We're babysitting our sixteen month-old granddaughter for seventeen days. It’s been six days but the number of days doesn't matter when each day feels like a year. If you don’t hear from me in a few weeks, it’s because I’m recuperating in the old folks home.
Eden’s an easy toddler; she rarely cries and has a sunny disposition. She’s on a regular schedule and sleeps through the night but my body doesn’t seem to care. It’s been twenty-two years since I took care of a one year-old for more than three days. I don’t have the endurance I had in my twenties and thirties or the speed. Eden can run almost as fast as I can. That’s one reason women shouldn’t have babies at age fifty.
We have a two-story house with the bedrooms conveniently located upstairs. Five days into carrying Eden up and down the stairs, my muscles and spine opted out of the 22 lb. workouts. When RJ’s (Pop-pop) at work, Eden and I manage the stairs with the Stair Race Crawl. She always wins.
Eden calls me Nana, like my other two grandchildren. She doesn’t like it when I dress her or catch her dropping food to the cats from her highchair. She expresses her displeasure by changing my name. She yells, “No-na! No-na!”
Two of our three Siamese cats tolerate Eden. Thai is fascinated by her. He hung out with her for three days of hair and tail pulling. We told Eden, no and modeled the appropriate way to pet a cat. You’d think Thai would run away but he kept coming back for more toddler games. Eden was happy to play.
Juju or my cat as RJ loves to point out, is freaked out by the Alien Toddler Creature. He hisses when she's twelve feet away. Yesterday, he hissed at her wicker basket filled with baby lotion and diaper care products. It was sitting on the floor in front of the door to her room. Poor Siamese. It was the room he slept in before the invasion of The Baby Being from The Other Mother.
Eden says Pop-pop but she recently christened RJ "Hiya." She says Hiya with enthusiasm and I yell karate afterwards with sarcasm. I don’t understand why Eden doesn’t change RJ’s name when he scolds her for throwing a Lego at Thai or splashing in the toilet water. I’ll feel better when I hear her say, “No-Hiya!No-Hiya!” I'll add, "Bad Karate man."
Not much has changed in our physical environment except we have the leaning tower of Gerber Lil’ Meals in our pantry and we have to hurdle two baby gates to answer the phone. One-fourth of the living room is redecorated with toys and there are so many bath toys in the tub there’s hardly room for water.
I'm tired and in pain but I remind myself how I’ll feel when Eden is gone. Our days will seem long and boring. I’ll listen for her in the middle of the night until I remember she’s gone. I’ll wake up early and realize I can sleep in awhile longer. The lack of her endearing voice and the silence will be unsettling. It will bring back the forgotten pangs of an empty nest but maybe, just maybe, I’ll get a little rest.
Causes Jules Jacob Supports
Missouri Court Appointed Special Advocates Association, American Horticultural Therapy Association, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, National Jewish...