Wednesday, February 24, 2010

New Baby Arrives...

The phone rang at 5:30 a.m. I jumped out of bed and ran to the phone. "Mama, we're on our way to the hospital."  
"Did your water break,? I asked her. "No, but I've been in labor since around 2." Quickly she told me the details. They'd left Rebecca still asleep with a teenage neighbor sleeping on their couch until I got to the house. Rebecca, my 5 year old granddaughter, had been out of preschool most of the week with a really bad cold and cough. I was hoping she'd be completely well before the baby was born.

"Get your coffee before you drive, Mom,"  my daughter said. 

I assured her I wouldn't drive until I was wide awake and hung up. Still a bit groggy, I had a few minutes of wondering what to bring, then making a small pot of coffee, and whispering prayers for my daughter. I prayed for a short easy labor and a healthy baby. I kept up the prayers while I brushed my teeth and packed a small bag with clean clothes, poured a cup of coffee to bring, and while I was driving to my daughter's home.
Anna was born 4 hours later, healthy and beautiful. In every way a little twin of her big sister, the baby's facial expressions, her blond eyebrows, tuft of hair on top, the way she looks when she's about to cry mirrored Rebecca. Her skin was pink and perfect. The short labor must have contributed to her flawless skin. She didn't look like she had been through the trauma of birth. Rebecca, on the other hand, had this miserable suction machine attached to her head during delivery. Her head had been literally bent out of shape. The nurse, trying to not scare the parents, had used the swaddling blanket to wrap Rebecca's head  so she looked like a tiny Islamic girl.

After a while my son and my grandson, Aiden. came over so the kids could play. We arranged a "Big Sister" party for lunch time. A few hours later, my daughter- in- law showed up  with a bouquet of pink helium balloons and  a white chocolate cake. We called for pizza. Aiden's little sister, my 7 month old granddaughter, Franny, sat in the middle of the living room rug surrounded by baby toys, but mostly she adored watching the older kids playing. Her eyes followed their every move. Rebecca and Aiden competed against each other by making funny faces and silly noises to see who could make the baby laugh the hardest.

The tension and excitement of the day began to wear on Rebecca. She wanted Aiden to go away. Every toy he picked up annoyed her. Somehow she scratched her toe, a small injury, but her faced crumbled.  Rebecca burst into tears, sobbing. I held her tight telling her it would be okay. I kissed her toe. She looked up at me, "I just miss my mom so much." 

I just held her until it passed. The pizza arrived. I could see her struggling with her emotions. Her cough and cold prevented her from going to the hospital to see her mom and the new baby. She was being brave, but there was more underneath it. I think Rebecca glimpsed an understanding that her world was about to really change. As much as she wanted the new baby sister, she wasn't the only child anymore. For her, that was a good thing. She needed a sibling to balance out the adoration and attention only a first child gets, but having to share her mother is another matter. It's also a necessary reality, but still, my heart aches for her.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Gramma, You My Best Friend

I was really sick earlier in the week so I didn’t pick Aiden up from school. I called to talk to my son, then asked to say goodnight to my grandson. Aiden picked up the phone, then asked in real seriousness, “Why you no pick me up, Gramma Janny?”  He sounded really worried. His other grandmother picked him up.

I said to him, "Well,  I thought Grandma Patty would enjoy seeing your school."  But he sounded really concerned so I told him I promised to be there in a couple of days. He’s so funny. I miss him when I’m not there to get him. His other grandmother lives far away so she only sees him a couple of times a year. I don’t know how she can stand it. I need to make  cards today for Rebeeca and Aiden.

The next day I made Valentine cards for the kids and grandkids. I bought Rebecca some teeny real baby Valentine t-shirts for her doll, Sesame Street hair ties, and a heart Pez dispenser and candy. She got so much stuff from her grandfather it looked like Christmas. I only stayed for a minute or so because my voice was completely gone. I don’t think I’ve ever had laryngitis before.

A few days later I felt better and was able to resume picking Aiden up at school. It was pouring rain again. We both got soaked even though I had an umbrella. From the knees down, we were both sopping wet. When we got home, I had Aiden change his clothes. Then I gave him his Valentine with the bubblegum flavored tootsie pop. He said, Yummy,” then licked it for an hour. He also found the Pez container to be very wonderful the way it shoots out one candy at a time. I knew he'd want me to start working as soon as we arrived home.  "Not today, honey. My back hurts." He wanted me to vacuum, so I let him do it instead of me. He did a great job.

The following day, I was having major problems with my car registration so I decided I had to go in person, never a good idea and not with a tired 3 year old. But I had no choice so Aiden and I went to the DMV. I had tucked away a grape tootsie pop in my purse to keep his occupied while we waited. I had an appointment, but still we had to wait.

He started to have a fit, but when I gave him theTootsie Pop he started to settle down. After a few minutes, he began giving me sticky kisses on my cheeks, on my sweater, on my hands. We finished our business and drove the 3 blocks to my son's house.

Aiden hadn’t taken a nap at school and with the sugar he was wild by the time we got home. He wanted me to help him wash dishes and again he wanted me to vacuum. I let him do it which he thoroughly enjoyed.

When I was leaving he threw his arms around my neck and gave me a big hug and told me, “Gramma, you my best friend.” 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I Just Wanna be the FUN Grandma...

It was a dark and stormy day. Parked in front of Aiden’s school because my dollar store umbrella fell apart exposing broken metal spokes. Right after that I got in trouble for parking wrong.

I found Aiden, put his orange jacket on him and zipped him up. He seems to be in a cranky mood lately. If I don’t do exactly what he wants he cries and has a fit. I wasn’t sure I signed on to do discipline. I just want to be the fun Gramma.

When we arrived home I was trying to think of a rainy day project. Throwing a sheet over the table and handing him my flashlight, I stood back to watch him climb into the tent I made him. It was really dark inside. Aiden explored every inch of the tent with the flashlight. He seemed to really love it.

Lately he’s been putting his arms around my neck and putting his head on my shoulder. He stays there for a few minutes without saying anything. Wow.

Aiden still hasn’t gotten over the freedom of being in a big boy bed. He’s waking Hollis and Randy up several times a night. They both have dark circles under their eyes. I was a lot younger parent than my kids so I can sympathize with them.

The next day Aiden and I had a play date with Rebecca. They are so good together, these little cousins. Aiden finds her so funny, and Rebecca defers to Aiden’s being littler than her.

Rebecca promptly gets ready by putting on her pink and gold princess dress, pink plastic high heels and a fuchsia colored princess crown-too funny. Then she found her old frog costume for Aiden and the danced and fell down and danced and leapt in the air and she pointed her toes in her pink ballet slippers and twirled and crashed into Aiden and they started all over again.

Aiden has been terrified of Rebecca’s cat, Caroline. Aiden would usually jump into my lap and scream whenever Caroline crossed his path. This time I told Rebecca to go find the Pounce, a kind of kitty cookie. So I let Aiden give the cat the treats one by one. Then he patted the cat and the cat sniffed him and purred. Aiden, with his one sided dimpled smile, said to Rebecca, “I love your titty.”

Monday, February 15, 2010

Like Puppies at the Pound...

Aiden watches for me through the big window in his classroom. He is so happy to see me that he runs at me yelling ,"Gramma!” throwing his arms around my thighs. "Why don't we go outside and take some action shots, sweetie?" He takes my hand to lead me outside.

I brought my camera to take his picture at the new school. I said “Smile, Aiden” and he gave me this twisted forced camera smile. I said, “Knock it off, handsome. Just show me your dimples.” And he did, while hanging from the jungle gym and flying down the slide. Just a few weeks ago he was afraid of trying these things, now he's an expert.

All the attention starved children at his school come outside to follow me all over the playground, wanting me  to take their picture, wanting to talk, wanting me to notice them. I’m some sort of grandmother archetype to the under 4 set. They act like attention starved puppies at the pound. It’s too sad. Except for a tiny Asian girl had just woken up from her nap, sort of hysterical, with snot all running down her nose into her mouth. She looked at me and screamed.

Aiden and I went straight home where we watched an hour of Berenstein Bears, then vacuumed and emptied the diswasher, two of Aiden’s favorite activities. We set the table and started making a  dinner of vegeburgers and tomatoes. I cut the tomatoes into a half way slice and gave Aiden a butter knife to finish going through them. He loved it.

My son, Randy walked in and Aiden said, “Dinner’s ready."  Once again, Aiden wants me out the door pronto. I think he can't take the heady stimulation of all of his parents and me all at once.
He yells, “See you tomorrow, Gramma," as he pushes me out the door.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Aiden Starts Preschool-Leaving Blue Blanky and Pacey Behind

     I go to Aiden’s fancy new preschool to pick him up. It’s his first day and he is 3 years old. I’m anxious about being on time because they charge $10 per minute if you’re late so I get there at 2:45 pm instead of 3 pm. I'm armed with an elaborate door code and emergency phone numbers on orange AstroBright paper in my wallet so I won't lose it. I'm hoping Aiden has had a good day.
     My daughter-in-law says that when they arrived at the school this morning one of the little girls was sitting in the circle with a big pink pacifier in her mouth. Aiden, who had been recently been bribed out of his own “pacey” looked at her as if to say, “What’s that all about?” I thought you told me they weren’t allowed!”
     The school is beautiful and new, very clutter free and organized. I punch in the secret code to get into the school and I sign my name in the book that says I picked him up.All the classrooms have large windows in them so you can see what's going on. I'm peering through each one looking in each room for a little red haired boy.
     I see him in the last class at the end of the hall-all toddlers. He sees me first and his face lights up. He has a dimple in his left cheek that just slays me. He yells, “Gramma” and runs over to give my legs a hug and I extend my reach over several little people to introduce myself to his two teachers. I find out he ate most of his lunch, but not his yogurt.
     There is a tiny Asian boy stretched out on one of the nappy cots. He looks like he has been through hell. He’s on his back, arms and legs akimbo, looking like he is in the deepest sleep of his life. His face is red and blotched like he fell asleep crying. Another mom comes in at the same time. I overhear the teachers asking why the mom didn’t celebrate the girl’s birthday at school. The mom is embarrassed, but says “Well I’m working the day shift, my husband is working a night shift, we were busy…blah blah blah. “ I’m beginning to think how lazy can you be, lady? That is, for Christ’s sake, too much. I feel bad for being judgmental, but I end up feeling bad for the girl and the teachers, too.
     The teacher, Miss Daisy, tells me Aiden cried a little during transition times, but that he had a generally good day. He did not go poop, but went in the toilet and urinated. She gives Aiden a big hug and a high five for being a big boy. We thank her and wave “bye.”
     We drive home and both of us are kind of quiet, I didn’t want to freak him out with a lot of questions. We have orange juice and cut up pears while watching  “Berenstein Bears.” He sits motionless, except for reaching for the fruit, with his blue blanky up next to his cheek.
     Then we unloaded the dishwasher, loaded it again, and set the table for their dinner. Hollis came home exactly at 5:00 p.m.She told me that since Aiden moved into a bed and out of his crib he’s been waking up really early, sometimes 5 a.m. My son, Randy went looking for a gate for his room. Aiden is really upset about it. They keep telling him to use his words instead of screaming so this is what he said: “I do not want to be locked up. It makes me really mad. I want to come out of my room when I wake up.”
     Aiden turns to me, now that his mother is home, and says, "Bye bye, Grandma." He practically pushes me out the door. We kiss and hug and I promise to see him the next day at 3:00 p.m.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sleepover at Grandma's

Two weeks ahead of time I ordered the newest Angelina Ballerina from Netflix so she’ll have a movie we both will like. It’s actually not a stretch because Rebecca is thrilled with anything on TV. Her parents don’t have cable by choice so it’s an exotic thing for her to watch Sprout at my house.

Her latest habit is to arrive somewhere, my house or others, and quickly change into a princess costume. My daughter is a teacher in a lovely affluent town and all the mothers save their girl’s cutest hand-me-downs for her thus an envious wardrobe and a corner of her closet busting open with a multitude of dress up ball gowns with plastic high heels to match.

When Rebecca doesn’t understand something or more likely, she thinks I don’t understand something, she will yell out in frustration, “I’m so ‘fused,” or “Gramma, you are so ‘fused.”  I asked her why she changed clothes so often and that was her impatient reply.  She's probably wondering why I don't change my clothes several times a day.

I have to admit, with my 70’s feminist leanings, to really hate the princess crap. I love dress up for kids, but the princess stuff used to make me sick. Now it just does bothers me on other children who are not my grandchildren. Well, and a lot of the Disney stuff as well bothers me for a lot of reasons (Mermaids give up their voice to marry princes).

While I’m fiddling with the DVD player, Rebecca puts on her green gown with a bodice covered in green sequins and the skirt is several layers of green netting.

So we began our evening with Angelina, followed by meatloaf and Mac and cheese (her favs). We played Connect 4 even though she knows I hate board games. Then bath time, which I admit is a struggle. She has long thick beautiful hair that is really hard to wash and detangle. I put her a warm tubby with pink peppermint soap and new net scrubbies. Then I have to negotiate washing and drying, pouring water to rinse, etc. I gave her some of my pink shaving cream which is really fun to squish in your hands, a general rinsing, then ending in Baby Magic Lotion and powder, pushing her into a lavender sleepy suit and zipping her up.

I dread brushing her hair, but as she gets older, she has more tolerance for tugs and pulls on her hair. Afterwards, when we are all done with nightime preparations, I give her the world’s tiniest vanilla ice cream sundae, topped with a swirl of caramel sauce, and a flower of whipped crème on top.We read three books. She scrubs her teeth with training toothpaste (what is that?). Her mommy calls to say goodnight.

Then I put her to bed on her make believe bed, 2 bright blue outside lounger cushions covered with her lime green sleeping bag and blankets.

She asks for a lullaby so I give in. I sing Rock a Bye Baby. She really likes my voice, she’s said to me before. My voice is awful, but geez isn’t that nice? She’s asleep in 5 minutes.
Around 11 when I’m crawling into my bed, she wakes up and asks to crawl into my bed. I say," good fine."

But the combination of our breathing and the heat from her little body in the fleece sleepy suit is too much.

She curls into my back like a baby opossum. It’s so deliciously comfortable I can’t stand it. Then I get really  really hot.

She says, “Gramma, your hair is tickling my face.” It makes me laugh.

But still no sleep.

I finally say, “If we’re not asleep in 10 minutes, I think you will need to go back to your own bed. “ In a couple of minutes, Rebecca crawls over me to get back to her own bed.

I fall asleep for a while, then Rebecca wakes me with, “I have to pee.”

When she gets back in bed she says very sweetly, “Grandma, my dad has this thing he wears on his nose when he snores. Maybe you could try that?” Which cracks me up. Then she starts singing very softly “Jingle Bells.”

She falls asleep somewhere around 1 am. I’m staring at the ceiling listening to her breathe for a long time before I finally drop off.