While my son Dan and daughter-in-law Kristin vacationed in Hawaii for 10 days, I served Grandma Duty to my two youngest grandsons, JD (3 years) and Trey (19 months). It was my first time totally in charge of two little ones since my own were that age. Friends said, “Oh, Nancy, it’ll all come back,” meaning all those instincts and parenting skills. “Just like riding a bike,” said another friend. “Some things you never forget.”
I found both were right and wrong! Basic principles of parenting remain the same but the tools and tactics are all new and exciting. And my youngest grandson had RSV shortly after he was born and takes asthma medication to keep symptoms under control. I kept track of our adventures and bloopers in what I call the GrandmaDiaries. Here are a few excerpts:
Ear plugs. How do you get ear plugs to stay in Trey’s ears during bathtime? Kristin showed me how before they left. It looked easy enough. She said we can’t let any water get in his ears because he just had tubes put in. But these little red silicone custom-fit thingie disks just fall out the moment Trey starts wiggling around. After two tries, I gave up. Opted for a quick shallow bath instead.
Too late. Didn’t realize Trey is a fish. Hope I didn’t wreck his ears. I snatched him out of the tub, dried him off and got him ready for bed. Meanwhile, JD entertained himself in the water park formerly known as a bathroom.
How do you get a 19-month-old to sniff nasal corticosteroid spray? Mercy me. They didn’t have nasal sprays for babies when my kids were little. Trey sees the spray coming and turns his grimaced face away. What to do, what to do?
Trey’s nose is a cruddy mess that backs up into his sinuses and ears if he doesn’t get this medicine. Think, Grandma. Think. I reached back into the cobwebbed, rusted-shut drawers of my mind and remembered babies learn from watching other babies. Mimicking was part of the great success behind “Baby Breaths,” the video that shows babies laughing, playing, sleeping and using holding chambers and nebulizers. Babies watched the video and suddenly cooperated with treatments. Would it work with Trey?
JD, Trey and I sat at the table with a bedtime snack. Trey eyed the nasal spray in my right hand and shook his head. I slowly lifted the spray bottle to my nose and pretended to spray it. Then I made a silly face. He laughed. So I did it again each time with a sillier expression and had both boys giggling so hard that Trey never balked when I slipped the nasal spray tip into one of his nostrils and sprayed. He laughed! OMG! Will he do it again? YES! YESSS!
Trey Hates Bubble Gum
Kristin warned that Trey hates taking his bubble-gum-flavored chewable tiny pill. Before she left, I took on the challenge to get the pill into this kid every single night.
But it’s not working. I’d rather give him liquid medicine, but there is none. Kristin said he rejects liquid as bad as pills, but with the pill there’s no mess if he spits it out. What am I to know?
But it’s Day 6 and I found the little stinker has been spitting the pills out behind the kitchen garbage pail. Oh no.
Both boys love snuggling and reading with me on the couch after bathtime. It’s that magical time when JD chatters about the calendar -- yes, he loves knowing the month, day of the week and date and talking about what he’s going to do tomorrow. Trey’s little toes wiggle as JD jabbers and rotates his hands. I read a page and we talk. I think how fast these moments pass. It’s the little things that light up their eyes. My heart swells; these boys are medicine to my spirit. I’m a lucky Grandma. I’m a lucky mom.