|She is so tiny and we are not a tiny baby family!|
Using the pricing analogy that $1.99 looks a whole lot cheaper than $2.00, accurately describes the way I feel about being 59 years of age, instead of 60. Not cheaper, exactly, but on paper it just looks a lot less. I know this is truly a delusional state of mind I’m living in, but I’m savoring every day of my last year in my fifth decade. I don’t feel old. And if it wasn’t for the damn mirror, I’m not sure I’d be aging at all!
But a recent trip to Tennessee with my sister to help lend a hand with her daughter (my niece) Beth who had just had her second child, made me realize, I am old…der.
The plan was simple. Betty would tend to her daughter, who needed a little extra help because she had a Cesarean, and her new granddaughter, Jocelyn. I would see to the needs of Drew, my 4-yr-old great nephew. The two of us have a long-standing relationship. We are buddies and have been since the day he was born. With Betty and I there, Beth’s husband Andy could work as much as he needed to and then be more available when we left. Perfect plan, until it wasn’t
Only hours after our arrival, my sister Betty came down with a fever, chills, aches and severe cough. Not wanting to be around a newborn or, anyone, for that matter, sick and heartbroken, she retreated to her room for the first few days requesting that I make a pot of chicken soup. Which I did. Beth was having some post-operative issues which were preventing her from doing what she wanted to for the baby, having to keep her swollen feet elevated. Andy, Beth's husband, helped when he was home, Drew and I chipped in for the rest.
|At five days old, she studied my face with such curiosity...|
Now, thirty years ago I had two babies in one year, so you can imagine my surprise at how intimidated I was when it came to handling a newborn. She is so tiny and we are not a tiny baby family! I had trouble manipulating her little arms into the long sleeved Onesie.
For an experienced mom, I felt like I was all thumbs. Trying to hold her little legs from kicking while putting on a diaper was harder than any multi-tasking I had done in years. Adding to my anxiety was that this little beauty was not a real crier. She made just enough noise to let me know she wasn’t happy, but otherwise she seemed to study my face with pure intent, as if to ask “who are you?” I would lean close and whisper "I'm your aunt". Great aunt, actually, I just can't say that word out loud. It makes me sound older.
After gently maneuvering to get everything on without breaking something, I scooped her up and smiled. Drew walked in and asked what I was doing. I tilted Jocelyn forward and looked in her face. "I'm having a conversation with your sister. I think she thinks I'm a little crazy." He patted me reassuringly, "Don't worry, JoJo. I'll explain you to her when she is older." I'm not even sure what that meant.
After a few days, we couldn't contain Betty in her bedroom anymore and we let her out. Even wearing a mask, she was so happy to hold her granddaughter. With my sister rebounding, I became Drew's full time chauffeur. School was easy, it's not even a mile away. McDonald's was just a little further. He convinced me that his mother always took him for a milkshake after school. By the third milkshake, I asked her about it. Beth looked at me as if I had two heads. "Really, JoJo, do you think I do that?" I'm such a sucker. An old sucker.
With school and McDonald's down pat, my niece asked if I could take Drew to swim lessons. No problem! I've got this! Beth explained the directions and off we went. As I headed to the first light, I moved over to the middle lane to turn left. “What are you doing?” Drew asked. “Your Mom told me to make a left at the first light.” I answered with the confidence of someone who had never been to Tennessee in her life.
“No, you need to make a right here,” he insisted.
|My buddy always knows where he is going!|
“No, your Mom told me to turn left here. Now Drew understood that the light was still red but that it was going to turn green soon and that I had a decision to make. The timing of the situation caused him to raise his arms like an air traffic controller and then repeatedly pointed both of them to the right. I could see in the rear mirror that this little man was totally exasperated with me.
“I speak the true, I speak the true!”
He kept yelling. “We are going to get lost if you don’t turn right!” At this point, it didn't matter what Beth said or even what I heard. What made sense to me was that this kid knew where he was going and I didn't. I turned right and he then gave a blow by blow description of how to get to swim lessons, including "stop at the next light." "Why," I asked. "Are we turning?" "No", he replied. "It's red."
I listened quietly and did everything he said because, after all, he speaks “the true”. When we pulled into the university parking lot he pointed out the door to the pool entrance. I couldn't help smiling. “Boy, Drew, you know everything!” He unbuckled his seat, grabbed his swim bag and replied, “I don’t know everything JoJo. I am only 4.” That is the true. I'm 59 and don't know everything.
So for a couple of weeks, I had more to think about then myself. I must admit, it felt good to be needed. Tiring, but good. Each morning, Drew would come out of his bedroom, climb on the couch and snuggle with me. A few minutes later, Beth would come out and hand me the baby to feed as she got Drew's breakfast. It was flannel haven. Great training to be a grandmother. Now I know that title will permanently force me out of hiding behind $1.99 priceline, but somehow, I don't think I'll mind.