The saying “it takes a village to raise a child” rings true, says this grandma
I heard the little voice “are we there yet” over a dozen times this week and ignored it like a teenager does his ranting and raving mum asking his room to be cleaned. That little voice is persistent, full of fiery spirit eager to be acknowledged. To be true to myself I need to confess, that little voice is mine. I need to let it free.
You see, umm (moment’s pause after lot of deliberation), I think I have reached the grandma age. I said it and it is out there! Before anyone gets any ideas, I am not officially one yet (at least when I checked last I wasn’t one). However, to keep the conversation flowing I do have my ‘grandma training wheels’ on right now. So to prepare myself before the main event, I thought I would babysit my niece’s two gorgeous daughters, a toddler and a pre-schooler.
The saying “it takes a village to raise a child” rings true. In this instance, it took two villages (my husband and I). Why did I feel like a boxer being let into the ring to fight? Oops, wrong analogy. I felt like a mother out of touch with baby lingo, rudderless and without my grandma compass. I had to dig deep, very deep to get that jargon out. Baby talk is a bit like cycling, you have a few falls before you let the wind sweep through your hair and enjoy the ride. When you finally get the hang of it, you wear your windswept hair with baby drool over it with bravado.
As soon as my husband and I stepped into the apartment, the toddler’s instinct kicked in. This precious being knew her mum and dad would be abandoning her soon. She spat out her mushy dinner, filled her lungs with the deepest breath and let out a long hard cry with a waterfall of tears, choking and gasping to add to the ambiance. If she wasn’t that little I would have sworn her acting was worthy of an Emmy. The challenge in front of me was to placate the young parents to exit the apartment, leaving their precious parcel in my not-so-capable hands. I knew I had to act fast and instantly scooped up the flashlight lying on the kitchen table. After all it did promise a light at the end of the tunnel. I turned the flashlight on. The wailing and crying got louder. I could not give up. That was for amateurs. I turned the flashlight on again in bursts. The wailing turned to a whimper. Encouraging! My envious Bollywood act with cooing sounds interspersed with hip gyrations and a burst of flashlight created a glint in her watery eyes. The wailing threatened to erupt again. I could not risk the dam bursting again so gave it my best shot. Hip gyrations to the sound of my own cooing and choking, coupled with eye and mouth contortions and of course, the flashlight movements. Catching a glimpse of my reflection on the cabinet door I stopped in my tracks. The crying started. I resumed my manic dance. The crying stopped and a gorgeous smile erupted. Hallelujah! Exhausted, parched and utterly triumphant I had to sit down.
The phone rang and the caller, my niece (the mother of the babe) was checking in trying to feign nonchalance. A mother’s heart can never enjoy a glass of red knowing that her bonnie babe is melting down in the arms of her aunt. On cue the toddler took a breather and cuddled into my arms. All quiet on the western front. I felt elated that I had not lost my touch (I have two kids of my own). To add to the glamour, I asked my husband to take some happy photographs of the moment (not before I set my hair in place and touched up my lippie). The photos did paint a serene picture and told a great story.
The baby was asleep in the crib with blaring music in the background as the pre-schooler would not have it any other way. My thoughts floated back to the time when I was a young mum with babies in a foreign country. You needed a village then and you need a village now to bring up babies although FaceTime and Peppa Pig can arguably stand in as the substitute village.
With these tools of the trade, I am ready, able and willing to step into the unchartered territory of a Grandma.