Grandmothering requires a sense of adventure ... and junk food

My granddaughters are coming tomorrow for an overnight visit. I can hardly wait. They texted me from their other grandma’s this afternoon. They’ve been at her house on the lake for a few days, and I’m not sure whether they asked to come, or she suggested it. I figure she might need a break. 

Neither of us gets to see them very often. They live in the city and have gotten very busy over the last few years, and fitting us in is a problem. There are weekly swimming lessons, overnights with friends, karate lessons for both of them and the occasional birthday parties and general kid events. So, both their Lake Grandparents and their Small Town Nanny count ourselves lucky when we get a chance to visit with them. 

Times have changed over the last eleven years. One of the first times I had the first grandchild overnight, it was a learning experience. Thirty years had elapsed since I’d been responsible for a child in perpetual motion. When my oldest was a baby, I was young, energetic and smarter. We lived in a small house, and there were two of us. 

For the grandchild’s first solo visit, I resorted to extreme measures. I knew if I let her get away on my watch, her mother would kill me. I remember my daughter saying, “Mother, you have to watch her all the time.” 

So, I constructed a fort in the living room, using the couch, overturned chairs, and the piano bench. I put all her toys in the middle and got down with her to play. No sooner had I lowered myself into the middle, she showed me how to crawl through the legs of the chairs, over the piano bench and under the couch. Impossible? No, not for an 18 month-old.

She sat in the high chair I’d used as a baby and ate Cheerios. Easy, you say. It was. No picky eating, no whining, no rolling of the eyes. I slept for three days after she left.

When Number Two grandchild came along. I was an old hand. Actually, Number One was the old hand, and she chased the baby, brought me diapers, and generally provided a wealth of information about raising Number Two. Number One slept with me, and Number Two slept in the port-a-crib. I slept like a baby, and they got up with the sun. We all did. 

Those were the days of finger painting, swimming in the blow-up pool and eating Cheetos and popsicles … outside. Sleeping was a little different. They were not as thrilled by the new twin beds in the guest room, and I ended up sleeping with two whirly-gigs, spinning the night away. About two o’clock that morning, I packed pillows around them and headed for the twin bed where my feet hung off and my head bumped the wall. 

Now they are older. They prefer the privacy of the guest room where they can play on their phones, master games on their laptops, and shut out the natural world with a good set of earbuds. They are a little less excited about Cheetos and popsicles, but they do appreciate a frozen pizza and chicken strips. I can remember my grandmother frying okra and peeling potatoes. Not a chance with these girls, they can eat their vegetables somewhere else. This is Nanny’s house. Ketchup is a vegetable, isn’t it? Not sure about ranch dressing.

It’s hard to believe they are the same children. They’ve grown into beautiful girls. I hope they don’t get too busy to spend time with me as the years roll on. I’m pretty sure that school, friends, and boys will take most of their time in the next few years, but they always know I’ll be here … with junk food, free Wi-Fi, and a snuggle. 

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