Is there a right way to eat? Well, I didn’t think so until I watched your sister with her banana. She peels the entire banana, naked and sticky-bare. Then she thoroughly grooms it-removing the strings and tiny nub of seeds at the tail end, grasps the entire length facing her with two hands, full-fisted and bites through the middle. Like an ear of corn, smashes her face into it, pushing, mushing it into herself as it breaks apart, squishing into her fists and out her fingers. I watch her the way a tired out partner views a noisy habit across the table. It tells me I have to get out more. Discontinue viewing then reflecting upon the children eating. Get a life.
This year I will do just that-reclaim some time. For two and a half years I have been your Mommy person. Your grandma-ma. I will continue to be that, but this year is the transition, the year that you stay overnight with daddy in regularly scheduled blocks of time. The year that I rediscover my self. Sounds like a tall order. I might find some free hours to focus on something other than the scum in the bottom of the produce drawer.
You children are doing well. Very well. You play together for hours, invent dramas and create scenes with boxes and blankets as you both become pretend mommies with nursing babies, animal nesting, predator avoidance, and shark swimming. You move from the living room, to the trampoline, under it and jumping games on top, to the lower herb garden, foraging savory plants to munch and then to the dry pond rock fall where you perch and squawk. Liza used to try to follow your rules, but now play includes both your good ideas. Her language skills help, emotional outbursts are fewer and she really is a preschooler at 3 1/2. She’s much more fun as a play buddy when she generates good ideas.
Liza still keeps all of us on our toes. These days its less about tantrums and more about being the social knowledge monitor for the household. She puts things back where they belong, moving the remote to the exact place I place it when done, putting the portable phone back in the cradle, reminding me of the exact fork she can mix the eggs with and getting the proper egg pan. No other will do. The rules according to Liza include reminding us what things are called, prefaced by, “actually.” “Actually, its a steak knife. Not a paring knife.” She offers us very little lee-way.
You are drawing, drawing, drawing. You return from the aquarium and run to the drawing pad… Literally pulling off your jacket and seized with the need to represent what ideas you had on your mind the entire hour long drive. You post them on the cellar door which leads Liza to do the same. She has yet to have the hand-eye control to represent her ideas in a way that satisfies her. She grasps the writing implement softly and struggles to control her line. I can see it coming.
We have been trapped together for 20 long days. Just me (sometimes Grandpa) and both you kids. Illnesses ranging from ear infections, throwing up, coughs and lots and lots of snot. The holidays were fun and full of family. Gifts discovered online, friends visited online and rainy days spent with art projects, cooking projects, baths, laundry and toy arranging. You missed the last week of school due to illness, Liza the last few days and now both well. (Liza still coughs for an hour or so after awakening) School starts again on Monday. Yahoo.
She’s picking apart her toast at the counter, tiny scraps falling to the floor, some piled in front of her the size of crusty peas, buttery fingers smearing down the chair as she slips off. Time to set up a schedule with daddy.
By the way, daddy lives next door where the nanny used to live. I have conceived a transition plan. Daddy’s fiance, his new baby and you kids will live in the small house next to ours and you still get time with us. More and more time with your daddy and step-mom. She says she’s eager to have a family of three, calling my two bonus babies. We’ll see. It has to work out.
I suspect that much of my reflection is going to focus on my adjustment, my letting go, my figuring out how to be a supportive grandma person, not a mom losing control of her precious children. I am aware of my investment in your success, my love for each of you and my acquired understanding of each of you special little beings. How might I advocate for you two and stay clear of conflict with dad and step mom? Maybe I will do it here. De-brief, sort and rant. Hope that’s okay. Poor Grandpa. I’ll report successes, too.
Its been a log time since your Mommy fled with you to Montana, buddy. Four years. She’s there now, and you are here thriving without her. The adventure with her will flare up again, but for now the lack of contact is a respite. For me anyway. You only say you miss her every other week or so. It hurts less the pain living in a deeper inside place for both you and Liza.
Dinner with Auntie Annie (my brother Dave’s wife) Uncle AJ and all of the family (15 of us) at Hindquarter after Christmas.
Tony’s wife-to-be, baby in arms and Liza feeding her new dolly. (Cousin Ty in foreground)
Glad to be back. And thrilled to be out of bananas for one day.