“Twinkle, twinkle little star … .” If I sang it once, I sang it 20 times for my 3-year-old grandson the other night. “Twinkle little star,” came back his toddler-size voice. “Abbabova world all high, like a diamond sky,” came his way of singing along.
He was all curled up in my lap, container of milk in one hand, the other clutching a portion of one of his favorite soft blankets. It was time for him to go to sleep and he wasn’t having any part of it. Although he was sleepy, he was more intent on directing the singer. Me. I’m sure he’s the only person in the world who appreciates my singing. And he has his role as vocal director down pat. “You sing, grandma.” “I sing. Not you.” “We sing.” And don’t mess up and try to sing when he doesn’t want you to. Pay attention! Or the warm little bundle gets agitated and fusses.
Life’s become very interesting as my husband, papa, and I raise our grandson. It wasn’t what I expected to be doing at this time in my life. Help-out, yes. Help-out a lot, OK. But Tom and I have been fully involved with our grandson’s life for well over a year and more. He lives with us. His parents live in other communities. And despite the hustle and bustle of having a toddler in the house, the demands of snack times, rushing to the store for those all too necessary gallons of milk, the extra washing, and playtime, playtime, playtime, I wouldn’t change it.
Most grandparents, not all of course, have the advantage of raising a child, their child, from infancy. He’s my first baby. I was around nieces and nephews when I was growing up, but that was different. If I wanted to change a diaper I was welcome to do so. If I didn’t want to be bothered there was always someone else to do the job. Our daughter, the mother to our grandson, was just turning 7 when we adopted her.
I was very fortunate when our grandson was born. A woman in my office was the mother of a toddler. I asked her so many questions. She didn’t seem to grow tired of the questions or at least she put up a very good front.
I’m very familiar with a grandparent raising a child. My grandmother raised me. My parents lived just across the street and I saw them nearly every day, but it was my grandmother who did all the work. With only a few exceptions she cooked and cleaned for me. Taught me to ride a bicycle. Provided important supervision and direction in my life. She’s the one who read to me when I was little, made sure I went to school every single day and taught me the importance of using my imagination.
My husband, on the other hand, has four daughters of his own and was a very involved parent. He changed diapers, fed kids, got up in the night with them, went to school functions and sporting events. He was there to sooth scraped knees, earaches, hurt feelings and dry tears. And he was there to walk them down the aisle. We have an older grandson by his oldest daughter and her husband. But they live elsewhere in the state — sometimes the nation — and Katie’s always there to take care of her son. We just get the occasional visit, and Tom gets weekly contact by iPhone.
Despite knowing the ropes and what’s demanded at first one age and then another, Tom’s had his share of adjustments too. First of all, this is a boy. And they’re different than girls, even if those girls were rough and tumble and excelled at sports. He believes that he should be able to get a certain number of projects done on any given day, and the older Caden gets, the more demanding he gets. And that means the fewer projects Tom can count on getting done around the house. In the summer, where Caden used to be content watching his papa mow the lawn or walk along beside him holding his hand, he now demands to be more involved. He pushes the mower all over the front yard at every opportunity. Of course it isn’t running, but for now that doesn’t seem to matter. He’s not fond of the loud noise. And during our January snows, he wasn’t happy playing in the snow while papa shoveled spots in the driveway for the cars. He had to grab a shovel too and help. The problem there was that he wouldn’t put the snow off to the side. He wanted to dump it on the spots that Tom had already cleared.
So there’s always something going on — if it’s not some kind of upheaval — then he’s running madly about singing or shouting, or he’s mad at someone or something.
So what’s the point of my column, other than announcing that I’m a grandmother? I would really like to hear from other grandparents, even great-grandparents — who are raising their grandchildren. I’d like to interview you. I’d like to hear about how it’s different the second, or possibly the third time around for great-grandparents. I’ve met some who are having very difficult times making ends meet, others who find they’re enjoying the experience so much more now than with the demands of their own children.
So, please, grandparents out there who are in similar situations who wouldn’t mind sharing your stories, give me a call at 283-0800 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.