“Summer will end soon enough, and childhood as well.”
– George R.R. Martin
Although summer has come to an end, little Beej is growing up so quickly. He will be five soon and while that doesn’t seem old at all, it was only yesterday that his daddy was this age. Time can’t pass quickly enough for Beej but I want time to slow down as I savor every minute of this little boy’s life. There is something special about grandchildren that can’t be described- you need to experience it!
40 years ago, give or take a few days, Grandparents Day came to be. It’s self explanatory. It’s simply a day to honor grandparents. It’s not a big holiday. I doubt I’ll get any special recognition today and I’m not looking for it. That’s the funny thing about being a grandparent. The reward is in the being.
“Grandchildren are loving reminders of what we’re really here for.” -Janet Lanese
The other day while I was in the pick up line at school waiting for Beej to be released….yes, little Beej is in preschool now!… I got out of my car and came around to stand on the sidewalk. The man who had been leaning against the van in front of me in line took a few steps closer and commented on the weather. After a few moments of weather chit chat, he asked who I was waiting for. I told him it was my 3 year old grandson and he nodded, telling me he was also waiting for a 3 year old grandson. He went on to share that his kids dropped the grandkids off on their way to work and he drove them all to school. We found out that we both have 9 year old grandsons and wondered if they might be in the same class. (They are not.) It was a short, nothing to write home about, exchange but it was nice. It reminded me of days long ago when I stood outside another school waiting for my own kids come out, talking with other moms. Things have changed in the last 20 years. Way back (haha) grandparents showed up for concerts and graduations. Now they are as present in the school setting as parents! I’m hoping my “grandpa” friend is there when I pick up Beej on Tuesday. I’ve found that the moms prefer to sit in their cars until they see their child walking out. Although it might age me, I prefer the old way- standing outside chatting- and if it has to be with a grandpa, so be it!
“Grandchildren are the dots that connect the lines from generation to generation.” -Lois Wyre
Last week due to 48 hour shifts and a wedding, CJ and Beej spent 5 days straight with us. On day five, they went home with Daddy. That evening my son, Michael, sent the following text- “CJ will be calling you from our house phone.”
Minutes later I answered my phone, unsure what I was going to hear. Quickly dispensing with formalities, CJ said, “I just wanted to call to tell you goodnight.”
It seemed curious. Quite out of the ordinary. But I asked how his day went- “Fine”, asked if he was happy to be back home- “Yes”, and finally went into what has come to be our regular “closing” remarks when we leave each other. “Okay, well, you’ll spend tonight, tomorrow and the next night at your house and then Daddy will drop you off at school each day. On Friday, I’ll pick you up and you’ll spend the night here with me. I love you! Goodnight!” This has become custom because the schedule is not always regular and I hope to give CJ a sense of security in knowing what’s happening when. He seems to respond well to it.
A follow up conversation with Daddy filled me in on the reason behind the unexpected phone call. After five days with the grandparents here, CJ had struggled with settling in at home with Dad’s rules. He had pushed every boundary could find and a few he didn’t know were there. Now, let’s make one thing clear. Dad’s rules and Nonna’s rules are very similar. Due to the amount of time the boys spend here, we don’t have the luxury of spoiling them in the typical grandparent ways. And out of me and my husband, I’m the bad guy, the enforcer, the meanie.
CJ is not an easy kid to get close to and we have our ups and down, he and I. Then something like this happens- when he calls me because he needs that touchstone- and it’s the most precious gift he can give me. His trust.
“If your baby is ‘beautiful and perfect, never cries or fusses, sleeps on schedule and burps on demand, an angel all the time,’ you’re the grandma.” -Teresa Bloomingdale
With so many more grandparents helping their children raise their perhaps this day needs to pack more of a punch but given the spirit in which it was created, I’m sure that, like me, most grandparents get such joy from being with their little ones that there is no other gift that could be more precious.
I should have known better. I raised three children. I went through the terrible, tortuous, tricky, trying threes times three. As I like to remind these little boys, “I’m not new here!”
And yet, despite all indications that taking Beej to the grocery store was a bad idea that day, I went. It began with his firm assertion in the car. “I don’t want to go shopping.” He proceeded to punctuate his stand by, well….refusing to stand when I took him out of his car seat. I was determined to show him who was in charge. I carried him under my arm, no small feat when your baggage is a 34 lb. child flailing about and it’s icy and about 10 degrees out.
We made a grand entrance with Beej kicking and screaming and me trying to to stuff his legs into the leg holes in the shopping cart. As we made our way toward produce, which was especially crowded for 8:40am, he kicked his crying up a few more decibels and his boots off. I tossed them into the back of the cart and continued walking. Beej decided to rip his hat off his head. The only problem was, it was one of those cute ones with those braided yarn things hanging down on each side and I had tied them into a knot under his chin when he had tried to take it off back when we left the house. (Oh yes, this battle had begun long before the parking lot.) As he tried to pull the hat off, his cries reached hysterical levels when he couldn’t. I tried to slide it over his face but it wouldn’t give. We stood there with him screaming and me picking at the knot that I had tied much too tightly. Once the hat was untied and off his head, he resumed yelling. As I would pick up a fruit or vegetable, he would add that to his never-ending litany. “No, I don’t want bananas! Put them back!!!” (Whoever thought it was cute that he was so articulate ME??? was rethinking that!)
People openly gawked at us as we made our way through produce. I admit that I was defeated at that point but I refused to give in. Over 20 years earlier, with Beej’s daddy, I had walked out of a store or two, leaving my cart of unpurchased items behind. I was more experienced now and I would not be deterred… or obviously defeated.
When Beej spotted the display of toy cars that are on the end cap of every aisle in the store but especially by the snack foods….. you know the ones. The doors and trunk open. They’re $5.99 each. I’m sure you’ve seen them! … well, he drew on newfound energy and reached his peak. “I WANT TO GO OVER THERE!” he yelled, pointing at the cars. I answered in a soft voice (frankly, it was all I could muster), “No, we are not going to go over there. You are not getting a car.”
At that point, he clutched my purse strapped and wailed. I had the strength of a wet noodle and just wanted this ordeal to be over. I wasn’t embarrassed or upset or mad or frustrated. Beej was three years old. He was being three. He did not want to be there and he was making it known to me and everyone in a three aisle radius. I understood.
But we were there to shop and shop was what we were going to do. The only way he would learn boundaries and limits was if I made them perfectly clear. I acknowledged that he did not want to be there but we were not leaving before we were done shopping.
As I checked out, an employee helped me bag up my groceries and Beej flipped his switch. The storm clouds parted and sun shined down on him, illuminating his angelic smile and dimples and he even batted his eyes. Of course, the employee gushed and cooed at him. The electronic pony caught his eye and as sweet as pie he asked, “Please, Nonna, can I ride on the pony?”
Just as sweetly I smiled back at him and said, “I’m sorry, sweetie, but no you cannot. You screamed your way through the entire store. Maybe next time.”
And much to the employee’s surprise but not to mine at all, Beej returned my smile and chattered on about how he had been behaving (sometimes with a devilish glint in his eye) and how maybe next time would be better. And in the blink of an eye, the storm had passed and my sweet little boy was back.
Such is life with a three year old.
Although I have been back to the store a number of times since then, I freely admit that I time those trips during my Beejless hours. (Like I said- I’m not new here.)
And I have to admit that the 20-something me would have been in awe of my composure and calm throughout the experience. The now me just wanted it to be over.
Beej’s dad was my first three year old child and he was nearly my undoing back in 1993. In general, I find this little three year old exhausting more than anything else. I can’t speak for the other adults in his life.
Did your kids have an age that was just awful? ( I actually found the teen years to be more trying than the threes- but that might be because I spent 13 years in Teen Town.)
My plans for the fall have come to a halt. Or maybe just had to be revised. Due to circumstances beyond his control, my son finds himself needing some assistance in caring for CJ (almost 8) and Beej (approaching 3). Working a 24 on/48 off shift means that he needs more than just “keep an eye on the kids for a few hours” help. It requires at least two overnights and now that school has begun, on the average of three mornings getting CJ ready and off to school and then picked up and homework duty.
Cross Traffic Does Not Stop
Crossing the road both figuratively and literally can be quite tricky. I’m dealing with two children, who are quite precious to me, and although I know them almost as well as I knew their dad at these ages, I just never know what we will find around the corner. (or across the street). Whether it’s teething, an inability to sleep due to excitement, or a classic case of missing Daddy, I have to be prepared for anything.
My life has taken an unexpected detour. I have always enjoyed spending time with my grandsons, and this takes that togetherness up a notch. I am blessed to have a husband who loves our grandsons as much as I do and brings his own kind of grandfatherly goofiness and priceless assistance to our days and nights. We have easily fallen back into long forgotten routines from years ago. I am happy to give my son peace of mind while he works at a job that requires him to be alert and free from home distractions while on duty. I am lucky to have this special time with these guys!
“See any detour as an opportunity to experience new things.”
Do you want to know what I’ve been up to for the past five days? Just a little summer reading. According to my calculations, I have read over 90 books* in a five day period.
Yes, I’ve been on two year old duty on and off for a good part of the week, including many sleepovers, which explains my absence here on the blog. But if you think we were just sitting around reading books the entire time, you would be mistaken. Little Beej remains the busiest two year old around.
In addition to reading endless books, he played with cars (big and small), trains (Thomas and others), play food, puzzle letters, xylophone, piano, figures, and as you can see from the photos above- he re-distributed the fluff that Ari removed from her stuffed animal after I gathered it into a handful and he assigned the Teletubbies their positions on the fire engine.
We spent a lot of time in the bathroom and we talked about going potty a lot. We made little to no progress in that area but it really does provide some memorable conversations. He knows all the right answers. He informs me when he has pooped. He is holding it when he’s sitting on the potty chair. He has peed next to the potty chair, on his blanket and socks, on the rug in the bathroom…. Yes, it’s been a bonding experience for us- as if we needed any more of that!
“A toddler believes that if you love a person, you stay with that person 100 percent of the time.” -Lawrence Balter
Although the last week was unusual, at any given moment, I might find myself spending lots of time with Beej. I don’t mind. I love this little guy more than anything and I think he feels the same. When his Daddy came to pick him up, I explained that he was going home. “To Daddy’s house,” he clarified to himself. I corrected, “To your house where you live with Daddy.” Beej threw his head back and wailed in pure two year fashion, “Noooooooo. It’s not my’se (the two year old word for “my”) house. It’s Daddy’s house. I want to stay here.” This story has a happy ending. Beej is two (meaning his mood changes on a dime) and loves his Daddy and was happy to go home with him.
I know this time with Beej is precious and a gift and something I will always treasure. I also know it’s necessary and what’s best for Beej and I’m so grateful that I’m able to be here. Although it cuts into my writing time, it also gives me space, perspective and time to think while I’m enjoying this special little person that my son created (reminding me of a special little person I created so many years ago).
“Sometimes you need to talk to a 2 year old just so you can understand life again.” -Patricia Love
I’m working on finding a healthy balance. Writing and my blog is calling to me. I hope to get it right soon!
*Here is a list of the books B and I read- Ten Apples Up On Top (3 times), ABC Drive (+5 times), Star Wars A to Z (1 time), A You’re Adorable (4 times), The Golden Egg Book (2 times), Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (5+ times), Hooper Humperdink? Not Him! (5+ times), Where the Wild Things Are (3 times), Do Princess Wear Hiking Boots? (5 times), Jake Baked the Cake (2 times), Giggle, Giggle, Quack (5 times), Have You Seen My Potty? (3 times), Even Firefighters Go to the Potty (5+ times), Potty Time (2 times), Too Big For Diapers (2 times), I Can Go Potty (3 times), Your Personal Penguin (5+ times), Time For Bed (3 times), The Going to Bed Book (3 times), Goodnight Moon (3 times), Click Clack, 1-2-3 (5 times), Pajama Time, The Bunny Rabbit Show, and I know I’m forgetting a few more titles.
This week what began as a 2 day stint watching my two year old grandson, Beej, stretched to four. Fortunately it was a slower week in other areas of my life, so I had the time to spare.
My days were spent-
Playing with Thomas trains- but please know that the vintage (circa 1993) should never intermingle with the newer magnetic ones.
Watching Winnie the Pooh movies- Preferably Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree.
Standing in front of the VCR waiting for the video tape to rebobinar (since the VCR is set to Spanish)- And we do have a DVD/Blueray player, cable and Netflix but VHS tapes seem to be Beej’s favorite flicks.
Carrying a flailing, protesting, toddler through a parking lot- silently cursing the cart attendants for being so efficient that there were none in the cart corral.
Alternately looking for chickens up in the skylights or “Daddy climbing the ladder way up there” at Walmart
Confirming that Skarloey actually is Skarloey, unlike Wilbert, who obviously is not Oliver- Important stuff when you are an avid Thomas the Tank Engine aficionado.
Eating delectable meals, prepared in Beej’s own kitchen.
Reading Catch Me, Catch Me, Hippos Go Berserk, The Alphabet Book and Too Big for Diapers between 3-5 times each per day….. as well as countless other books.
Entertaining the folks at CVS Pharmacy trying to decipher the mysterious message Beej was trying to share that had something to do with honey pots.
Dashing to the bathroom, wrestling with pullups and straining to listen for any signs that Beej did indeed go potty like he insisted he did.
Although it might seem like a lot, the pace of a two year old- no matter how busy that little guy is- can be slower and simpler. It was a special time for the two of us and as always, I treasure our time together.