As we sat at the table looking over the menu, Sarah handed the smaller version of the day’s offerings to Asher. He held it up in front of his face perusing the choices as if he knew exactly what his would be. Then an older couple moved over to the table across from us and he turned and said, “Hi!” The gentlemen took his hand and responded in kind, as Asher flashed those beautiful long eyelashes accompanied by a smile. What a hoot! During lunch he played with a miniature Batman, Darth Vader, and some other red clothed guy while he jabbered and ate. That’s how we communicate. He talks and I pretend I understand completely. After lunch, as we headed for the car, he waved and said “Bye” to the restaurant.

So, that was two times that I heard him say the appropriate word, at the appropriate time. Hi, and bye. What a rush!  Probably all grandparents feel this way. Early on his parents taught him a bit of sign language. The first time I saw the spark of understanding was when he had finished eating, and let me know it by waving his hands over the tray to the high chair. Shortly after, while we were shopping he patiently allowed me to push him in the stroller while Sarah and I contemplated floral selections for a Christmas swag. Finally he had enough, and waved his hands over his lap to let me know he was done. And that too, was a rush.

When I was a kid, longing for something in the not too distant future, my mother would tell me not to wish my life away. I often remember that thought, and then remind myself to savor the moment. But at the same time, I long for the day when I can talk with my grandson. There are so many things I want to tell him about. Like pollywogs and how they become frogs, and all about the cool things that live under fallen timber. And how important it is to walk carefully around the wildflowers. I want to tell him about snowflakes and raindrops. And how everyone is special, including him.

Sarah will probably say, “Soon, Grasshopper.” And she’s right. I know that because as I buckled him into his car seat, put his lovey (gauze blanket) on his lap, and moved toward his mouth with the pacifier (gear for travel and sleeping mode) he put his hand up and said “Nooooo!” Usually he just turns his head away when offered something he does not want. I looked at his mom, but she didn’t share my shock and awe – just a big smile. So then I did what any self-respecting grandmother would do. I tried it two more times and the response was the same…”Nooooo!” I did the happy dance right there in the parking lot.

Yesterday my grandson told me “No”. Maybe some day I won’t like that so much, but for now it’s a happy little song that I loved to hear.

Road Trip

February 18, 2010

Traveling North last weekend was a great and wonderful adventure for us. We’ve been on many trips together, some with John’s children when they were younger, but for the most part it’s just been the two of us. We’ve developed a sort of a rhythm to traveling together. Up early, out on the road, usually without much of a plan. We stop when we find something interesting, eat when we are hungry, and are in bed pre-midnight, adjusting as needed. Footloose and fancy free. This was our first trip in many years with a toddler.

We made reservations a month ago at Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City, Michigan, for four. And a half. We conceded to bringing Asher’s parents along for the ride. Just kidding. There’s no way I would have even attempted this without his parents. It would have been like traveling to a foreign land. Without a translator.

Thanks to a good friend, who has a son, who works for a car rental agency, we got a tremendous deal on a vehicle that would hold luggage, a pack and play, a stroller, food, four adults, and a car seat. And several bottles of wine on the return trip. John was in road warrior heaven. He began his period of mourning the minute we returned the auto Monday night.

It had eight cylinders, four wheel drive, and all kinds of bells and whistles that I was not the least bit interested in. It made a big roar when he stepped on the gas. He did, too. Even Asher couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel. It’s a man thing.

The indoor water park was outstanding. So outstanding that I didn’t stop to take any pictures. Fail, as Sarah would say. By time I realized I didn’t have any, it was five minutes to closing on the last night. But the pictures I have in my mind will last a lifetime. His trunks were bright blue and orange, and he wore a navy latex short-sleeved shirt. The lodge provided a bright yellow life jacket with an inflated collar, and a handy little black loop on the back that was just perfect for tethering a toddler. His smile was contagious, yummy, and forever. He never stopped, from the first time his little feet hit the water soaked floor, until we lifted him up for the last time to head back to the room. Each of us took turns following him from the toddler pool, to the fort – complete with all kinds of water filled fun, to the adult pool, back to the fort, then to the toddler pool, then to the fort…get the idea?

He spent most of his time in the room trying to get out the door to get back to the park. No kidding. We had to use the bolt, and when he figured that out, we used the latch, which allowed enough of an opening to make the longing even worse. Not to mention pinched fingers. We were pretty lucky to come away unscathed.

I would like to say that after considerable prodding, on the last evening I did go down one of the water slides in a double inner tube with John. Twice. Sarah said she could hear us screaming all the way down. Both times. I loved it. Naturally, he hit the slides as soon as we got there. That’s one of the things I love about him.

As for traveling with a toddler, I would do it again in a heartbeat. It took some adjustment, on his part as well as ours, but he was a trooper. As for John and I, a wise old soul named Jane once told me when I struggled with my first child, “The best parent is one that has been there before.” After all these years, it’s perfectly clear. We understand all of the bumps and grinds that are a toddler. We’ve been there before, and love going there again.

firing on all cylinders:

February 8, 2010

having all its cylinders working and thus providing the maximum amount of power. The old car is firing on all cylinders despite its age. This thing’s not hitting on all cylinders –  The Free Dictionary.

One of the things I enjoyed most about last week was watching how my grandson connects thoughts. That’s the neat thing about grand-parenting. Living a distance away that allows for snapshots of development, I am constantly intrigued by things I took for granted with my own children.

His mother told me to have the waffles ready when he got up in the morning or he would cry crocodile tears. I had the waffles ready, but I forgot about the cup of milk. He instantly opened the drawer where the plastic cups are stored and offered one up to me for filling. He scooted into the living room when he was finished eating and when I called him back to get his hands washed, he responded by walking back to me,  then shifting the cup from one to the other while I wiped them off. When the television screen went blank, he looked at me and then the screen with hand extended.

At not quite 18 months, the thought process is all there even though it is not displayed verbally. At least not in any form that I can understand. Yet we communicated wonderfully. I loved watching how he thinks through things and adjusts appropriately. Friday afternoon I sliced an apple and asked him if he would like a piece. He had the cup in one hand and a car in the other. He handed the cup to me, put the apple in his mouth, took the cup back, and headed into the living room to watch television. This car is firing on all cylinders despite its age.

This thing’s not hitting on all cylinders. Sorry. I couldn’t resist.

Baskets and Buckets

June 18, 2009

Buckets and baskets. Words that have become a part of my “self-talk”. I don’t necessarily say them out loud, but I say them just the same. The frequency depends on the kind of day it is. I have shared their meaning, which on occasion has been a good thing.

My husband taught me about baskets during his days as an elementary principal. Originally it was presented as a parenting tool. The theory is that when working on behaviors with your child, you should imagine three baskets. Basket A is the “Safety Basket”, for behaviors that are a matter of life or death. Items in this basket demand immediate attention; hopefully there are few. Basket B is the “Compromise Basket”, for what you would consider to be high priority items that can be approached with communication and compromise. Basket C is for “Reduction of Frustration”. It should be full of items that can be ignored or sidestepped. Running into the street is definitely Basket A. Picking up dirty clothes could be Basket B, but may move quickly to Basket C when the homework doesn’t get done.

The baskets are a great reminder for me of what is worth my worry, and when I need to move on. Basket C is my favorite. I have used the baskets at work, and it is not unusual for someone to preface a statement by letting me know what basket they feel it falls into. Often I find myself chucking things into Basket C when I feel the frustration building. The baskets make me stop and think about when I can effect a change, and when I should call it a day.

Buckets are a reference to the book How Full is Your Bucket? It is a quick read, but well worth the time. The idea is simple. Everyone has an imaginary bucket that is full when they are happy and empty when they are sad. Other people can fill or empty your bucket by their interactions with you. In return, you are responsible for doing the same for them. Of equal importance is the idea of not letting people draw from your bucket. That’s the point where the buckets and baskets work in tandem. If you’re trying to draw from my Bucket, I’m going to put you in Basket C. Slam dunk.

What prompted this post? My husband came home with a new book today, and you know how I love children’s books. This one is How Full is Your Bucket? for Kids. Right up my alley. This one’s going in the book basket for Asher, my first and bestest bucket filler. If you don’t have time for the full blown adult version of the bucket book – this one will work just fine. I’d put it in Basket A.

bucket book

It’s time…

June 13, 2009

…to move the laptop off the arm of the couch!

standing

Ah, so good…

April 27, 2009

Here is my new favorite picture.

mommy-and-asher-reading

I don’t really have a whole lot to say here, except that it is such a rush for me to see how my daughter “mothers” my grandson. He is happy and healthy and she does all in her power to make sure he stays that way. It just doesn’t get any better than this. At least not in this Grandma’s eyes. And heart.