I am Skeptical

Now that I am a grandma, I have spent a lot of time skipping down memory lane. Today, I want to discuss potty training, which was a reward which every parent impatiently anticipated and celebrated its success.

I opened my baby book and discovered that I began my adventures in potty training at the age of—wait for it, wait for it—7 ½ months!! I kid you not. According to my mom’s entries in my book, I apparently had some success well before my first birthday. I find that hard to believe.

What does this really mean? Apparently this coincided with the moment when I was able to sit alone unaided, so I guess Grandma just plopped me on the potty. Did she follow a signal, or did she just strap me aboard and forced me to remain there until success was achieved?

If you are repulsed when changing a number-two-filled disposable diaper, I must tell you that it is a piece of cake compared to changing a similarly filled cloth diaper, so I understand rushing the process. However, I am extremely skeptical of the success of placing a child on the throne at such a very young age.

I need to have a chat with Grandma about this.



He Wants What?

The countdown begins. Stores are already decking their halls, and children are making their lists for the jolly old elf. Therefore, it should not have been surprising that Bryce would want to discuss his most-wanted gift with Dad and me already.

“Grandma, do you know what a robot vacuum is?” he asked me this week. I immediately thought of the round vacuum that my own parents had, but he could not possibly be speaking of that, could he? He went on to describe this very cool floor-cleaning device, which could clean both the carpeted floors and wood floors as well.

When I mentioned it to his mom, she informed me that he was indeed interested in this household helper. He wanted to show it to her, so he went to YouTube and tried to find it himself—typing in R-B-T. Mommy explained that he needed to add a few “O’s”, and once he had typed in R-O-B-O-T followed by “V,” up popped an array of videos.

“It costs a lot of money,” she pointed out to him.

“It won’t cost us anything because Santa will bring it. It will be fun too, because we can chase it all over the house.”

Well then, how do you respond to this? I am willing to bet that Santa will not receive this request from a single other child.


Outwit, Outplay, Outlast

Outwit, outplay, outlast. This is not just the slogan of television show “Survivor,” but also representative of life with a 2 ¾ year old. The most recent challenge revolves around how to keep her in her room at night. The method had been to temporarily secure her there after teeth/story/prayer time were over with what is known as a monkey lock, and then remove it after she was asleep.

While this device had been quite successful in keeping her and big brother from Mom’s office and her room until recently, her genius mind has now consistently been able to outsmart the lock.

The first escape occurred the night that she decided to place a diaper box inside her hamper so she could climb high enough to release the lock. She then ran victoriously downstairs with her pants off and a smile of accomplishment on her face. Mom and Dad removed the hamper and every box from her room, but that did not stop her. No siree!

The little thinker next removed every book from her bookcase and then piled them up until they were high enough to reach the monkey lock. It also created a wall which made it difficult for her or her parents to open the door.

So she needed to come up with a third plan. She hooked the top piece from her Minnie Mouse car onto the door knob, and then pulled it back and forth until the force of this action slid the monkey lock low enough for her to reach the lock and open the door. Another success!

Holy cow! The score is now Child 3 and Mom and Dad 0. How do you outsmart this child?

Thoughts After an Unexpected Visit

An unexpected invasion of my house by four houseguests gave me pause to consider the consequences of mixing the generations together, what can happen when children are separated from their parents, and why giving birth to a child after the age of fifty is not necessarily a good idea—at least not for me.

“Too many cooks spoil the broth” is a good motto and is particularly true when having all four grandparents cohabitating with their grandchildren. I know that parents do not always agree with how to discipline their own children, so adding two additional parents to the mix—now “grands”—can be confusing to the children and awkward for the adults, particularly when trying to maintain civility. The good news was that there were no major explosions.

Children are exhausting, which is why parenting is generally meant for the young. Having our little visitors hear for seven days was fun, and they made us laugh—until the sun sets and something happened to their angelic personalities. That was particularly true of the two-year-old, who thinks I can be conned into thinking I will believe her when she says she will stay in her room.

A sixty-nine-year-old Italian woman became the oldest woman to give birth without any fertility intervention just two years ago. In 1887, a sixty-two-year-old woman gave birth to triplets, and a seventy-year-old Indian woman had a baby with her seventy-year-old husband via IVF treatments. That’s nuts! I wonder what bedtime is like at that house!

I know my grandchildren love their parents much more than they do me, which is how it should be. Even Mary Poppins recognized that fact. But when they adapt to their new surroundings and become too comfortable, then reunion time may be cause for tears rather than happy smiles.

Learning that news did not bring me comfort, and it made me wonder about all the children who have been separated from their parents at our southern borders. I hope that most of the reconciliations were joyous, but I am guessing that some of those children cried when greeted by their parents.  How heartbreaking for those moms and dads! Was it really necessary?

A Maverick Woman

A recent situation arose in our family, which immediately returned me to our New Jersey home some twenty-plus years ago. It was the time that Jamie misbehaved  and Dad retaliated by removing her toys from her room. She continued her unacceptable behavior and did not stop until Dad removed her desk chair. (“Not my chair,” she said followed by “I’ll be good. I’ll be good!”) See You’re in Trouble with a Capital “T.”

Now the culprit was the 2 ½ year old of the family, who was practicing the skills she had just learned in her new gymnastics class by repeatedly climbing over the gate at her bedroom door. Not one to always listen to commands, particularly when she believes her actions are somehow wildly hysterical and worth any possible punishment, she ignored the orders to stop. That is when her mommy decided to resurrect the not-my-chair punishment.

Being her own woman—a maverick—this did not work. I believe one of her parents had to snuggle with her until she drifted off to sleep.

That is not the end of the story. On her first day of school after this incident, she returned home with her own report of her morning in pre-school. She mentioned the snack of the day (cheesy crackers she told me) and the fact that she had gotten into trouble. Apparently, she was comfortable with her surroundings, and as she does when in any place where she feels at home, our little cutie removed her shoes. The rest of the class responded in kind by removing their shoes. The teachers were not pleased.

She is a leader—a strong woman. I look forward to what she becomes.



The Future’s Not Ours to See

We have a budding horticulturist in the family. (Pun was definitely intended!) At just 2 ½ years old, Lily has surprised us with her interest in flowers, trees, bushes, and herbs. During each visit to my house, she insists on going outside to check out all that is growing. She points to each flower, tree, and bush and asks, “What is that called?” Sometimes, I do not know, so I am brushing up on the names of each plant in my yard.

She is beginning to recognize some, already identifying my crepe myrtles, roses, lilies (that’s a given), basil, and lantanas. Sometimes she cannot recall the name, but if I walk to a specific area and ask her to point out the lantana or the Mexican petunias, she has no difficulty answering correctly. We pick a few flowers and then carefully place them in a vase so she can admire the plants while inside my cool, air-conditioned house.

I believe her plant fascination began after I showed her my pumpkin garden, so our pumpkin patch is always the first stop on our walk around the yard.

Sadly, I am concerned about the possibility of even a single pumpkin surviving because they are apparently tasty snacks for our local deer, rabbits, and squirrels.

“Oh, no, Grandma!” she cries each time as she sees another flower bitten off the plants since her last visit.

On a recent visit downtown, she pointed out all the crepe myrtles she saw as she gazed out of the car window, and on a trip to an uncle’s home in Asheville, she was equally inquisical about the names of his plants.

What will her future bring? Que Sera Sera.



Thanksgiving in July

Last weekend was a joyful gathering of our family. Everyone from the photo taken in the Virginia “cabinet” (Bryce’s name for that house, not mine) last July was present except for my soon-to-be third son. Dad’s sister acted as his placeholder.

Each of our out-of-town guests descended on the house at various times on Saturday, and since Casey had to leave early on Monday, we had just one day when we were all together. It is a rare occasion when this happens, which is why I called it a joyful gathering. I am easily pleased.

We had no plans for the day beyond just hanging out and enjoying each other’s company. Jamie needed a beach cover-up and Dad and I wanted a French-press coffee maker, so the womenfolk headed out to the store. As an avowed shopping hater, I admit that I thoroughly enjoyed running around TJ Maxx with my three girls and sister-in-law. I had the best time!

Returning home, we played board games with the grandkids, colored, created pizzas with purple and green Play Doh, rebuilt the fort, and then all played an alternative form of hide-and-seek—“Sardines.” One person hides while the others close their eyes and count in unison. After reaching 30, the group disperses, and when someone locates the hidden person, then the “finder” must join that individual.

The hiding spot must be large enough to accommodate a crowd, and I must say that it is difficult to all squeeze together while at the same time, remain quiet. This game just invites giggling. The last person to find the group becomes the next hider. Try it, you’ll like it!

We ended the weekend gathered around the dining room table for a raucous dinner. I admit I cooked too much, and someone commented that it seemed like Thanksgiving in July, particularly since we had many of our traditional Turkey Day sides—sweet potatoes, green beans, applesauce, and a nice pork roast.

So when America is celebrating Thanksgiving Day in November, I will be able to look back and remember when my family celebrated Thanksgiving 2018 one hot summer day in July. Did anyone take a photo?