Like a lot of other baby boomers, Steve and I now provide childcare for our kid’s kid. In our case, that’s one day a week with our almost-11-month-old grandson. We have fittingly christened the weekly ritual, “Fridays with Fitz.” We love every minute being with this little man (ok, not so much the poopy diaper minutes); can’t think of a more heart-full way to nourish the soul. And while the rewards of parenting are and continue to be many, grandparenting is just off the hook joyful!
We’re still evolving the Fridays with Fitz routine, and how we spend our time together will change as he grows. For now, it’s all about familiarizing him with his surroundings and getting him comfortable hanging out with us. So far, our grandparenting super-powers seem to be in effect (or he’s just a chill kid), because the adjustment has been smooth. I spend a lot of time on my knees, crawling on the floor now. All tschotskes in our house have shifted up three feet, out of little hands’ way. We installed a gate at the bottom of the stairs. We eagerly accept hand-me-down toys from friends whose grandchildren have outgrown them. Our lovely dining room décor now features a white plastic high chair. Soothers poke out from the fruit bowl. A playpen is tucked into our den. We take Fitz to the local community centre for tots’ drop-in. We rejoice when he snoozes, our brief opportunities to catch a second wind.
Anyhow, that’s how life is unfolding from our perspective. Here’s how I imagine Fridays with Fitz through our grandson’s eyes…….
I employ two sets of servants to look after me. One set looks after me most of the time, but once a week, the family wagon is loaded with all my stuff and the valet takes me to my Friday house in the city. There, a housekeeper/maid and a butler/chauffeur tend to my every whim for the next eight hours.
10:00 The valet carries me up the stairs to pass me along to back-up servants. The staff seem happy to see me, so i acknowledge them with a smile. My gummy grin has its usual effect: the Housekeeper goes all gooshy and reaches out for me. She plants the first of dozens of damp smooches on my cheek. The Butler moves my luggage out of the front hall into the playroom (aka the living room).
10:04 Freed of my coat, I’m plopped gently on the floor. I’m now eye-level with the huge furry beast that lives with the Housekeeper and Butler. Face-to-face with the Creature is kind of like going through Security at the airport: she waves her tongue back and forth over me like a screening wand. I guess packing a couple soothers doesn’t count as contraband because just before the Housekeeper jumps in to intervene, the Creature slurps me from side of my neck to top of my head with her sandpaper tongue. I wave her off impatiently. I have wall sockets to stick my fingers into, stairs to climb. First though, I sprint crawl into the kitchen and before the Butler can say, “yikes, he’s on the loose!”, I upturn the Creature’s food bowl and giggle as kibble skittles across the floor and under the fridge. I’m happy at myself. The Housekeeper scoops me up and carries me back into the playroom.
10:06 I let go a few protest wanks (overturning the water dish will have to wait til later) but my wily servants throw a diversion in my path: the Big Box of Toys. The noisy ones are my favourites but I don’t think the servants like them. I have a DJ set-up that wails random tunes. But, when I repeatedly hit the plastic guitar with my fist and Elmo squeals, “Hi there, friend… let’s play a song!”, the Butler cringes.
10:20 The guitar seems to have disappeared from the toy box. The Butler is smiling.
10:25 I grab a hard red plastic ball and pull myself to a stand against a wall. I smash the wall over and over again with the ball. The Housekeeper pries it from my fingers and dangles another diversion tactic: liquid gold.
10:40 Get into my belly! With 11 months of practice, I’m aces at chug-a-lugging a bottle in no time. The Housekeeper seems disappointed.
10:42 The Housekeeper has a persistent habit of pulling out the back of my pants and peering inside. Pervert.
10:43 Housekeeper-Now-Incredible-Hulk has me in a fireman’s carry under one arm. She lugs me somewhere, and plunks me on my back on a semi-soft surface. She reaches into my luggage and now leaning over using a half Nelson, goes about some business involving my nether regions. Constant writhing and squirming earns me the trophy I’m after – the Housekeeper’s i-phone. As she finishes dressing me, I shove her phone deep down between the cushions.
10:55 The Butler says something about “outside” that causes the Creature to run eagerly to the front door. The Housekeeper buttons me into my coat as the Butler grabs my luggage and carries me to the car. The Creature doesn’t come with us. I don’t think the Creature is happy about that.
10:57 The Housekeeper runs back into the house while The Butler straps me into my seat. She says something about not being able to find her phone.
11:11 She reappears. She makes a comment to the Butler and wags her finger at me. I’m not sure what “wascally wabbit” means.
11:42 I am finally strapped in to the car-seat. The Butler grumbles “the kid could survive an Apollo rocket re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere in this thing.” The Housekeeper laughs as she winks at me.
11:59 The Butler parks the car and comes ‘round to loosen my straps and lift me out of the seat. I’m carried inside to the noisiest, biggest, rubberiest, toy-filled room I’ve ever seen. It’s jam-packed with people my size and their servants. The Housekeeper takes off my shoes and coat and puts me on the ground, pointing me towards the middle of the room.
12:05 Scanning, scanning. I see so many things to put in my mouth: a ball. A tambourine. A phone. A lemon. A pigtail.
1:30 Time to go back to my Friday house. The Butler puts me back in my car-seat. I’ve had a busy morning and fall asleep within 30 seconds of the car moving. I wake up as soon as I’m lifted out of the car, refreshed and ready for new adventures. My staff seem to be flagging a bit, though.
2:00 The Housekeeper decides I should try solid food. I’m game. First up is applesauce. First I test it for adhesion; it sticks nicely to the highchair tray. Next test, cosmetic utility; I smear some on my face. It feels good. Two for two. Third test, gravitational pull; I fling some at the floor. Yep, lands with a satisfying splat. Last test – taste. I allow a tiny bit in my mouth, swirl it around and swallow. Meh. But a score of 3 out of 4 for applesauce. Not bad.
2:30 We pretend it’s nap time. I like this game. My staff try everything to get me to nap, and I do everything I can to keep them awake. Usually no one sleeps, so it’s a tie.
3:00 – 5:00 The rest of the afternoon is a blur. I have a bath, I bang on tables, chairs, walls, the Creature. I tip the Creature’s food and water bowl over again. I go ‘outlet’ shopping: I really want to find out what’s in those mysterious holes in the wall. My staff, for some reason, keep looking at the clock. I don’t go home until nearly 6:00, so I’m puzzled by this.
5:30 It’s not time to go home yet, but I have a lot of stuff, so my staff start packing up. The Housekeeper keeps mentioning something about wine.
6:00 I’m returned to my principal residence and am greeted by my staff. Everyone makes a big fuss over me. Someone pulls the back of my pants out and peers down my diaper. Geez, what’s with these people? So hard to get good help.
“If I’d known grandchildren were going to be so much fun, I’d have had them first.”
“A grandmother pretends she doesn’t know who you are on Hallowe’en.”
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