I love playing with kids. I’m the kind of grandmother who gets right down in the mud. Some times at parties, other adults will shoot me a look while I break dance with a seven year old boy or play a clap game with little girl. I don’t prefer kids to adults, but sometimes, especially at parties, I don’t like the games adults play. The idle gossip, the bragging, the heated political conversations when I know the other person hasn’t even voted in several years, the surface stuff that can now be transmitted by Twitter. With kids it’s basic and it’s authentic.
My daughter is finally working [ another story] in a job that she loves and is very good at. She asked me to watch her three year old on Sunday while she worked. I’ve said no for many reasons, but the one that mostly stops me is that my granddaughter has anxiety when separated from her mother. The quivering lip, tears rolling down her face, the endless “Where is Mommy?” and the experience of my being unable to console her, to the point that she vomits, was good for none of us.
This time I said, yes. Yes I will watch her for the day. Half way to Grammie’s House from the bus stop, she stopped and both our lips quivered. It was such a beautiful day. Suddenly an epiphany. I’d forgotten how to raise kids. My job was not to convince her nor to console her, as consolation is a choice to let somebody comfort you. Maybe she wasn’t ready for me to console her, maybe my job was to distract her.
With renewed enthusiasm, I pulled all the arrows from my parenting quiver and this is what we did.
Walked the Dogs
Let Her Take Pictures of Me
So I Could Get a Picture of Her
Made and Hugged François, the Snowman
Made a Tent Under the Dining Table
Played with a Flashlight
We also went to the park to swing. We played a memory game. She played in the bath. We made scrambled eggs and while she crushed the shells with relish, she refused to eat anything I made until late in the afternoon.
It was not the first and last quiver, tear or question about Mommy, but we finally had an entire day where she did not get hysterical. During the last walk with the dogs, dusk approaching, we walked in silence, only the crunch of snow under our boots. I looked down to see her eyes looking shyly up at me with the smallest of smiles curving her rosy cheeks. You know the kind of face a child offers up unconditionally and open and your heart lurches with love and gratefulness.