coming out of my shell

coming out of my shell

Thursday, July 16, 2015


Our 3-year old grandson, N, thinks he is the boss of us.  He is a quirky, funny little person, a bundle of bedevilment and raw, wild energy.  He is also a fledgling megalomaniac.  We often babysit for him while our daughter M runs our amazing granddaughter E all over the county to take singing, dancing, and acting classes, or to participate in plays.  Or at least that is what M says she is doing.  For all I know she is at home taking a nap, the babysitting angle simply a desperate ruse to get away from him for a few quiet hours. I would not blame her.  Babysitting for him is exciting on both a psychological and historical level, because what we may actually be observing are his very first attempts at world domination.

Upon arrival, he insists that we run through an entire routine of activities every damn time.  First we play tag, hide-and-go-seek, computer games, cars, and Lego-type assemblage stuff.  He enjoys the occasional tea party.  He pours. 

Sometimes we go into Grandpa T’s music room and then the three of us have a band.  He likes Grandpa to turn on the microphone so he can yell “One, Two….One, Two, Three, GOOOOO!”  Then we all play musical instruments badly and yell loudly.  I like to play the Conga.  Unfortunately, my Conga playing gets on N's nerves so he usually assigns me a different instrument to play, and dontcha know he tells me exactly how to play it, too.

He maintains a fort in our bedroom.  For most of the past year it was simply a quilt over a tubular quilting frame.  Unfortunately he figured out how to disassemble it, which quickly became part of the “routine” so we had to take it down.   It is too complicated to put back together all the time. Instead, we bought a fabric and post, castle-like structure at Ikea and now it takes up a good part of our bedroom.   Spoiler alert: the castle fort is his usual hiding place when we play hide-and-go-seek.

During the hot 6 months of the year we swim in the pool and there are swimming routines as well.  Once again this includes playing tag and hide-and-go-seek, but this time in the water amongst blow-up alligators and large round tubes.  He will hang on to the skirt of my bathing suit (yeah, I’m one of those women) and insist Grandpa hangs on to his (N’s) foot and then it is my job, no, it is my sacred duty to drag them all around the pool. Afterwards we bring out the water guns and he and I gang up on Grandpa.  In spite of our superior numbers, Grandpa usually wins.    

After an hour of swim play we try to coax him out of the pool.  It is helpful that there is a rainy season in Central Florida because we get short storms most afternoons.  He is well motivated to get out of the pool if he hears thunder.  Otherwise, it is a bit challenging to get him out of the water and into the house.  When we manage to get him inside he sits in front of the TV watching animated shows while eating the same exact food every time.  I have tried to trick him into eating different foods, but he notices right away.

After he eats and his “show” has ended, we have to argue with him (every time) to get him ready to drive home.  He simply will not go quietly into the night.  He cries and acts as if we have rejected him.  The guilt!  We really must take him home at that point because 1. All three of us are exhausted, and 2. He is now as mean as a snake.  If we are lucky we can get him to leave the house and head towards the car without further dramatics. Sometimes I just pick him up and carry him out, but then he screams bloody murder and flails his chubby little arms and legs right and left.  It is embarrassing once I realize the neighbors are staring at us. 

Of course, if we are not ready to leave he will bust out of the house and we have to chase him down before he runs into the street.  He knows how to unlock the door.  I am telling you, there is no stopping this kid.  

When we get outside he will inevitably break loose and run around the car, making us chase and catch him before getting him into the car and on his car seat.  He runs really fast, too - the little stinker.  That annoys Grandpa, who is usually on his last nerve by then.  You simply cannot imagine the sense of relief T and I feel when we hear that seat belt click shut, effectively locking him in place.  All three of us are usually screaming and fighting with each other as T backs the car down the driveway, and that is probably why none of the neighbors talk to us. 

Once we are on our way we must play the same children songs on the car stereo while we drive him home.  He lives a really long 12 minutes away from us.  He won't allow us to play the entire CD, only the handful of songs he calls his "silly songs."  Often he makes us replay one particular "silly song" over and over for the entire drive.  T really likes that part, I can tell.

Of course, he can also be sweet, polite, loving, kindhearted, and affectionate, but that does not make for an interesting post. 

Let kids be kids, you know what I mean?  Soon enough they will be subjected daily, hourly, by the minute to nearly constant judgment and restraint.  It sucks to be a grown up. 

You know, I can actually feel people judging me right now for spoiling this kid.  Luckily I am old enough not to give a shit.  I figure my job as Grandma is to love him and give him a safe place to be his stinkin’ glorious 3-year old self. 

N likes to yell, pretend to burp, laugh, tell silly jokes that make no sense, joyously run from authority, and eat chicken sticks.  He is also the last grandchild I will ever have.  I adore him and I love his little hijinks, just like I did with his older sister when she was 3-years old.  I think a joyous childhood can help one endure what life has in store for grown ups. 

In fact, I think it is just as important for a child to learn to be a stinker as it is for them to learn their ABC’s. 
OK, I am starting to feel the judgment again.  My fingers are in my ears and I am singing our favorite "silly song" at the top of my lungs.  There, it is gone. 

I can hardly wait until he comes over again.  And yes, he is much better behaved and well mannered when he is around his parents and his other grandparents.  I am not sure why.  


  1. I am glad that you & T moved to Florida to experience all of the joys of E & N!

    1. Thanks! It was the only reason we moved here. Otherwise I would be enjoying the cool, rainy summer in Ithaca. I am quite sure I would be complaining about the weather there, too.

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  3. Thanks for reading my blog. Reading this, you are a patient woman. I don't think I would have the energy:)

    1. Thanks. It is only a raging case of Grandma love that keeps me in the game. Believe me when I say I am utterly depleted after babysitting for a couple of hours. Love the foxglove photo on your site. I am a northerner trying to adjust to living in relentlessly hot and sunny Central Florida and there are so many flowers that I miss, foxglove being one of them. I like your blog!


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