I am in full grandma mode these days. Nearly every week for a period of two months my husband and I are making the 3-hour trip to the other end of the state to help with our daughter’s family while her mother-in-law, who usually is on call nearby, is out of the country. We spend two nights and the better part of three days. It is a privilege and lots of work. The six-year-old is mostly in school but a very dynamic presence when she is home. We spend most of our time with Ethan, who is going on 19 months.
Two babysitters for one little boy? When we made this arrangement I told my husband to bring his computer along so he could do his thing while I handled the childcare. But it turns out Ethan really likes his grandpa, so Vic has become his main man. That frees up Grandma for cooking and other household chores, which I don’t mind. It’s fun to watch the two of them. When we arrived last week at the dojo where Ethan’s parents work, he came charging down the hall, screaming with delight, straight past me into his grandpa’s arms.
Although Ethan is perfectly capable of walking, running, climbing, and jumping, he likes Vic to carry him. Vic is tall. Ethan likes the view from up there. Me, he takes by the hand and leads around. I’m not much better than ground level as far as he is concerned.
He’s happy exploring the world, being outside. Finding sticks in the backyard. On a warm day after a rain I took him to the parking lot across the street and he discovered the joys of puddles, his own splash power, the satisfaction of a well-aimed stone. Shriek, shriek.
Ethan is an expert communicator but doesn’t have the patience yet for using many words. He relies on body language, pointing, nodding, head-shaking, hand-clapping, and grunting–eh, eh, eh–to communicate urgency or “you’re on the right track” when you’re guessing what he wants. When thwarted, rather than cry he’s likely to throw himself facedown on the floor.
He seems eager to impress you with how well he understands your words, however, following instructions and suggestions to a T. “Sit in your chair.” “Help pick up the blocks.” “Did you poop?” (Nod.) This ready compliance is likely to end in a few months when he discovers the all-purpose NO.
The other day we took him for his first salon haircut. Ethan is an outgoing little boy but something set him off and he became alarmed. He made the square mouth, his eyes brimmed with tears, but you could tell he was trying hard not to cry. He was being brave. The stylist worked as fast as she could, maybe too fast, and I had to even up the bangs afterward.
In a month our son and his wife are expecting their first child, also a boy. They’ve been in Vermont for five years but now live not far from our daughter and in a year will move to a permanent home a little farther away but still in Michigan. We are greatly looking forward to our third grandchild. Each one is a very special human being. Being a grandparent is the best!