Life in Nashville,for me,is amazingly good.
Last week I had the opportunity to stay with five of my grandchildren at my daughter's house. The parents left Tuesday morning at 6 and returned at 10:30 Friday night.
Lisa's good friend Tracey transported the four older children to and from school each day, which was a tremendous help to me. On the second day, when my grandgirls each forgot something, Tracey came back to fetch the items and delivered them to the school.
Little George, 2, had not started his part-time 'school' yet, so he was my steady companion. Having raised four children of my own, I soon felt nostalgic and comfortable caring for a toddler who was as exemplary as all of mine had been at his age.
Each morning we rode to my house to feed the cat and to spend the requisite half-hour or so looking at images of animals and balls on the upstairs computer. Then we visited Kroger to pick up a few items but, more importantly, to allow my grandson to ride the musical horse at the store's entrance.
After lunch back at his house, George went down for a 2-1/2 hour nap near noon after I read two short books, Where the Wild Things Are being our favorite. With the baby monitor visible and audible, I was able to take a luxurious bath and write in my journal.
When he got up, George liked to play a while alone with the stash of toys kept in the corner of the den. Then we went outside and kicked a soccer ball back and forth on the driveway while waiting for his siblings to arrive home shortly after 3.
For the hours until dinner, his siblings almost totally occupied their little brother and I could hear his squeals of delight as well as his forceful directing of the others’ play (!) but I only intervened when a diaper required attention.
For example, big brother J.D. walked down the stairs, looked me in the eye, and said softly, “George has a stinky." When did this 9-year-old grandson develop such manners? I wondered. It would have been so logical for him to yell this info down the stairs. And only after I had finished the child care assignment did I stop to appreciate that the older children had gone the week without a squabble--surely unusual for a family this size.
I lucked out on Wednesday when two soccer practices on opposite ends of town were canceled due to rain, and I didn't have to be three places at once—a trick my daughter has mastered but at which I remain a novice.
The first two nights George slept through the night but, thankfully, the third night he woke up at 3 a.m. I went upstairs and put a dry diaper on him and asked if he wanted to cuddle in bed with me. He said yes. For the next two hours, I held him close under the covers of Lisa and Alex’s bed, in a restful state sweeter than sleep.
On Friday we attended an introductory open house at George's preschool. While a few of his fellow students clung to parents or cried at the unfamiliar classroom, my grandson, with a wary eye but without hesitation, approached the new toys and tried them one by one, waiting his turn when necessary.
That afternoon I managed to please everyone's sweet tooth when I made 24 red velvet cupcakes and topped each set of 8 with vanilla, chocolate, and cream cheese frosting. As I was congratulating myself on this coup, Molly the Golden Doodle leaped up and secured George’s half-eaten chocolate cupcake off the kitchen counter and devoured it, paper muffin cup and all. I called her vet and was relieved to hear that, given Molly's good size, she would probably be all right. (She was.)
After I got home late Friday night, I didn't see these precious children until Sunday morning. As I approached their house after Mass, I cautioned myself not to get my feelings hurt if George cried upon seeing me. After all, he might think I was coming to babysit again and that his parents were going away.
He was playing in the driveway under his mom’s watchful eye when I drove up. He saw me get out of the car and ran toward me. I scooped him up and said, “Oh, George, I have missed you so much!” He threw his little arms around my neck and held me tight for a long, long time--the ultimate thank-you to a Gaga who had already been thanked profusely.