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What Grandparents Do

images  Grandparents do silly things. Like travel halfway across the country to hug grandchildren. Husband and I made this all day journey to visit Son and Daughter-in-Law about twice a year, until five years ago. Now, three Grands later, we make the trip more often.

Son carried Husband’s and my suitcases from his car, opened the front door of his home, and announced, “Pop and Gran are here!” Bare feet slapped the wooden floor as Dean, age 4, and little brother, Neil, ran. Husband lifted Dean who wrapped his arms and legs around his Pop in a whole body hug. Two-year-old Neil stretched his arms high and his threw his head back. I lifted my Grand into a hug and he buried his face in my shoulder. “Oh, Neil! I love you,” I said. “Uv’ you,” Neil said and swiped his open mouth across my cheek.

Baby sister Annie lay on her stomach on the floor. Dean ran to her. “Annie, look! Pop and Gran are here!” I sat on the floor beside my four month old Grand and picked her up. I hugged her close. Her brothers patted her arms, her head, her legs, and snuggled close to me. The hassle and cost of the day’s journey were worth every effort, every minute, every penny.

Grandparents laugh at the same corny riddle time and time again. Dean sat across the supper table from me. “Gran,” he said, “What did the cow do when her car wouldn’t start?” I guessed that she got her car fixed or walked or bought a new car. Dean shook his head from shoulder to shoulder. “She rode her MOO-tercycle!” my Grand said and he burst out laughing. I laughed, too. The next day and the next I still didn’t know what that cow would do and Dean and I both laughed when he shouted, “MOO-tercycle!”

Neil asked and answered his own favorite riddle. “Sad cow?” he said and immediately lowered his chin, stuck out his bottom lip, pulled down his eyebrows, and said, “MOO, hoo, hoo.” When everyone at the table laughed, he skipped the question and chanted, “MOO, hoo, hoo.” Dean’s and Neil’s riddles were part of every meal’s conversation for three days. I laughed every time.

Grandparents babble. Annie sat in her bouncy seat. I said, “Look at you. You’re as cute as a June bug. La, la, la, la, la. Look at those big beautiful brown eyes. You’re such a happy and strong girl.” My Grand kicked her left leg and made her seat rock. Her eyes sparkled. Her mouth opened wide and she stuck her fist in her mouth. I rattled on. “Oh, is your fist good? Yum. Yum. How about a song? Ole MacDonald had a farm….” Annie laughed out loud at my imitation of a horse. Even her big brothers laughed.

Grandparents like wiggles and scrunches. Recently a new grandmother said, “Before my granddaughter was born, I’d think ‘What’s the big deal?’ Yesterday a friend showed me pictures of her first grandchild and told me how her grandson wiggles his toes, scrunches his nose, and fills his diaper. You know, I get this grandparent thing. I didn’t understand why grandchildren were so special. You gotta’ be a grandparent to get it. I get it!”

Grandparents stick together. After all, we do such silly things.

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A Refreshing Walk with My Grand

imgres “Wots dat?” Neil asked and pointed toward white, feathery puffs of cotton that floated above his head.

“It’s seeds from cottonwood trees,” I said. He reached his hands high to catch the seeds, but they floated around him and onto the ground. He picked up a delicate seed and closed it inside his fist. When he spread his fingers wide, the seed seemed to have disappeared. He wrinkled his forehead, cocked his head, and picked up another seed.

Neil, my almost two-year-old Grand, seemed perplexed. He gathered several cottonseeds -one at a time- closed his hand, and when he opened it, he didn’t see the same white cotton puff. “Gone!” he announced and then began walking.

Neil and I were taking a morning walk. In his neighborhood, on the sidewalk, to a nearby park. “Wots dat?” Neil pointed to a white spot on the sidewalk. “Bird poo. Don’t touch it,” I told him and held his hand tightly. “POO!” he shouted and wiggled his hand free from mine. We had reached the park and Neil ran to and climbed upon a green metal bench. “POO!” he said and patted white spots on the bench.

A robin hopped on the grass, pecked at the ground, and raised its head. I held Neil in my lap and told him that the robin was searching for worms to eat. The robin flew low to the ground and Neil’s feet hit the ground running. Arms stretched in front of him, legs churning, Neil ran toward the bird. Mr. Robin stopped, pecked the ground again, and when Neil was only a few feet away, the bird flew. All around the open grassy field, the two played chase.

But, of course, Neil never came close to Mr. Robin. Finally, the robin perched in a pine tree. Neil ran to the tree and looked up. I pointed to the bird and suggested that he was full and ready for a rest. “Gone!” Neil announced.

Holding hands Neil and I walked along the sidewalk to the duck pond. “Wot dey doing?” Neil asked when we saw several ducks with their heads tucked along their backs. I said, “Probably sleeping.” Neil asked, “Why?” I explained that ducks get tired just like we do and, knowing that why questions never end, I veered our walk toward Neil’s home.

My Grand gathered short sticks that he gave me to hold and we talked about things we saw. Airplane contrails that crisscrossed the sky. White puffy clouds. A man who was power washing his driveway. A brown rabbit that hopped from shrub to shrub. A red pickup truck. Yellow tulips that Neil couldn’t pick.

“Wots dat?” Neil suddenly stopped walking. “It sounds like a fire truck,” I said. A fire truck that didn’t come within our sight, but kept Neil still long enough that he spotted ants, tiny brown ones, on the concrete walk. He squatted so low that his knees touched his chin and he watched the ants scurry to their anthill in the grass and then back onto the sidewalk. One ant hurried away from the others and Neil, still in a tight squat, shuffled his feet and followed it until it crawled into the grass.

“We’re home,” I told Neil. He rushed into his house and gave his older brother a treasure – one of his sticks.

There’s nothing quite so refreshing as taking a walk with a toddler. Everything is fascinating. Even seeds and ants and sticks.

 

 

What Kids Said

14764892-illustration-of-girl-and-boy-holding-callout-picture-on-a-whiteMy folder labeled “Kids Said” is overflowing. And the children aren’t just my Grands. Friends share what their children and grandchildren say. So many snippets not long enough for a column and too good to remain hidden in a folder.

From the mouths of three-year-old kids…

Mother walked into the dining room and saw Robin holding her fingers pointed down over her half full glass of milk. Robin likes to dip her fingers into her milk and she’s been told, more than once, not to do it. Robin looked at her mother and said, “May you turn around?”

Granny asked Chuck to ride with her to the cemetery. She explained that her parents and grandparents were buried there. Chuck asked, “Will God be there?” Granny answered, “Yes,” and didn’t give an explanation. Chuck said, “Then I probably won’t get out of the car.”

As Grandma buckled Madison in her car seat, Madison asked a question that Grandma didn’t understand except she heard the words ‘poka dots.’ Grandma didn’t see any polka dots, or any kind of dots, in the car or on their clothes. So Grandma asked Madison where she saw dots. Madison answered quickly, “Your hands, Grandma.”

One November day, Grandmother told Elaine that her grandfather was blowing leaves off their yard and into the woods. Elaine immediately shouted, “With his mouth?”

When Jack’s parents asked him what gifts he wanted for Christmas, he looked into space for a few seconds, and then shouted, “I know! A choking hazard!” Just like other kids, he’d been told many times that he couldn’t have something because it was a choking hazard.

According to five year olds…

When baby brother was born, big sister told Mother, “I really wish you’d had your umbilical cords tied after you had me so I would be the only child!”

Mother looked at Andrew, tousled his hair, hugged him, and said, “You are changing.” Andrew pulled away from Mother, looked down at his legs and then at his arms. “No, I’m not!” he shouted.

When little Mary was asked to pray before the family meal, she looked at the food on the table and then said, “Not for this!”

 

Grandmother: I’m going to Yoga.

Caroline: What’s a yoga?

Grandmother: It’s exercise to make muscles and joints feel better.

Caroline: Does it get rid of soft, fat tummies?

Grandmother: No. Probably not.

Caroline: Good. Cause I like yours.

 

The perspective of a seven year old…

Gran dropped her iPhone onto the kitchen floor. Lou put her hand on her hip, cocked her head, and said, “So, now do you have a DUMB phone?”

Lou rode in the backseat of Gran’s van and when they stopped at a traffic light, Lou silently read an inscription close to the top of the Putnam County Courthouse.

 

Lou: Hmm. That sounds like something Yoda would say.

Gran: What?

Lou: In God, we trust. That’s the way Yoda talks. Not like normal people talk.

Gran: What would normal people say?

Lou: We trust in God.

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Never Run Out of Hugs

images-1 I love all the hugs that I share with my Grands. And just as each Grand is different from the other, so are their hugs.

I held my arms out to Dean, age 3 ½, and asked, “Do you have a hug?” He spread his arms wide, threw them around my neck and said, “I never run out of hugs!” Until the next day.   Dean sat on my lap as I read aloud Little Blue Truck Leads the Way. I read the last page, squeezed him with one arm and said, “How about a hug?”

Dean shook his head and grinned. “No hugs. I don’t have any,” he said and he jumped onto the floor and stood beside me. I told him I’d give him one of my hugs and I did. “Now you have a hug to give,” I said. Dean wrapped his arms across his chest, raised his shoulders and clutched them with his hands. “I gave me a hug!” he said.

Dean’s little brother, Neil who is 21 months old, laid his head on my shoulder and wrapped his arms around me. A whole body hug. Later, I sat on the couch and watched Neil line up his matchbox cars on the windowsill. Then he held a car in each hand, stood, and turned his back to me. He walked backward until his back touched my knees and then he looked up at me. That was my signal to pick him up onto my lap. Neil pushed himself back against me and sat still. Another whole body hug.

Elaine, who is also 3 ½, has perfected the welcome hug. When I open the back door to her family’s home, I hear the slap of Elaine’s feet as she runs toward me. Her arms form a T with her body. Her eyes and mouth are open wide. I quickly sit on the nearest chair or squat down. “Gran!” she screams, just before she throws her arms around me. It’s a two-arm around the neck squeeze and a kiss on my cheek.   If I don’t sit or squat fast enough, it’s a two-arm around the knees squeeze and a kiss on my thigh.

Lou, 7 years old, surprised me last week. I turned my van’s motor off and expected her to undo her seat belt, open the van door, jump out, say “Bye, Gran,” and run into her house as she usually does. She stood behind my driver’s seat.   After her older brother got out of the van, I asked, “Lou? Everything okay?” She put her arm around my shoulder and her head beside mine. “Gran, thank you for taking me places. I love you.” Then she opened the van door, jumped out, and ran up the back porch steps to her house. She stopped at her family’s back door, turned toward me, and waved. I counted that as another hug.

Virginia Satir, a respected psychologist and family therapist, is often quoted. She said, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.”   I agree.

A good thing about hugs is when you give one, you get one, and then you’ll be like Dean – you’ll never run out of hugs.images

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not As It Seems

search I’m blessed with four Grands between the ages of 1½ and 5½. I love the toddler stage, and I’m always entertained by the way young children see the world. Their confusion that everything isn’t literal or as it seems.

Elaine is 3 ½ and she became very upset over something that happened to her older sister, Ruth. While on a recent vacation with Daughter and her family, Ruth and I got out of the swimming pool and sat in the hot tub. Ruth eased herself in front of one of the jets and her loose swim shirt quickly filled with air. “Look, Elaine!” she laughed and called to sister. “Look at my bathing suit!” Elaine came running toward the hot tub, saw Ruth, and then froze in place. Elaine’s eyes grew big. She put both hands over her mouth and screamed, “No! No! Get out! Get out!’ I assured Elaine that Ruth was okay. Ruth got out of the hot tub and Elaine helped her pat the bathing suit flat against her body. Elaine looked at Ruth’s chest and back under her bathing suit.  When Ruth turned to get back in the hot tub, Elaine screamed, “No! Don’t get in!” There was no way to convince Elaine that Ruth wouldn’t inflate, like a balloon.

When Dean was barely 2 ½, his mother asked what he wanted to be when he grew up. Dean looked off into space and didn’t answer. Thinking he needed some hints, his mother suggested that he might be a fireman or policeman. Dean frowned, turned his head side to side and said, “Big. Grow up big!”   He was three years old when he went grocery shopping with his mother and saw a carton of brown eggs in a clear plastic package. “Look! Chocolate eggs! Get those,” he told his mother.

David was five when he saw the sunrise at the beach. “Look! The sun came out of the water!” The same sun that stayed all night in the water; it went in the water in one place and came out another.

My Grands take me back to the time my own children were toddlers. I thought that Son, age 4 and Daughter, age 5 ½ could help me paint a play table. I gave each of them a brush and poured a small amount of blue paint into two flat-bottomed plastic bowls. We determined which half of the table each of them would paint and for a few minutes, all went well. Most of the washable blue paint was spread on the tabletop and most drips landed on the newspapers that covered the garage floor. Then Daughter complained that Son was painting a leg on her section of the table. I said, “Eric, paint your legs,” and I went into the house for one minute to get something. Eric followed my directions perfectly. He completely covered both his own legs with blue paint.

Toddlers. Trying to understand the whys and causes and directions. Aren’t we all?

 

 

 

 

My Grands Said

15741917-five-kids  We’ve just celebrated Grandparents’ Day so it’s perfect time to share some notes that I’ve written recently in a little notebook entitled, “My Grands Said.” When my oldest Grand was two and screamed “ ’Cuse you!” because he wanted everyone out of his way, I grabbed a pen and a blank notebook. Kids truly say the funniest things.

While grocery shopping with his mother, three-year-old Dean saw a carton of brown eggs. “Look, there’s chocolate eggs!” he said. “Get those!”

Elaine, also age 3, sat in my lap and held a small wooden Pinocchio in her hand. “Gran, do you know who this is?”   She cut her eyes to look up at me. “It’s Mr. Pokey Nose!” she said and raised her shoulders and giggled. I imitated her giggle and said, “Oh, I think his name is Pinocchio.” Elaine closed her eyes and whispered, “But Mr. Pokey Nose is funnier.”

I told Elaine about a little girl named Maddie. “Is she mad all the time?” my Grand asked. I explained that her name is really Madelyn and Maddie is a nickname. “Well, she must be mad that they call her that,” Elaine said.

This spring, Husband and I took two of our Grands, Ruth, age 5, and Elaine to the Monterey Easter Egg Hunt. On the way up the mountain I said, “The town we’re going to is Monterey.” Ruth asked, “Is that where the butterflies are?” “I don’t know. Why?” I said.

“Well, there’s monterey butterflies, you know,” my Grand said. “Are you thinking of monarch butterflies?” I asked. My Grand was silent for a minute. “Maybe. But, you know what, Gran? I still think there’ll be butterflies in Monterey.”

Six-week-old Micah was crying as he sat in his bouncy seat so I picked him up and held him in my arms. He continued to cry, just as loudly as before. Big Sisters Ruth and Elaine stood close by.   Elaine said, “Gran, are….?” I didn’t understand the rest of her question, even though she shouted it two times. I asked older sister Ruth what Elaine said. “She said, ‘Are you going to take him home with you?’ ” I told her I wasn’t. In a loud, clear voice, Elaine said, “I wish you would!”

Lou is a second grader and was working on math while she and I sat at my kitchen table. The task was to write word numbers and the question asked how many colors on a traffic light. Looking off into space, Lou said, “It’s mostly black and there’s white around the circles and there’s… ” She hesitated and I explained that the question probably meant how many colors light up in the circles, like red for stop. “Why didn’t it just say that?” my Grand exclaimed. The next question asked how many pages in the reading book. “Which reading book? Surely not all of those!” She pointed to the large collection of children’s books on my bookshelf.

While his mother drove the car, Dean rode in the backseat and announced, “We’re racing that police car, Mommy! We’re winning!”  Mother explained that the police officer was simply driving his car in the lane beside their car.

Elaine held a magic wand over my head and asked, “Gran, what do you want to be? A doll or a stuffie?” I’m happy just being a Gran.

 

It’s Another Night

searchFinally, it was another night. A night when Elaine, our 3-year-old granddaughter, spent the night with Husband and me all by herself.   Some time ago she realized that her three older siblings take turns spending a night each week, so our young Grand often asked, “Gran, can I stay all night with you and Pop? All by myself?”

Elaine has spent the night when one of her siblings stayed, and she climbed out of her bed many times before she finally fell asleep. Her brother or sister helped convince her to go to sleep. I’d hoped that she’d learn to stay in bed before she came by herself.

When she first began to ask to stay all by herself, I’d say, “Yes, sometime, Elaine,” and her mother would say, “Another night.”   The she’d say, “Another night?” I agreed and she was happy. Recently, Elaine asked to spend the night almost every time I saw her. Last week she said, “Gran, can I stay all night with you and Pop? All by myself? I’ll stay in bed.” I nodded and hugged her. Elaine wrapped her arms around my neck and said, “Yes! Is it another night?”

Elaine says the funniest things. At suppertime, I offered peaches, cantaloupe, or blueberries. “Peaches,” Elaine said. “But I like oranges best. So can I have oranges? Will you go buy some now?”

Elaine stood on a chair close beside me while I cut up the peaches. I said, “Elaine, look at the seed. Do you want to hold it?” I laid the seed in her open hands. Her eyes grew big, she open her mouth wide and said, “Gran! That amazing!’   She squeezed and rubbed the seed until it was dry.

When I set a small bowl full of macaroni and cheese on Elaine’s placemat, she stuck her spoon in it and immediately said, “Gran, can I have milk in here?” I nodded and turned toward the refrigerator, but before I could answer, she said, ”May I have some milk in here? Pllllllease?” As I held a gallon of milk in my hand, I said, “Yes, I’m getting… “ Elaine’s voice overrode mine. “Gran, did you know I like milk in mac and cheese?” I assured I did. “How did you know that, Gran?” she asked.

Elaine likes to use the very small baby fork. She turned the fork upside down and propped the tines on the side her plate, the handle on the table. “Look, it’s a tunnel. Just a little one, like for ants.”

I really wanted my Grand to go to bed and stay there so I followed her home bedtime routine. She brushed her teeth. Took a warm bath. Put on her pajamas. And together we chose four books to read aloud. I sat on the couch and she settled herself onto my lap. She picked up Brown Bear, Brown Bear. “Read this one first!” Elaine said. As soon as I finished reading, she said, “Read it again and this time I’ll read.” She told the story as I turned the pages. Finally, Goodnight Moon was the last book to read. “Gran, did you know this book makes me really sleepy?”

By the time I read the last good night, Elaine was snuggled against me and asleep. Husband carried her to bed, and she didn’t get out of bed all night. There’ll be many more ‘another nights’ for Elaine.