When my daughter told me she was expecting, she informed me that I could start making a baby quilt. So I gestured for her to follow me to the quilting storage boxes to show her the stash of fabrics I’d already bought for it. I was quite ready to be a grandmother. I began sewing immediately, and rushed to finish the quilt before the due date. By the time it was done, Michael was ten days old. The thing was a simple appliqué block covered with embroidered flowers, in bright batiks and a rainbow of floss. Seven months of needlework, and I rushed the last bit of embroidery.
Michael is, as of this writing, three months old, and he’s my first grandchild. He is, of course, adorable. According to the law of infants, he is a Gandhi rather than a Churchill. Now that he’s smiling, he occasionally looks like Alfred E. Newman, but in an adorable way. But when he gets teeth, that’s likely to change, until they start falling out and he gets a gap-tooth grin to look like the cover of MAD Magazine. Again, adorable.
I think it’s rather odd to have a descendant once removed like this. My daughter lets me babysit often, so I get flashbacks of the days when my own children were that size. Old reflexes kick in, and I surprise myself that I remember how to tell whether the baby is hungry, bored, sleepy, or wet, which at this age is all he ever is if he’s awake. When we go places I remember how to get from here to there with a bundle of joy in tow. I’ve learned how to make him laugh, which is new for me. When he laughs I laugh, so I do it a lot. And I wonder why I don’t remember doing that with my own kids. Perhaps that’s what grandparents are for. To do all the things we didn’t think of when our own kids were that age.
But then when he goes home, I find myself occasionally looking around and going, “Where’d the baby go?” Oh, yeah, he’s with his mother, where he belongs. Sometimes he’s with his father, or his other grandmother and aunts, where he also belongs. Odd to have such a life-changing thing and be such a small part of the larger picture. But that’s part of maturing, I guess, and at my age I should be a lot more mature than I really am.
I’m lucky in that in the afternoons he sometimes lets me take a nap. We stretch out on the bed and he watches the ceiling fan go around and around while I doze some. Usually he lets me do my thousands words of novel writing, unless he’s hungry, and then he must have his bottle before I can crack the chapter files. The cats all seem to know he’s too young to be worth harassing. Besides, he doesn’t have any food, so they all leave him alone.
I look forward to the day when he will understand when I read to him. I have saved all the best children’s books my own kids enjoyed, and have recently acquired a full set of Winnie the Pooh books. I also have all the old Disney Classics on DVD. The other day we watched “Monsters, Inc.” though Michael seemed more interested in reading the warning labels on the inside of his crib. He likes noise, so I could probably have it on CNN and he would be okay with that. Yesterday I saw a pony ride at the shopping center, and wished Michael were a little older. Another couple of years, though, and I’ll be the goofy grandparent taking photos of him riding the pony with both hands on the saddle horn, laughing and grinning like the cover of MAD Magazine.