Forgot

It has been a long time since I have had a four year old in the house. I had forgotten what four was like.

I had forgotten how much four year olds love to count. They count everything – bites of cereal, flowers in the garden, blocks, books, bubbles, steps. Everything.

I had forgotten the :”Watch me!” phase. Everything they do is big and exciting and needs to be watched. “Look at me jump!” “Look at me run!” “Watch me climb!” It cant  be a bit frustrating when I am trying to get a job done and constantly have to stop to watch. All too soon, these things will become mundane and not note-worthy, so I have patience and celebrate her little accomplishments with her.

I had also forgotten the intense desire to do grown up things and to be a “big girl”. The parental inclination tends to be to say “you are too little” or “it is too dangerous.” But I try to squelch those comments and let her try. With supervision. And I have found that given the chance, she often can do things that I thought would be too hard for her. And if things are too hard, she realizes it without me stepping in and asks for help. I think it is important for her to explore her limits and to understand that if she needs help, it is okay to ask.

I had also forgotten how amazing the world is through a four year old’s eyes and how many questions they have as they explore. Sights, sounds, colours, tastes are all worth close examination. We literally slow down and smell the roses. And touch the snail. And taste the clover. And watch the clouds. It is an awakening for her and a reawakening for me.

This is a fun stage. I’m glad I get to step along this path one more time.

Tonsils

The first thing many people say when I tell them my grandchild had a tonsillectomy is “I didn’t think they did that anymore.”

It is not the common procedure it was 50 years ago, that’s for sure. But when there are constant infections and swelling that interfere with sleep and activities, an ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) specialist may decide they have to go.

It is not a Mickey Mouse surgery. The child will have a very sore throat for ten days to two weeks. Soft foods during that time is a must. And if there is bleeding, fever or the child won’t drink because of the pain, it is back to the hospital BDQ.

We unfortunately experienced the affects of infection and consequentially, the inability to drink due to pain and so we spent an extra couple of days in the hospital. The staff was wonderful, but it wasn’t fun, that’s for sure. The insertion of the IV was a very unpleasant time for all of us.

However, we are home, the throat is healing, and things are looking up.

Conversation

Preschoolers have such a thirst for information. They want to understand the world and yet their imaginations allow them to soar beyond what is possible. It is an interesting age.

At lunch today, my granddaughter and I had a conversation that explored death and where the soul or spirit of the departed person or pet would be. And why we can’t see the spirit, but maybe we can feel it.

Then the topic turned to eggs (since that was part of the meal) and we talked about why some eggs are for eating and other eggs are for hatching chicks.

And then we talked about when a person might be ready to have a baby.

Pretty heavy topics, don’t you think?  They were all initiated by the child; they were important for her to discuss. I did my best to be clear, to be age-appropriate and to be open minded and open hearted.

She seemed satisfied so I guess I did okay.

Grand Love

The grandparents’ group has grown. And after 7 of the 8 sessions, we have become a group that is comfortable and happy to share our challenges, laughter and tears.

Guest speakers have given us information on everything from community services that are available to technology.

We are thinking about continuing our meetings, perhaps less  often than once a week, but often enough to be a support base for one another.

Anyone who is raising their grandchild(ren), this is a good opportunity.  If there isn’t a group near you, encourage community services or a church to start one. You won’t be sorry.

Grand Love

The grandparent support group is helpful. Guest speakers talk to us each week and there is time to chat about whatever is on our minds.

The chats always revolve around our challenges. Despite the ages of the children we are caring for, there are common threads. We all have sad tales of families that are not functioning, for a variety of reasons. Not surprising – if the families were not in crisis, the children would be with their parents. We all are feeling overwhelmed, taking on child care duties in our golden years. Fatigue is a huge factor in our lives these days. We feel isolated from our friends. Going out for coffee or an evening of drinks, dinner and theatre are logistically daunting. We are struggling to find babysitters. For most of us, the financial strain of feeding, clothing and caring for a child is a worry.

The good news is that there is a sense of community among us and sharing our common concerns makes the load a bit easier to carry. We have found others in the same shaky boat we are in. We can talk to others who really understand what we are going through.

I am glad I joined the group. If I get nothing more from it than a chance to talk and listen, I will be content.

 

Group Therapy

I plan to join a grandparent help group next week.

Generally the idea of sitting in a circle with a bunch of strangers, talking about our feelings, does not really appeal to me.

But I am over my head, in the deep end of the pool, struggling to tread water.  And having a chance to connect with other people who are feeling the same way seems oddly comforting. I guess misery does like company.

I am hoping to find sympathetic ears in this group and maybe some helpful ideas. It gets lonely being in a different demographic than my peers. I have been thrust into a place where I need to interact with young parents (think about birthday parties, play groups, daycare events)and I feel quite out of the loop. Young moms and dads tend to look at me as a bit of an interloper, an unwanted chaperone. At least,  that’s how it seems. Conversations are stilted and brief. Invitations to join them on a park bench as the kids play just don’t happen. I am not part of the cliche.

And my peers find my circumstance a bit daunting. Planning a coffee date or an evening out is not simple for me. I have to plan well in advance, get a sitter, and be home early. Spontaneous shopping trips and glasses of wine aren’t possible for me right now. So I don’t get invited out very often to chat with people my own age.

So I feel a bit like an outcast, and I fear that my grandchild may suffer for that. Will she also be shunned because of our uncommon family situation?

And so, I am hopeful that I will meet other grandparents that experience similar feelings. And maybe we can make our own little community.

Kids Say

Youngsters see the world with fresh eyes and explore language in unique ways to describe what they experience. This post shares some absolutely wonderful preschooler comments and observations.

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Three year old, while painting: What do you get when you mix blue and orange?

Adult: I’m not sure.

Three year old, mixing blue and orange paint and smearing it onto paper: It makes a kind of brown. It looks like diarrhea!

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Preschooler: I know what “foot” starts with. (making the sound of the letter) F-f-f-f . It’s the letter F.

Adult: Cool. And what does it end with?

Preschooler: (Sounding it out) T-t-t-t. Toes!!!

Of course a foot ends with toes!

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Four year old: I want brown rice for supper. But not really dark brown. Not dark like this. (She closed her eyes to show how dark she meant.)

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Granddaughter: I am very fast. I can go one million one thousand.

Grandmother: Wow. That’s fast.

Granddaughter: That’s as old as you are!

 

 

Feeling Sorry

Sometimes I catch myself feeling  self-pity for my situation. It isn’t pretty and it fortunately doesn’t happen too often. But when I get tired it sometimes sneaks up on me. Thoughts of what I had once believed retirement would be – time on my hands, freedom to pursue new pass-times and the luxury to travel – fill my head.

Eventually,  I give my head a shake. “Really?” I ask myself. “You have the privilege of watching your grandchild grow and develop into an amazing person, and this is the fuel for a pity-party?”

Then I think about the women who are in a cruel battle with cancer. About women who have lost their mates or who are nursing them through  a debilitating illness. About women who are trying to rebuild a life after their spouse has decided they are done with the relationship after 25 or thirty years together. About women who have lost a child.

And I thank all the forces of goodness in the universe for making me so very lucky. Oh yeah, I have it  good.

Blessings

I am blessed.

I am blessed to see my grandchild’s smile every day.

I am blessed to give her hugs and to receive her hugs and kisses.

I am blessed to be able to watch as she explores her world and absorbs ideas and knowledge.

I am blessed to hold her tightly when she gets hurt or scared and make her feel safe and loved.

I am blessed to share moments of play and of work with her.

I am blessed to read stories to her.

I am blessed to hear her ideas, theories and observations about the world; she has amazing insights that refresh my thoughts and views.

I am blessed to see her grow and be healthy.

I am blessed to tuck her safely into bed every night.

I am so very blessed.

You’ve Got a Friend

What a wonderful difference a bit of friendship makes when a person is down. After dealing with illness in  our  family for several weeks, I was tired, down-hearted and tired. (Did I mention that I was quite tired???)

A friend who I had seen little of recently,  due to family commitments on both our sides, called me out of the blue and asked to come visit for a couple of days. I warned her about the colds and chaos in our home but she was willing to come anyway.

What a lift it was to see her again. We talked and talked. We reconnected. She brought groceries and helped prepare meals. She did some cleaning and babysitting.

It was an amazing gift to me.  I desperately needed the help but even more-so, I needed the TLC.

I remember an acquaintance telling me about when her children were small. She had five little ones and was struggling to keep up with meals, chores and refereeing. She said she was so grateful when a friend would come to visit and grab the laundry basket as they chatted and fold clothes. The camaraderie was great…the hands-on help doubly great.

Sure, I’m still dealing with the cold and fatigue, but this special friend has given me a much-needed dose of love and laughter. I can’t thank her enough.