On a perfect morning when I have to take my grandkids to daycare, I have everything set up before they’re awake.
My son makes Landon’s green smoothie and Dani’s bottle before he leaves for work, so I don’t have to worry about forgetting to put probiotics or whatever in their breakfast.
Landon is easy. He’s seven-years-old and all I have to do is wake him up and make sure he’s rolling. Dani’s just 13-months-old and needs a lot more attention.
After I get Landon up and make sure he’s out of bed, I go to Dani’s bedroom. Most of the time, she wakes up and she’s crying to be let out of prison…uh, her crib. She looks so pathetic and adorable with tears in her eyes, even after I pick her up.
Sometimes, she’s still asleep and I have to gently wake her up by rubbing her back. Even when she wakes and starts crying, it takes her ten or fifteen minutes to become completely alert.
This morning, when I went into her room, she was awake and standing, but not crying at all. It was like she was just waiting for me.
I usually pick her up and start talking to her. I walk through the kitchen, making sure Landon’s at the table with his breakfast, then take her to the windows facing the back yard. This time of year, it’s still low light between six and six-thirty, and it’s easy on her eyes as we greet the morning together.
Sometimes she smiles, I’m not sure at what, as she looks outside.
Then I lay her down on the floor to change her diaper.
I have a fresh diaper prepared and wipes are ready in case she has a nasty surprise for me.
If she’s still sleepy, she’ll yawn and stretch (the stretching doesn’t make it easy to get her out of her jammies). If she’s congested and grumpy, she’ll cry and we’ll endure the diaper change together until I can get her dressed and hold her. This morning she was a happy baby and we laughed and made faces and funny noises at each other.
I look at Landon periodically while dressing Dani and I feel sorry for him. He’s not a morning person and he seems to be desperately in need of coffee (which he won’t have for many years to come). I can sympathize. Never talk to me in the morning before my first cup of coffee and I become human.
Landon didn’t want a green smoothie this morning, but since that’s what his Dad wants him to have for breakfast, it’s non-negotiable. If he finishes it all and we have time, I’ll fix him some toast, and if we really have time, also a couple of scrambled eggs.
Today, I reminded him that on the weekends (tomorrow), I make “from-scratch” pancakes for him. He brightened up after that.
Dani has to be awake for a while before she’ll take her bottle, so after she’s dressed, I play on the floor with her. Sometimes she likes it when I try to mimic the noises she makes. She thinks it’s a game. She bangs blocks together, puts these big plastic Legos (they’re huge, she can’t swallow them) in her mouth, crawls under the coffee table like she’s hiding from me, or turns the pages in one of her books (huge cardboard pages she can’t possibly tear).
Up until recently, I used to get her bottle, then hold her in my arms, sit in the rocking chair, and let her eat. I think that’s how we first bonded. It must be very comforting and secure for a baby to be held close while taking a bottle.
Lately, she’s been more independent. I just give her the bottle while she’s sitting on the floor, and she puts it in her mouth and starts drinking. I know when she’s done because she starts rolling the bottle on the floor like a toy, pushing it around.
Landon and I play what we call “talking games.” He sets up a situation, like he’s a certain character and I have to choose a character, then we are in a situation, usually derived from some TV show, movie, or book he likes, then we take turns telling the story.
In our current story, he’s “Snake Boy” who is also Landon, and I’m “Grandpa” but I have an intelligent, talking pet mongoose (I created the mongoose to more or less cancel Landon’s snake powers, but his snake can be over three stories tall, so that cancels the mongoose).
At the kitchen table, while I was watching Dani eat and play, he reminded me of where we left off in our story, which ironically, was putting him to bed last night. After he’s brought me up to speed and he’s finished breakfast, he gets dressed and ready for daycare.
I sometimes think this is the highlight of Dani’s morning.
When I pick her up and walk out to the garage, she really lights up. She laughs and squeals when I put her in her car seat, especially if her brother is sitting next to her.
Then I make sure the house is secure and put my shoes on.
In the car, Dani is either quiet or making happy noises. Landon and I talk through our game on the ride over.
When we get to the daycare center, I have to enter a key code to unlock the door. They change it periodically, so every so many weeks, I have to memorize a new one. Today, Landon spotted a couple of his friends right away, so he said a hasty “good-bye” and was off.
To check the kids in, I have to enter a four-digit code on a computer keypad. Everything’s electronic these days.
I let the daycare person know who’s going to be picking the kids up and about what time. Then everyone goes about their usual routine.
I go back to my car after waving “bye-bye” to Dani (she doesn’t seem to know what it means yet), and drive to work.
Sometimes Landon will leave one of his stuffed animals in the backseat, and I know he’ll be missing it until I get home.
I usually get about halfway to work when I start missing them. The car seat looks particularly empty and I get this momentary sensation that I left the kids behind and alone (no, of course I didn’t, but it feels strange when I’ve had them in the morning and then they’re gone).
By the time I pull into the parking lot where I work, my brain has reset for my usual routine, but the mornings when I’m alone with my grandchildren, taking care of them, playing with them, getting them ready to leave the house, remind me why I love being a Grandpa so much.
I suppose there’s no real reason why I wrote this story. I just wanted to.