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A Young Grand’s Love

“GRAN!” Jesse screams as he jumps down the backdoor steps at his house. I spread my arms wide and my 3 year-old Grand runs to me. He jumps. I lift him and he wraps his legs around my waist and buries his head in my shoulder.

“Oh, Jesse, I’m so happy to hug you!” I say. Just as happy as I was the day before when he ran to me.

These are the times grandparents must never forget. Must cherish. Almost every time Husband or I see Jesse he asks, “Go to Pop and Gran’s house today?” And he accepts our frequent answer, “Not today, Jesse. Would you like to come another day?” He smiles and screams, “Yes!” Another day can be tomorrow or a day next week.

Jesse has a routine when he visits Husband’s and my house by himself. He climbs the steps to the upstairs playroom. “Come on!” he says. He sets the 1970s Fisher Price plastic garage on a low table and dumps the matchbox cars out of a basket. He parks each car in a blue or red space and counts them. “1, 2, 3, 4,” he says. Then he counts again, “1, 7, 5, 2.”

“Let’s read books now,” my Grand says as he runs to the kids’ bookshelf.   He chooses the same books every time: Look Out for Mater and Tales from the Track, both about the red car Lightening McQueen and his car friends. He throws the books onto the couch. “Sit here, Gran!” he says and slaps beside the books. I sit and he crawls onto my lap.

My Grand laughs aloud when Mater, a brown tow truck travels down a curvy road backwards. And whispers “Shhh” when Big Bull, a monster-sized bulldozer, sleeps. Before I finish reading the second book, Husband comes into the playroom. “Poppy!” Jesse shouts and crawls out of my lap, holds the book, and runs to Husband. Poppy, Jesse’s love name for Husband. Seven other Grands call him Pop, but Jesse coined Poppy, and now it’s his turn to read aloud.

No matter the time of day or how long the visit, Jesse wants a snack. “I’m hungry,” he says. He carries a booster seat to a kitchen chair and fastens its safety belt around his waist. He peels a tangerine, and like most toddlers, stuffs his mouth full and then talks. “Cookies! Can I have cookies?” he says. His snacks are always the same: a tangerine, cookies, and water. Water in a blue plastic cup and a blue straw.

When it’s time for me to take my Grand home, he runs to Husband. “Bye, Poppy,” and holds his arms up to be lifted. If Husband simply hugs, Jesse reminds him to kiss-hug and wiggles to the floor after each kisses the other’s cheek.

Jesse’s greetings and kiss-hugs won’t last much longer. Soon he’ll do as his older siblings who casually say, “Hi, Gran” or wave half-heartedly. But I remember, they too, ran to me when they were toddlers.

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Best Lap Sitter

Version 2 “He’s our best lap sitter,” Son said. My almost three-year-old Grand spots a lap and climbs or crawls or rolls into it. While Son sat on the floor, Neil ran to him and plopped in his daddy’s lap and leaned back. Son hugged Neil tightly.

I’d noticed that Neil seemed to have built-in radar for his mother’s lap. She sat on the couch to fold clothes. Neil climbed into her lap. She sat to repair a pair of glasses. Neil climbed into her lap.  It’s said that a mother’s lap is the safest place on Earth, and I agree, but Neil likes all laps.

After Son talked about Neil being a lap sitter, I watched my young Grand that day. Husband held Annie, Neil’s one-year-old sister, on his lap as he read a book aloud. Neil ran into the room and immediately scrambled to sit beside Annie, but he never said a word and Husband kept reading. And my Grand didn’t move until Husband stood up.

I sat in the floor with my legs crisscrossed while Annie crawled around me, picking up toys and tossing them aside. When she got almost out of my reach, I lunged and held her ankle. Neil ran to me. “I’ll help,” he said and wrapped both arms around Annie, pulling her toward me. Then he plopped onto my legs.

Lunchtime, only Neil and I sat across the kitchen table from each other. The others, Neil’s parents and two siblings and Husband, had finished eating, put their dirty dishes in the dishwasher, and moved on. Neil enjoyed every bite, slowly. One bite, chew. Minutes later, another bite. No need to rush this boy with his food. I was happy to sit with him.

My Grand placed his flat hands on each side of his plate, leaned toward me, “Gran, I’m going to sit in your seat!” He jumped from his booster seat onto the floor and then picked up his plate and set it beside mine. He climbed onto my lap, wiggled to get comfortable, and fifteen minutes later finished eating his peanut butter sandwich and strawberries.

After lunch, I sat in a rocking chair and held Neil. He crossed his arms across his chest and curled his legs, making himself small. “Rock, Gen,” he said. (He’s working on saying Gran. Sometimes it’s Grannie. Sometimes Gigi, his other grandmother’s name. Sometimes Gen or Gran.) I rocked slowly and he scrunched his closed eyes.

“Neil, afternoon rest time in about five minutes,” his mother said. My Grand pulled himself into a tighter ball and turned his head toward me. “Mama, I’m asleep,” he said. Then he peeked, his eyes a narrow open slit, and looked up at me. “Shhh.   I’m asleep.”

I rocked and wrapped my arms around Neil. He wrinkled his nose and squinted several times, as if to be sure I was looking at him and agreed that he was asleep. A few minutes later Neil’s mother said, “Neil, wake up, and come with me. It’s time to sleep upstairs in your bed.”

“Shhh. I’m asleep,” he said. His mother gently lifted him into her arms and my Grand flutter his eyelashes and said, “Good night, Gran.” I let him know I would be ready to rock with him after his nap.

I hope Neil never gets too old to be a lap sitter. Hugging and reading and talking just naturally go with lap sitting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love You Just the Same

searchShe snuggled in my arms – her eyes closed, hands clenched, knees drawn to her belly. A small bundle, asleep and still, and only two days old. A prayer of thankfulness surged through my thoughts.   She stretched. Arched her back, lifted her arms beside her head, and spread her fingers. The top of her head pushed against the crook of my elbow and her legs stretched to my other arm. She took a deep breath, yawned, fluttered her eyelids. Her black eyes, darted, as if to focus. “Hi, Little One,” I said. “Did you have a good nap?” She closed her eyes, made baby sounds – umm, hehand wiggled her head until once again it was nestled in my arm. She drew up her knees and lay still again.

My youngest Grand. Now she’s two weeks old and I see her through the magic of long distance video. She’s growing already. In a few weeks when I’ll again fly halfway across country to visit her and her family, she’ll open her eyes more often. She might even listen.

Little One, you are blessed to have two big brothers. I laughed the day after you were born and you and Mommy were in the hospital. A big, husky deliveryman carried a new swivel rocking chair into your home and your brother (almost 4) said, “I’ve got a new baby sister.” “Whoa!” the deliveryman said, “that’s a big responsibility. You take care of her. That’s what big brothers do.” Because I had a big brother, I knew what he meant. I asked the deliveryman if he had a younger sister. “I sure do. Used to, she didn’t like me telling her what to do. But now she’s dating and she trusts me and we talk. She knows I’ve always got her back, no matter what happens.” And no matter how old you are or how tall you grow, you’ll always be little sister.

Your headful of black, straight hair is as dark as your mothers. You see, we grandparents and parents and aunts and uncle like to see ourselves in you. Like your dimple –that’s from your mother’s father. Your nose – your dad’s. Your long fingers – I claim those. You are unique. A combination of millions of genes that make you different from all of us, and yet like us.

Little One, you evened the score for Grands for Pop and me. Four boys. Four girls. I may not run as fast as I did when your oldest cousin was born almost ten years ago, but I’ll always have a lap and I’ll read to you. And I may not sew costumes for you as I did for your big girl cousins, but I will finish your baby quilt, I promise, real soon. Your picture album may not have as many pictures, but it will have pictures! And I love you just the same as I love your brothers and your cousins. Just the same.