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Overnight with Grands

searchSon asked, “Think you and Dad could handle our three for 24 hours?” Translation: Will you stay overnight at our house with our three children?

            “Yes, we’ll be glad to!” I said. We grandparents are happy to have Grands to ourselves. So Son and Daughter-in-Law planned a one-night, mini vacation. The main concern for Husband and me was we don’t know our Grands’, ages 1, 3, and 5, routines and likes and dislikes since Son’s family lives 1,000 miles away and we don’t see them as often as we wish.

Thankfully, their mother wrote good notes. Snacks: apples cut in slices. (Peeled for Dean. Unpeeled for Neil.) Strawberries and white cheese sticks. (Whole for Dean and Neil. Small pieces for Anne.) Details for meals, rest and bedtime routines, phone numbers, even a letter giving Husband and me authorization for medical care. Our Grands’ parents thought of everything. Well, almost.

The only mention of Baxter, their ten-year-old, ninety-pound boxer, was about his food. About 5:30 p.m. – 1½ scoops. Morning – 2 scoops. Baxter knows Husband and me well. Before the Grands were born, he was first to welcome us. Baxter still hangs his head over our laps when we sit down, and he brings us his raggedy Oscar the Grouch stuffed toy to throw. We know when he stands by an outside door he needs a potty break and where he sleeps.

Baxter is a well behaved, loving dog and practically cares for himself, but that night he didn’t understand the plan. So we’d be close to our Grands during the night, their parents insisted we sleep in their bed. At bedtime, I awoke Baxter from his nap on his blanket in the den. He stumbled, half-asleep, out the backdoor and drank water after he came inside. Husband called for him to follow us upstairs to our one-night bedroom and his every-night room. He turned his head from side-to-side before slowly going up the steps.

“Get on your bed, Baxter,” Husband said. I closed the bedroom door. Baxter stood next to his bed on the floor and then walked around the bedroom. “Maybe he can sleep in his crate tonight,” I suggested. He refused to go into his crate in another room and followed Husband back to the bedroom. “Let’s get in bed and maybe he’ll get on his bed,” I said. Baxter stared at Husband and me as if to say, “You shouldn’t be here.” We didn’t leave and finally Baxter lay down.

Whew, everyone in bed. I prayed that all slept through the night. And everyone did, except Husband and me. Baxter’s snoring and scratching and thumping against the wall were sounds we weren’t use to.

When our Grands’ parents came home, Husband and I reported that we had fun and all went well. Just as planned. The children ate well, played happily, sat in our laps for bedtime reading, brushed their teeth, and went to bed just a little later than their normal time. And I rocked one-year-old Anne longer than usual at bedtime. Everyone ate a good breakfast: fruit and yogurt.

Later, I told Son that Baxter didn’t go to bed as expected and woke us during the night. “Oh, yeah,” Son said, “We don’t always keep him in our bedroom with the door closed anymore. He makes a lot of noise. Maybe we should’ve told you it’s fine for Baxter to sleep on his bed in the den.”

Yes, maybe. But Baxter’s nighttime noises were my excuse for an afternoon nap. Why else would I have been so tired?

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Becoming the Big Sister

 

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At the lofty age of 4 ½, Ruth has many nights of experience over her little sister Elaine who is only 2 ½.  Ruth had spent the night with Husband and me about every third week for the past two years.  And even though Elaine has stayed with us several nights, last week was the first time these two sisters have stayed together.  Just the two of them, without their two older siblings who usually lead the way for these two little sisters.

 

While we ate supper, Ruth said, “Elaine, after we eat, we’ll go in Pop and Gran’s bedroom and dance.  Okay?”  Roll and skip and hop and twirl to the melodies of Old McDonald had a Farm and The Itsy Bitsy Spider.

 

When I said it was almost time to put on pajamas, Ruth took charge.  “Elaine, stop!” she said.  “We’re going to put on our pajamas and brush our teeth and then Gran will read us some books.”  When Ruth stays alone, she plants herself in either Husband’s or my lap and stretches out reading time.  But not this night.  “Elaine, let’s sit on the floor together,” Ruth said.  I sat in a wingback chair, read, and showed the girls the pictures.  After the first book, Ruth wiggled beside me in my chair and whispered, “Elaine might want to sit in your lap.”  With both girls close, I read another book and Ruth shared words of wisdom.

 

“Elaine, do you know what we eat for breakfast at Pop’s and Gran’s?”  Ruth asked.  Elaine shook her head.  It’s hard for her to talk with her thumb in her mouth.  Ruth said, “Oatmeal Squares.  Do you know what Gran puts on them?”  Elaine didn’t.  “Sprinkles.  Do you know why we get sprinkles?”  I think Elaine had stopped listening.  “When you stay in your bed and don’t get up, you get sprinkles.”

 

I didn’t know that breakfast sprinkles were perceived as a reward for staying in bed.  And if they are, then I’ve given the reward many times when it wasn’t warranted.  “Now, Elaine, Pop will take us to bed.  You stay in your bed (a crib) and I’ll stay in mine (a king size bed.)  We’ll be right in the same room,” Ruth said.

 

Ruth told me, “Gran, I can get up and get Elaine a drink if she needs one.  You and Pop don’t have to come upstairs.”   I wish all had gone according to her plan.  Ruth stayed in her bed, except when she got up twice to hand Elaine a glass of water.  But, Husband and I each ‘checked on’ Elaine several times before she finally fell sleep.  The next morning Ruth said, “Gran, I think me and Elaine both need sprinkles.  She tried really hard to stay in her bed.”  What’s cereal without sprinkles?

 

Lest you think a four-year-old is capable of bestowing sisterly love and guidance throughout an entire evening and morning, you should know that there were some glitches.  When big sister pushed a drawer shut on little sister’s fingers.  When big sister wanted the toy that little sister held in her hands.   When little sister wanted to put on her socks without big sister’s help.

 

This overnight visit reminded me that children need opportunities to be in charge.  A chance to be the leader and the one who knows what to do.  And don’t we all?

 

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