Monday, November 12, 2018


Since election day (last Tuesday), I have basically shut out the world that exists beyond my grandkids. A confluence of factors and forces set my days spinning, pretty much round the clock, around the well being of my awesome threesome. The intensity of the days left me whirling like a pinwheel in gale strength winds, but as you know, intensities make you stronger and they give you an appreciation, though with a touch of sadness, for the moment when things slow down and you return to your normal patterns once more. I'd say tonight, I'm back to normal. Ed and I are on the couch eating popcorn and watching season six of VEEP.

Earlier, so much earlier, Sparrow arrived for his Monday at the farmhouse. Ed was a saint to come down for breakfast with the two of us. Well, Sparrow only pretended to eat. (I must say, I felt a tad guilty as his curious eyes followed every spoonful of oatmeal from bowl to my mouth.)

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Sparrow is at an age where you also look for the beginnings of independent play. Being at his side, flashing toys, books, singing songs, squeezing stuffies -- all that's well and good, but your intuition tells you that equally important are those moments when you are not responsible for the child's amusement: when he finds them for himself.

And so I bring up the bounce-a-roo. For Snowdrop this not too attractive to the adult eye spring-loaded contraption was an introduction into a world of being upright and in control of her own play. She could bounce in it for a good long while. As she came closer to being a one year old, she learned to walk and move around freely by herself. But in the bounce-a-roo, she was safe and she'd use the strength of her little chubby legs to jump up a storm.

Sparrow is old enough now to begin exploring that same independence.

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Perhaps the biggest challenge for him and therefore for his caregiver is the nap. His schedule necessarily has to be erratic and he has never quite mastered the daytime sleep routine. Sometimes he is easy to put down. Today he is not. He wins one round, I win the next, and so it continues until finally I release him from this purgatory and he sits back in his bouncy seat with a very victorious look on his face.

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He is a cheerful little guy, but there is a downside: Without a nap, he alternates between being happy and being tired. Let's focus on the happy!

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In the afternoon, we pick up Snowdrop. Her little brother can be a real status symbol for her in school. Friends love to come up and share in his wonderfulness. Sparrow laps it all up. He doesn't mind for once being the center of attention.

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(Snowdrop has a new scarf. The colors leap out at you on this cold and gray day.)

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Once inside, Snowdrop is a whirlwind of ideas and play proposals.

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Ed looks up and says -- you seem to have a lot of energy...
I got energy up to my brain! -- she retorts.
How do you get it up to your brain?
Blood carries it there!

He puts down his computer. This needs further discussion. Snowdrop, do you know that the foods you eat give you your energy?
Yes! I ate some oreos for lunch. And now I am full of energy.
(We both stifle a chuckle.)

Book writing: it's part of her everyday now.

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(Assessing her work...)

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(Yes, it's ready!)

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Evening now. Kids are gone, Ed and I are are in  our quiet bubble  (just before watching VeeP). I listen to a short video that somehow made its way to the front page of the NYTimes. It's narrated by a woman who immigrated here from the Soviet Union as a child. Wanting to fit in, she lived her childhood to please others (it didn't work). Eventually she had kids -- daughters actually -- and she tells how determined she is to have them be more than just girls who live to please others. Strong girls, who believe in the power of their own voice.

I am charmed by her story, but  also a tad amused by the simplicity of the formula. Here's a mom who is putting a lot of pressure on herself to turn each girl into someone who does not have to please others in life to feel happy and successful. The beauty (or the sadness, depending on your personality) of being a grandparent is that you know, you truly know that trying too hard to get your daughter to be this way or that way is not necessarily a good thing, for you, or for your child. So what are you left with? Perhaps one approach would be to maintain a happy family life as best you can, remain open to the world beyond your own backyard, and hope for a hell of a lot of luck going forward.

And still, when I watch Snowdrop prance around the farmhouse, I am again filled with that hope that what we do here with her, with all our grandkids, will help them be strong as they grow up. And maybe we can and maybe we can't, but still, watching their young and very innocent faces, you sure hope we can.

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