I am thinking of making the airport wheel chair experience permanent. My initial reluctance to look like an invalid has been replaced with a crafty glee in by-passing security lines, check-in lines, filing sheep-like into- the- plane lines, and trudging all over the airport. The little electric carts are just fine, and I’ve met some very nice people while being pushed around. The only down side is that since I don’t actually have a cast anymore, and can walk short distances, people tend to look at me with either a mixture of disbelief and disdain, or envy and disdain, or pity and disdain. Some won’t look at me at all. I think I can get over it.
I minded Nico and Gabriella this weekend all by myself. The foot was sometimes a problem, as there is no way you don’t do a lot of walking with young children – up and down stairs, in and out of the house, preparing eats, going from the car to the playground, and some rescue work at the playground. Gabriella, who is a good climber, unfortunately, went to the top of the monkey bars. Now, I have seen her climb up it and down it. But I got nervous, knowing I couldn’t reach her if she got stuck at the top, so I hovered, and she got stuck at the top. A mom saw the dilemma and rescued her, but she wouldn’t talk to me, like I was the most irresponsible idiot who ever set foot in the playground.
So we came over to the condo, which they love to do. The condo is the extra house Nate and Monica bought after they sold their 1400 sq. ft. house in California and bought a 3000 square foot house in a beautiful neighborhood in North Carolina. The condo has two bedrooms and a closet full of toys contributed by grandparents who stay there while visiting. The master bathroom has a huge hot tub with jets. They hate the jets, love the big tub. At home, they have a half acre back garden with a swing set, slide, sand box with a frog living in it, lots of balls and toys, but still they love to come to the condo.
I got to stay at the big house for the first week. It was bliss having the kids come in first thing, have a cuddle and a story. When it was time to move over to the condo, I told Nico I wouldn’t be there in the morning. He said, But will you come over before I go to school? I had thought I would have a morning off after the weekend baby-sitting. But when I said no, but I would pick him up from schoool, his little face crumpled and he said, "But that will be too long!" What could I do? Of course, I said I’d be over in the morning.
As I was saying good night to Gabriella I also told her I wouldn’t be sleeping there. She asked why not? I told her there were things I had to do at the condo, but would she come and stay with me sometime. She said, Well, I have a lot of things to do = wash my two windows (in her bedroom), sweep, and other stuff. So I said, Oh, are you too busy? and she replied, Maybe. Three-year-old pride?
NIco is doing really well now. He is enjoying writing letters which he didn’t like doing before because it was too hard. Although the letters are clumsy, he can do it, and sounded out Stegasaurus on a picture he drew for me. It came out Stugosors, but who is quibbling? He is reading some words and eager to learn to read everything. He likes to watch tv programs that will help him learn, in addition to watching his preferred dinosaur documentaries. There is a hilarious word program for kids here on PBS called "Between the Lions" which I enjoy watching, too!! He can also count to 100 in French, which he especially likes to do when it’s time to go to bed.
Gabriella on the other hand is tough at the moment. The terrible twos are infamous, but don’t believe it. Threes are worse. She is adorable, of course – did you see the picture of her with cocoa on her face and two hats? (Click on it to enlarge it). But also she is into willful. If you are in a hurry, she slows down. If you want her to get dressed, she has to put her animals to bed, work on her leap pad, clean up her room, try on her princess dresses, put Grandma’s face cream on, draw a picture, or – well, she’s really creative. I had to put on my patience hat, and tell myself that if we don’t get to the park at 10:30, it doesn’t matter. So we get there at 12:30. Or not at all. Except that once we’ve said we’re going, Nico doesn’t forget. While he also has his stalling strategies, he understands that some cooperation is necessary and wants to go – so he starts nagging, too. Sigh.
After a weekend with them, I remember how hard it is to get into kids’ rythms and stay there. They do need time to just BE and not to be rushed anywhere. Frustrating, when you are a busy Mom or Dad. And then, you have to be aware of them all the time. It only takes seconds for them to disappear. I was in the kitchen cleaning up, and then suddenly Gabriella was in the front yard in just her tee- shirt. I think she got her Daddy’s gene for wandering.
Also, when you are with them all the time you have no time for yourself I’m not sure I even brushed my teeth. I certainly didn’t wash my hair or put on any make-up. After 8 weeks of enforced sitting, it was a rude shock. But it did take me back. Parents everywhere, pat yourselves on the back. Before you know it, you will be grandparents too, and you will find that the cliche is true. Grandparents can just enjoy little children, and then hand them back to their Moms and Dads.