I’m in the stage of life when something has atrophied in my skills as a caregiver for the young. I can no longer chase after little children all day and still be my energetic, lovable self. In fact, I’m barely able to put a coherent sentence together after 5 p.m.
I cannot tend to kids and look presentable for very long. Doesn’t matter how perky my hair-do at start of day, in two hours every single strand strings pitiably around my nose. No matter how clean my clothes, they’re colorfully re-decorated by noon with splotches of cereal, smears of bananas, a spot of two of cheese dip and a generous helping of runny noses.
By 10 o’clock I long for the baby to fuss, signaling her nap time. I consider pinching her to hurry it up, but, thankfully, catch myself in time. NAP TIME is my new Geritol, because when little-bit gives it up, I can plop the other three in front of cartoons while I … swoon and doze blissfully too.
When day is done, I shuffle instead of walking briskly as I did at breakfast time. I have to be extra careful with bedtime rituals. Is that really toothpaste I’m squishing onto the little toothbrush? Yikes!! It says “K-Y” on the tube!! The toddler seems to find this substance that’s coating her mouth interesting instead of awful so I relax a little. Maybe it’ll retard cavities, who knows? Mankind may thank me one day.
But even as I fall into bed at 8 p.m. I get little relief. My dreams are wildly populated by little kids gleefully doing such things as: holding down the water thingie on the frig door and cackling while getting a very cold bath (we old people forgot to lock it again), pushing lamps off tables with pummeling little feet while supposedly sleeping on pa-pa’s bed, or finger-painting with you-know-what. E-gads! I need to wake up!! Never mind, I was awake the whole time.
Why then do I look so forward to these little humans coming to see me?! I have no scholarly answer for that; I just know I love those sweet little faces lighting up when they see me as they run through the door. I adore tiny voices shouting “Granmama, we’ve come to see you!!!” And together we cherish these fleeting moments of childhood.