Last month my son Chris and his wife Allison flew to San Diego for a combination business/fun trip (some time spent in seminars for her but they built time before and after for fun for them.) They had asked if I as well as Allison’s parents would be willing to keep Lauren and Sean so they could go out of town together.
We conferred and GGN, Inc. (Gramps, Grams and Nana) divided up the days—I would get Tuesday morning through Friday evening and they would take over on Friday evening and hold down the fort until Sunday afternoon.
I will confess (as past readers know) that my track record regarding child care experiences has some asterisks on it as evidenced by stories on this blog—such as the time I basically closed down a quiet hotel restaurant area by taking Lauren and Sean with me to dinner (Introducing Sean William Haldeman April 2013) and then there was the story of the First Sleepover (March 2014).
I also know that I have a handicap with this when compared to Grams and Gramps—there are two of them and one of me. But I have never let my flying solo prevent me from trying. And the Gentleman Caller with Smiling Eyes (GCSE) offered to meet us for dinner or similar if need be. So, I thought “Why not? Surely I can do this!”
I am the eternal optimist.
I went over on Monday night and got settled into their guest bedroom. Chris and Allie left at 6:00 AM on Tuesday and I handled getting the kids up and taking them to daycare. We left home at 7:30 AM and everyone was dressed and had on their shoes and socks—they were all matching may I add. This task was made very easy by the fact that I did not have to feed them breakfast as they eat at The Learning Center (just had to give Sean a banana to inhale while sitting in his car seat) and Lauren dresses herself. I was starting to feel confident.
After work I picked them up and we went to Chick-fil-A for dinner. I handled ordering the meal and getting them to the seats and we ate dinner and I was able to go back and get ice cream for dessert and we even played on the playground. I then loaded them up and we drove back home, singing once again all the wonderful songs I have on their Spotify playlist (The Wheels on the Bus go Round and Round, Jesus Loves the Little Children, and so forth.) Lauren fell asleep in the car and Sean was pointing out to me all the various attractions that he could see (Car, Nana, Car) and saying YAY and clapping at the end of each song.
I was feeling really and I mean really good about my “Nana-Can-Take-Care-of-the-Grandchildren” Skills. Things were looking up! I had it all figured out…we would go inside and I would bathe Sean and Lauren would nap and that family on “Leave it to Beaver” would have nothing on me.
So, we park in the driveway. Lauren was still asleep. I get out of the car and open the garage and then unlock the door from the garage to the house so she can just get out and walk across the driveway and walk straight into the house. I wake her up and tell her to go into the house and lay down and I will get Sean. She gets out and starts walking towards the house. I go around to get Sean out of his multiple-buckles-and-snaps car seat with the big red “Eject the Child Button” in the middle of all the buckles (As he tells me when he points to the big red button……I do it myself Nana, I do it myself) and then we walk into the house. I look on the sofa in the family room and I do not see Lauren and then I look on the sofa in the living room and I do not see her and I think to myself……poor thing, she was so tired she went up to bed… and Sean is tugging at me and saying “maik—maik” which is Sean talk for milk so I walk him to the kitchen to get his milk and I am “chatting” with him and I was planning, once I had him settled, to go check on Lauren and just as I was putting the top on his sippie cup I hear this wailing and crying and wailing for N….…a..…..n….…a…….. and it does not sound right…..it is a cat? No, it sounds like Lauren but she sounds far far away or in a tunnel and I walk to the bottom of the stairs and keep hearing this wailing sound only to only realize that instead of going inside the house from the garage, she had walked around (which I did not see) to the FRONT door (in her defense, it is the one we always use) and had been locked out of the house. To make matters worse, it was hot, she was holding up a big box that UPS had left at the door and she was scratching at her legs and hanging off the door knob and kind of kicking at the door…. and sobbing.
I quickly opened the door and she fell inside crying and wailing. Her hair was sweaty and matted to her head and she was just sobbing. Sean immediately tried to drink some of his milk from his sippie cup and as I had been interrupted by her crying I had not put the top on tight enough and milk started dripping all over the floor and he was making sounds that indicated I needed to take care of that big mess on the floor…..as in RIGHT THEN.
I took Lauren in my arms and she was inconsolable and was sweating and the bug bites were starting to bubble up.
I felt totally awful ….. My first attempt at keeping the children by myself while Chris/Allie were out of town and I had locked their daughter out of the house!!!! I could see years later when Lauren was in therapy and talking about feelings of love and being abandoned that she would say something like “I thought I was loved by my Nana but then she locked me out of the house and my sense of security was shaken forever.”
So, I spent some time helping her get back under control and she told me she thought I locked her out and she had been soooo scared (MORE GUILT) I found some anti-itch spray in Chris’ bathroom and put some on her bug bites as well as a cold washcloth. Then I began the process of getting the evening chores done. I cleaned up the pool of spilled milk and got Sean bathed and to bed.
Our next hurdle was THE PHONE CALL. Chris and Allison were going to call us at 8 PM and ask how the day went. I had this great fear that the first thing Lauren would say was that I had locked her out of the house so we began practicing things she could say.
Right at 8 PM Chris called and asked how the day went…I told him it had been wonderful. I then very quickly asked Chris about his day and he sounded so very excited and happy—talked about spending the afternoon at the pool; what a great view they had from their room; and they were going out to dinner and he sounded so relaxed and happy that I could not see any reason to mention this one small detail about traumatizing his daughter by kinda sorta locking her out of the house. And Allison used to work for or with DFACS. I did not want to stir up any memories. So, I decided he could learn about this later.
As in when he reads this blog.
While Lauren shared her day with her mommy and daddy, I was in the background prompting her:
ME: Tell them you had ravioli for lunch today
Lauren: I had ravioli for lunch today.
ME: Tell them you went to Chick-fil-A and played on the playground.
Lauren: I went to Chick-fil-A and played on the playground.
ME: (thinking this was all they needed to hear.) Tell them you love them and bye-bye.
Lauren: I love you Daddy. Bye –Bye
Whew… but then we had to repeat this same conversation with mommy. Mommy, of course, tried to ask a few more questions but we escaped her scrutiny.
The rest of the week was a blur! There are so many stories to share and many “Oops” moments as well as moments that tugged at my heart. There is no way to put all of them in this blog….. but just a few memories from that week….
Random thought on Thursday morning as I was driving to work…. Hmmmm…did I brush my teeth this morning? Hmmm….. do I have any mints in my desk?
Kraft Macaroni and Cheese in the cardboard blue box–it is still the cheesiest.
On Tuesday I went to work wearing make-up and earrings that matched my outfit and my hair was styled; by Thursday I was grateful to find the time to put on some lipstick ………I could not find my earrings…. and I was considering wearing a baseball cap to work.
Picnic at the pool on Nana day on Friday……… WHAT WAS I THINKING??? I actually thought I could TAKE LAUREN AND SEAN BY MYSELF TO THE POOL AND STILL FORM SYLLABLES AT THE END OF THE DAY??? This fun outing involved: packing a picnic lunch of which I forgot the bread for the sandwiches so we ate the ham and cheese al la carte style with our fingers and I forgot the knife to make the peanut butter crackers so we dipped the crackers into the peanut butter jar and I forgot the napkins so we licked our fingers …I also packed…..drinks…cheetos…teddy grahams…a basket of pool toys… towels… swimmies… sunscreen… swimming noodle… cell phone …. and then I had to get all the stuff into the car and then get it from the car to the pool which took, of course, more than one trip while leaving the kids safely buckled in their car seats so no random cars would hit them and then I had to unbuckle them one at a time from the many buckles and snaps car seats and get them out of the car (stay on the sidewalk Lauren) and then hold their hands and walk them to the pool and get sun screen on and tell them to stay away from the pool until I get their swimmies on and then I had to get their arms in their swimmies and buckle them in the back all while Lauren kept saying can I get in the pool now and that’s enough sun screen Nana and I want to get in the pool Nana and Sean kept telling me the pavement was too hot as he danced around in his bare feet (hot hot aggughgh Nana hot hot) and statements came flying at me at 90 miles an hours such as Nana can I play with the pool toys now and watch me Nana and can I have some cheetos now and don’t splash me and I want something to drink and ………….. whose idea was this after all??
Oh, yeah………. Mine.
But the moments of chaos that week were also balanced by moments of joy …….wearing to work the necklaces that Lauren had made for me the night before; taking a selfie of me and Sean at the Mexican restaurant to email to Chris and Allison; Sean and I snuggling in bed on Friday morning with his head on my shoulder; the joy in Lauren’s face as we raced each other across the pool; watching them play at the Marietta Square; eating ice cream and the smiles on their faces and the laughter that would spring forth from me as I viewed the pure ridiculousness of some of the situations I found myself in.
And the GSCE once again fulfilled his offer of support as he met us for dinner one night and he joined us at the pool (his schedule was such that he got to miss the chaos of our arrival at the pool but he graciously helped me pack the car when we were leaving the pool.) His presence added smiles to all our faces.
I remain committed to sharing the small moments of joy that are present in my very ordinary life. And my life is truly a very ordinary life…. there are no fancy Cinderella-princess balls to go to and no extravagant late night dinners at 4 star restaurants and no moments where I make powerful life or death decisions…..but that does not diminish the importance of those small patches of time where joy and laugher exist. I realize more and more that the trick to enjoying life is to recognize and treasure those patches of time whenever they occur…. even if they are in the midst of spilled milk or lost shoes or peanut butter jelly sandwiches.
So, with that in mind…. some pictures from a joy filled week beginning with ice cream at Chick-fil-A on Tuesday night and ending appropriately with ice cream at Sweet Treats on Friday night.
Ice Cream at Chick-fil-A—Lauren’s Necklaces and Cup of Joe to Go—Sean’s First Selfie—Nighttime Chores—Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (It’s Still the Cheesiest)—Going to the Pool—Sean at the Pool—Lauren at the Marietta Square—Ice Cream at Sweet Treats