AND BOPPA!" So we hauled them all outside, including Baby Grandson (even if it was a little chilly) and let them run around -- play ball and draw with chalk.

Then we made a HUGE error -- we attempted to take the 2 and 1 year old out to dinner with us at Outback WITHOUT THEM HAVING TAKEN A GOOD NAP ALL DAY. We were seated at the booth closest to the kitchen (in other words, Siberia). Lucky for us. I had already fed them sandwiches before we went (we've tried ordering the kids' meals and they never eat them) figuring we could just order fries for them and then have our steaks (and eat them, too ). BWA HA HA HA! Grandson promptly goes into overdrive punch drunk. Up and down, laughing at the neon crocodile on the wall at least 20 times. Wanted me to say "koala" and "boomerang" as he pointed to them. OVER AND OVER AGAIN. The fries came early, so by the time we got our meal -- BWA HA HA -- they were ready to leave. Grandson played "persistence of memory" all over me (the melting clocks of Dali). Finally, I ended up taking them to the car and Boppa had the meals boxed. We ate them at home. It was 10 before Grandson finally fell asleep -- after Nee Nee told him 3 modern day fairy tales and made him count with her to 52 (he only knows 1-5 but everytime I got to those numbers, he repeated after me). Then I heard the big sigh and his little body relaxed. Sissy was already asleep -- after the 1st story.

But here are the rewards: It isn't a half moon; it's a "broke" moon. The airliner that's about 36,000 feet up is "going to the moon." A special wiggly dance to "September" by Earth, Wind and Fire. Watching them learn to "share" (Nee Nee says, don't take it away and don't cry. When s/he is done playing, you can have it." They've learned that it actually works! (Well, most of the time). Hearing them both yelling "hot" from my bedroom, and walking in and seeing Granddaughter with her arm around Grandon's waist, pointing to the floor lamp, teaching him not to touch it. AND SO MUCH MORE.

When I see them pop out of the bedroom in the morning with huge smiles on their faces, I flip off the Today show, and wait for the real entertainment.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Even the little moments ...

I was needing a little Nee Nee time after a stressful week (between work, grad school, and this cough that won't go away, so I spent the evening checking on grandkids.

My first stop was to my mother's house, where she was watching the 4 year old stepgrandson and the 4 month old grandson. The 4 year old is full of pep and vinegar. It's like watching the Tasmanian Devil in action. He was with my 4 year old niece, who doesn't let him boss her around (like he tries).

The 4 month old was rolling around on a blanket on the floor with his G.G. (great-grandma). He is trying to crawl, but hasn't figured out yet that you push up ... He tries to lift his arms and legs at the same time. Once in awhile he rolls over by accident, and his face is like, "Wow! What a paradigm shift!" He is such a sweetie. I found out he's ticklish right below his right ear.

Then Boppa and I drove up to get the 2 and 1 year old and take them to dinner. The 1 year old has been having a bad habit of reaching into his diaper lately, so we've all invested in onesies and overalls. He looks so cute. When we drove up, he immediately headed to his Boppa for a hug, and Granddaughter headed to me for her hug. We packed them up and took them to Cracker Barrel. Granddaughter says, "Cra - er Bawell." They were so good! Granddaughter unrolled her silverware and was thrilled that her Nee Nee let her keep the knife. Grandson had his knife for a minute, but made Boppa nervous because he wanted to tap himself in the face with it. Both of them were very good until the food came. Mostly they colored (or practiced putting the crayons in and out of the box). Granddaughter discovered the little triangle with the pegs (called "pokies" by us). She didn't want to play the game. She wanted to name the colors ... and then she counted. She got all the way up to 12!!! Two were left in the triangle. I tried to introduce her to the concept of addition -- 4 orange and 4 white makes 8 pokies! You never know!

They were so good. They ate their pancakes (at first with forks but as the pancakes got soggy, they went to fingers). AFter the meal, we let them wander around the shop but told them, look but don't touch. At one point, Boppa picked something up and Granddaughter yelled, "No Boppa! Don't touch!!!" All the cashiers laughed! She waved her hands while she did it. Then later I picked up a picture frame to look at and Grandson yells, "Noooooooooo!" So they remembered the rules. After we looked at the goodies, we went outside to rock in the chairs. Of course, they had to play checkers (their version). Grandson thinks pushing the checkers away is the game, then he yells, "I win!!!" and laughs like a maniac! I think he's been watching his mommy and daddy play cards! Another little girl came out and started rocking, so Granddaughter decided to make friends and sat next to her. Then Grandson plopped down. They were rocking fast and furious until a plane came in for a landing (small airport behind the CB). Boy, that was fascinating to them. When we left, Granddaughter cried, "I like Cracker Barrel! I want to stay." I finally calmed her down by telling her Daddy would bring her back for pancakes. 'Yes!" she exclaimed.

The next sad moment was when she figured out she wasn't coming to our house for the night, but going home. "I go home?" she asked incredulously. Then she put her hands to her eyes and started crying very quietly. I broke my heart. I told her she had to go home so she could go visit her Great Aunts and Uncle tomorrow. Pretty soon we got off on that topic. I was almost ready to see if her daddy would let her come stay by herself with Nee Nee. But I've got a commitment in the morning so I really don't have time.

But anyway, I had a little Nee Nee time and could really see how fast they are growing. And that makes me a little sad.