There are times when change is inevitable but hard to accept. We settle into the comfort of the familiar forgetting that life is not stagnant. When our children are young, about the time we know how to handle a phase, they move into the next and put us at another loss, scratching our heads and challenging our parenting skills with their new behaviors.
I’ve kept my older grandson, Baker for two days a week ever since he was five months old. We’ve gone through all those stages of high chair to booster seat, walking behind a push toy to riding a tricycle unassisted, eating mushed up veggies to devouring a two-egg mushroom and cheese omelette by himself. He’s grown from babbling B sounds to conversations when he says, “Grammy, let me ask you a question,” and then proceeds to tell me something–but not ask a question.
Recently, Baker went to his first Durham Bulls Baseball game. They’re the Triple-A Minor league team that has a huge following in the Triangle area of North Carolina where we live. Since that night at the ballpark, Baker has been all about baseball– just like his dad, Brooks was as a boy. He didn’t bring his Tee-ball bat to my house–instead he picked up a stick and had me throw a tennis ball to him.
He hit an amazing number of pitches and then we practiced running the bases, with me yelling, “Be sure to tag the bag, Baker.” He loved running across the home plate and then we pretended we were at the Durham Bulls game. When there’s a home run, the mascot bull blows steam through his nostrils, his tail goes up and down, and red eyes light up. All the kids, all the fans, love it!
I’ve learned so much from keeping Baker and love how he told his parents, “I have fun at Grammy’s house.”
Over the past few months, Baker’s younger brother, Parks has become more active as he gets closer to his one year birthday on June 27th. My daughter-in-law, Emily has been working virtually most days and tending to Parks two days a week then he and Baker attend day care the other three. But now, little Parks is so busy that it’s impossible for her to keep him and keep up with her work. Emily and Brooks decided it’s best to switch Baker into full-time daycare and move Parks to Grammy’s on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
We spent his first day at Grammy’s acclimating. I went back to how you care for a younger child, scanning each room for anything he’d put in his mouth–which is anything that would fit! We sat on my playroom floor and put together the simple train puzzle with chunky pieces. He started getting the process and tried to put one of the pieces in place. Later we watched the same video on Youtube that Baker watched– the Mickey Mouse Club singing the ABCs with “All Aboard the Choo Choo Train.” I can’t believe it’s been a year and a half since I watched that with Baker. I know how quickly this time will fly and anticipate the sadness of when I’ll look back when Parks is turning three.
Later it was time to introduce him to my neighborhood. He’s too young to go to “Grammy’s Golf Course” as Baker refers to the five-hole putting green at our apartment complex. Instead, he’d ride in the stroller with stops to observe the squirrels and birds.
Soon it started to sprinkle and we returned to my house. After being confined in the stroller, he was ready to practice walking–which he does holding to furniture, occasionally standing without holding on.
“You’re almost there, Parks,” I told him and took his hand, helping him to walk a few more steps.
Eventually he tired of that and wanted to explore on the ground level, crawling about to discover Grammy’s place.
All was good for a while and then he started fussing; Time to eat.
I’m amazed at how the little fellow can put the food down. He is much smaller than Baker–weighing only 18 pounds with less than three weeks until his first birthday. Baker weighed twenty-five pounds at one year. But Parks can eat as much or more than Baker. Parks will scream if the food runs out and you’re not quick about getting to his next course.
My, oh my, Emily and Brooks will have quite a grocery bill when those boys are teenagers!
We got through our first day with only one minor ding on his forehead; learning to walk his hazardous.
Getting Parks ready for his daddy to pick him up, I looked into those dark eyes and wondered what I’ll discover as he unfolds before me– just as Baker did. Parks and I will develop our own routine that’s suited to his personality. He will grow and stretch me in new ways–just as his brother has.
I know I’m fortunate that my grandchildren live nearby and I see them often. People tell me that my son is lucky that I can help take care of his sons. And I would say that I’m lucky that I get to be so involved in their lives. They have increased my endurance with my eleven-hour days of childcare. Instead of having less energy, I have more energy because I have pushed my limit–and even went to dance lessons on Thursday after all day with Parks.
At the end of last week, after going the two extra days and not being out to go to Grammy’s, Baker was more involved when they had their group time at daycare–answering questions when before he hesitated. I was a school nurse for twenty years and I know that students who’re not there every day, who routinely miss days are not as fully involved as those who attend daily. The students who are out regularly—for whatever reason, have a harder time feeling fully part of the group. In daycare, they miss important days like Water Day or Pajama Day.
Today, Baker came by on his way to his first birthday party for a girl in his daycare class. He was excited, dressed in his coordinated black-and-white Under Armour short set and Nike shoes. He commented that his hair looked good.
He wanted to ride his trike and play with the toys at Grammy’s house–but he had to leave for the party. He looked and acted so grown up.
It’s bittersweet, watching him change and move into the next exciting phase of his life. Baker’s a sponge for learning and the hands-on activities at his daycare, that is like a pre-K class, are helping him to grow in new ways. Meanwhile, it’ll be the same with Parks, watching him progress through those stages— knowing that change is inevitable, and desired.
Life is dynamic, for my grandsons and for me. May I remember to savor each moment, each phase that my grandsons are going through, watching their growth and allowing for mine.
What About You?
What bittersweet changes are happening in your life or in the lives of those you love?
What memories will you carry with you into the next phase of life?
How can you allow these changes to help you to stretch and grow?