This week it’s time for a break from prepping our house for sale to experience the joy of caring for our grand-daughter who is almost 3 years old.
It’s March break in Ontario which means that schools, including the Montessori school she attends, are closed.
Our son and daughter-in-law have new jobs where time off for March break is not an option. It’s time for grandparents to step up and help by doing child care. Since they live more than two hours away from us, child care means a full week of sleepovers at our house as well as days chock-a block with all kinds of activities.
Caring for a busy, active, inquisitive toddler is more than a full-time job! The quiet times that I depend on for reading, writing, and a bit of solitude are interrupted by constant chatter and endless questions. What’s that? How does this work? Can I try it? What are you doing? Where’s grandpa going? Can I help?
There are also demands, usually masked with a smile and ‘please’ as the magic word. Please, may I watch Peppa Pig on Netflicks? Please, I want to try on your high black boots? Please I don’t like this meat! Please, I don’t want to go with you to the grocery store. Please, add more bubble bath. Please, I like two stories before bedtime.
While there is little time for anything but child care, this week is providing a refreshing look at the world of a young child.
I admit to getting charmed by an innocent smile with a request for cookies or a doughnut with sprinkles on top. When she tops off the treat with a hard-boiled egg and half an avocado I know she still gets essential vitamins. I’m easily conned with requests to watch kids shows all the while feeling guilty as TV is infrequently allowed at her parents home.
I’ve forgotten how much fun it is when a blanket over a coffee table becomes a fort. I’ve forgotten how interesting a cat’s tail can be when held in tiny hand. I’ve forgotten how hands get sticky when balancing a toasted bagel spread with honey and peanut butter. And, how hand washing becomes a sing-a-long that requires copious amounts of liquid soap to finish the job!
There is also the pure delight of movement. Reaching any destination is a race. In the quest for mastery, climbing, swinging, balancing and sliding are practised over and over on play equipment at the park. Indoors, movement needs are satisfied with dancing the galop, with lunges and swinging arms or with using our king size bed as a trampoline.
Music takes on new meaning when renditions of popular songs and nursery tunes alike are guilelessly performed or sung while intensely absorbed with play. Endless requests for my singing have me bursting forth with long-forgotten nursery tunes, lullabies and silly camp songs.
There is delight in imaginative play. I’ve spent hours pretending to go shopping at the mall. I’ve made imaginary purchases at the ‘coffee store’ (aka Tim Hortons in Canada), selected various flavours of ice-cream, and played dress-up using hats, high-heeled shoes, and garish jewelry.
Her imagination extends to creative use of objects. It’s interesting to see an empty water bottle become a microphone. I marvel at overheard conversations with toys and listen to self-talk as she recounts events and their outcomes.
Books that belonged to her father when he was a toddler have provided hours of entertainment. Favourites like Winnie the Poo, Curious George and Sesame Street are timeless. Many have been heard so many times that she can take the books and ‘read’ the stories to her dolls! I’m surprised by the speed at which new words are incorporated into her lexicon through mimicry, repetition and experimentation.
All readers who are grand parents will surely identify with these experiences. One of the many gifts grand children give is the opportunity to re-experience the world through their eyes. As adults we forget to laugh at the small, yet funny things that happen every day. We forget the joy of movement just for fun as we struggle with ‘exercise’ programs to keep fit. Imaginative ideas are often dismissed as silly ideas and not possibilities.
After a hectic two months of purging clutter from our house, spending a few days seeing the wonder of life in our grand daughter’s eyes has been as therapeutic as a vacation. We’ve enjoyed, again, the long-forgotten fun of free play. We’ve struggled to reinforce rules that we know parents consider important to provide consistency and boundaries. Most of all, we taken time simply to love her and to appreciate this small person who has wormed her way into our hearts.