Little Guys

BOYS BEING BOYLIKE
BOYS BEING BOYLIKE

I never had any sons. Never missed it. Had three daughters and was glad of it. Now here I am with these grandsons, and it’s interesting. It isn’t really what I expected at all.

Looking back, I suppose I thought of little boys as just small men. And being just miniature men, I assumed, they must be somewhat oblivious. Unaware. Insensitive. Less drama, you see. This is not the case, I know that now.

For example, when Christian was about five, he got a sliver in his foot at my house and his mother had to use a needle to take it out. Try to take it out, that is, since death by sliver was imminent. It took a long time and everyone involved was an emotional wreck when it was over. And then there was the time Toddler Bret bumped his head at his sister’s birthday party, climbed into an armchair, and refused to budge until a decent level of attention had been payed. So there’s another tragedian in the family.

Baby Lee, on the other hand, looks to be a typically placid male. I babysat over there last weekend, and one of the instructions was: when you take the dog out, be sure to put Lee in his bouncer, because if you leave him on the floor the other kids will roll him. This is the kind of thing up with which he will put. He lies on the living room floor like a rock, people and dogs stepping over him with impunity on their way to somewhere else, and doesn’t flinch.

Of course, boys can be more aggressive than girls. Christian exhibited a fondness for sticks before he could walk. Sticks, stick-like objects, anything really with the appearance of a weapon. And then it seems all males are born with the wrestling gene. Little boys wrestle little boys, big boys wrestle big boys, little boys wrestle big boys, men wrestle little boys, big boys and anyone else willing to roll around on the floor. What is that about? Wrestling makes me nervous.

Finally, it is commonly held that girls are more verbal than boys. Yet it seems to me that every one of my three grandsons started jabbering away as soon as they discovered their vocal chords. Not that you could understand what they were saying, but why would that deter them. Even Baby Lee is turning into a blabber, although I put that down to the influence of a sister who talks from sunrise to sunset and a brother who talks almost as much lest he go unnoticed. It’s noisy at their house, that’s all I’m saying.

So what have we learned? We have learned that boys are different and complex. Toddler Bret is apt to chuck objects across the room (train cars, food) without regard for human welfare. And in the middle of the night he only wants his mother. Christian finds it amusing to throw ear-splitting fake grenades on the floor two feet from his unsuspecting grandmother. And then he tells me he’s sorry he drooled on the pillow in his sleep because it means I have to wash the pillowcase. Baby Lee will play by himself on the floor uncomplaining. And when you pick him up he smiles and smiles, happy to be noticed.

But mostly I have learned this: there is a sweetness in little boys that is so touching you almost can’t bear it. It can put a knot in your stomach and a lump in your throat. It can surely break your heart.

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Pages from Grandma’s Diaries: Bret Jr., Part 2

NOW I AM BIG.

Toddler Bret had his second birthday this week. I think I can still call him Toddler Bret since he just entered the Twos, as evidenced by the minor meltdown at his birthday party yesterday. “Just leave him alone and he’ll stop,” his sister said. Which proved to be the case after everyone – grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins – studiously avoided looking at him and certainly made no attempt to engage him in speech.

What really brought him around was his mother’s suggestion that he open his gifts a little early. It was an amazing turnaround. His favorite present was a little remote-controlled dog from his 93-year-old great-grandma. It didn’t matter how many times the dog walked off the end of the coffee table, he found it hilarious every time.

He liked everything else after that… the Happy Birthday song and the cake and the candles, which he blew out all by himself because he’s a big boy now. Soon he will be a big brother to someone. We’ll see how that goes. Meanwhile, here’s a few thoughts from the last two years.

December 31, 2009
The most exciting news I got over the holidays is that grandchild No. 5 is on the way. Gina and Bret like to surprise me with this kind of thing. When she was pregnant with Cosette, they gave me a bunch of photos to look at, including one of the dog next to a sign that said, “I’m going to be a big sister.” I thought they were getting another dog, which seemed odd, but not for them.

You’d think they’d learn to give it to me straight, but no. This time they gave me a jar of spaghetti sauce for Christmas. I thought maybe it was homemade. It wasn’t. Then I thought, “What a stupid gift.” Finally, someone yelled, “She’s prego!” There are no Hallmark moments in our family.

September 8, 2010
I babysat for Cosette and Baby Bret Sunday night while their parents went to Stillwater for a good night’s rest. It’s hard to make it through the night at their house, mainly because Baby Bret has some baby reflux thing going on, which is seldom bad enough to wake him up but enough so he complains in his sleep.

The complaints are hard to describe, but they’re enough to set off the super-sensitive baby monitor sitting on the nightstand next to your head. As a result, you’re in his room roughly every half-hour, because maybe he really is awake and needs something. You never know and you never will until you get up and check. I sort of gave up on sleeping after a while, which is why I was washing dishes at 3:30 in the morning.

December 30, 2010
I watched Cosette and Baby Bret last night. He’s a pretty easygoing baby, especially if you carry him around without stopping. I guess he’s hungry a lot, because I’ve never known a baby so determined to suck your face. Which is hard to avoid when you are, as I say, carrying him around nonstop. As soon as his little face gets next to yours, he’s sucking your cheek or your chin or your eye socket. It feels weird. It is weird.

Also, he never stops talking. I call it talking because I don’t know what it is. It’s loud and comes from down in his throat somewhere. Along with Cosette’s never-ending dialogue, it’s noisy at their house. I would be very surprised if that changed in the new year.

January 28, 2011
I’m babysitting for six-month-old Baby Bret tonight while the rest of the family goes ice skating. Haven’t seen him for a while, but I imagine he’s as chubby as ever, and since he obviously can’t propel himself anywhere, I’ll have to lug him around. It isn’t going to help my back, which is still achy from last Saturday night when I slept with ten-year-old Maria, who will sleep smack dab in the middle of the mattress and good luck trying to move her.

He’s a cheerful little guy though, Baby Bret that is, as long as you keep him fed. Which I do whether it’s feeding time or not. My job, I believe, is to keep them happy by whatever means necessary and let their parents deal with it later. It is free babysitting after all, by someone who really loves your kid and doesn’t care what time you come home. Not surprisingly, parents find this very appealing. I figure they can deal with a kid who’s a little off his schedule.

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Blogging Facts (or What Happened the Night of July 17, 2006)

 

YOUR BLOG IS CALLING.

So I’ve been at this blogging thing for about a month now and here’s what I’ve learned: if you want to add another guilt-inducing commitment to your life, take up blogging. Because it is a commitment, and just like all your other commitments, it nags you: “Pick me! Where have you been? You haven’t paid attention to me for days. People will lose interest. Do you want to lose friends?” Yada, yada, yada.

The thing is, when life slows down a bit – like maybe you’re trapped in an Arctic blizzard for six months – finding time to blog is no problem. But when life is hectic (read now), you look at the next empty page and your brain goes numb. So to keep up, I thought I’d share some things I’ve written in the past. Some are stories about my grandkids, saved for their future amusement and/or everlasting embarrassment. And here comes one now…

July 18, 2006

I’d just like to say to those people who urged me to choose Option B (babysitting) over Option A (hauling boxes) during my daughter’s move to a bigger home last night that you are without a clue. I didn’t lift heavy objects in 90-degree weather, but I did watch 11-month-old Grace, who used to stay where you put her but is now mobile even though she still doesn’t have a lick of sense, and little Christian, who just turned two and is pretty much fed up with the whole relocation thing and basically just wanted his mother and got mad and threw the butter and the plastic butter dish out the kitchen door, although it landed right-side up, so no harm done.

Well, you ask, what was a 2-year-old doing playing with the butter? That’s a long story and not one that shows me in the best light, so I’m going to ignore it. But if I were you, I’d take with a grain of salt those TV spots shot in grandma’s cozy kitchen, unless of course they also show the grandchild throwing cookie dough out the window.

You love them to pieces, but there’s a whole other side.