Done In by Twenty-Three Months

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We picked her up Friday, late afternoon. Belted her in, with large bag and gate in trunk, we headed back to our nest. After slaving most of the morning on a delicious home made mac and cheese, she took one bite and pronounced a distinct no.

I ate mine in a daze. What to feed this child? Okay, bread and cheese. Some applesauce made it down the gullet. Since I like cooking and not making tidy, she soon found all the untidy bits that were perilous. Scrambling, I found high places to stash the dangers. Picking up, putting down, again and again. Changing and chasing, up and down. Gates falling, crying, laughing, fussy, mad. No, Grama, up Grama, downstairs Grama … garble, garble Grama. Cat growl, cat meow, cat running away. Oh and dog too, to feed and tell to sit, back off and step on, fall over. Cripes … no profanity, sushhhh … giggle at everything. Oh, I feel old!

Milk to drink before bed, oh sweet chair to sit. Jammies, diaper, story, singing, calming down. In bed, asleep at eight. Time to watch Terminator—kill me now, please. Will she sleep the night? Monitor the sounds, the swishing machine is on. Ten-thirty, a squack, a cry … I am all snuggled in. Get up? No. She clicks the swisher and there is baby quiet. No sound till, 4:30. Yes, fitful sleep I had, listening to device that broadcasts a blanket slide. (Back in the day, this was so not necessary.) A whimper, a protest, a moaning, whining cry. Get up, yikes, I gotta pee. Listening … all is quiet again. Ahhh … yipee. Back to sleep, sure. Six-thirty, Frank slips out of bed to get coffee and leave. Very quietly. Oops, hark, she talks, Grama? Grama are you there? Grama come? Oh well, the day begins. Change very large load of Smelly! Gooey! Poop! That was fun.

Now, up and feeling pretty good. What to eat, or what will she eat? Cereal, milk, encore Grama. Okay, more until all gets shoved away. Offer yogurt, toast—no, no! Finding crayons and paper … time for mine. Coffee, toast, yogurt to down. Do not forget old lady supplements—hoping they will kick in at some point and enable the enfeebled. Deluded dream of woman pushing hard at sixty. I usually just go by the seat of my pants. This needs a different approach. Get her busy and then get her tired. That’s the ticket. Fill the basin in the sink with just warm, soapy water—add plastic items, glasses, ladles, cups and spoons. This is toddler heaven. Doing what she calls—vashing deeches. My big idea to add used coffee grounds to the water. Sweet delight—the feeling of dark bits. Fingers and hands are prunes.

Change plan … whisper in ear. Let’s go for a walk. Eyes bright, diaper changed down the stairs. The dog is doing his—oh yeah, oh yeah—going out dance, all over the place … ha, ha, ha, ha, … tongue lolling. Snowsuit, boots, mittens, hat, and scarf. Now she is getting hot, clawing at the door. Me, boots, coat, hat, gloves, scarf (it is cold out there) and camera, we get out the door with dog on leash—pulling hard. I let him go before he pulls me down, lift and carry the bundled one down the outside stairs. The dog is leaping and bounding all over … eating snow. Hannah and I, hand in hand, head down the driveway. I’m thinking, how far should we walk. No, I do not have the stroller or the sled. I am in way over my head. The dog is hurling himself down the road. Car in distance slows, I call, he comes and sits. Grab up his leash again. Dog in one hand and Hannah in the other we set out. Stopping, here and there. Blue jays chiding me, in the distance. I am insane to try this, am I not? We do need the air, the exercise, the fun.. we march on. Uh oh, a dog and his owner are off in the distance. Finnagin is frantic to make a new friend. Hannah sits in snow bank and I hold dog with both arms, shouting … sit, sit, sit, darn dog. He sits; we wait until stranger dog vanishes off. Good. Continue the trek to the lake. Snow is crunchy; lumps in the road attract small boots to crush. Answers the cheeky birds … tweeeet, tweet … burdie!

Down another hill, slowly, lifting up to see the lake. See, see, see, yes … the lake is frozen, all covered in ice and snow. In the summer, all the snow is gone and you and I will go swimming in the lake and see some fish and play in the sand. Nods. Time to turn around. No way she will go back up the hill. Scoop her up and the three of us, this time, I tell Finn to pull me. Ahhh … plod, plod, plod, … to the top.

The way home is punctuated by long pauses and just staring. “Come on, come on, time to have some lunch and I hear Bunny calling you.” Crumples to the road.

Utters with a smile, “going doh, doh,” Yeah right … that’s what did in the Donners.

Scooping up … carrying … and holding dog. Puff, phant okay, now you are going to walk. Nope, more crumpling. Humm. “I hear bunny calling for you.” Up she gets, and me holding bunched up snowsuit at the back of her shoulders … we part walk, part puppet along the road. The homestretch hill. Scoop up again and lumber up to the driveway. My plan – have her help me make lunch (thinking she will eat what she makes) eat, have milk and get her down for afternoon nap at 1:00.

Exacution: Keen to help, mad at me for not allowing her too close to the stove while the eggs get scrambled. She takes three mouth fulls and that is all. I fake her out with a bread chaser. Most is eaten.

Next on list.. change, milk and nap. Goes smoothly without too many false starts. Ahh … blessed quiet, time for ME to take a nap bearing in mind, I must get up at three and put frozen chicken in the oven so it’s ready for dinner at sox. I have already done taters, carrots and onions that will cook with. Please Mr. Sandman, let me sleep for just an hour.

Someone is coming in the door and I am nude in bed. Yikes. “WHO IS IT?”

“It’s us,” Jaime says.

I call back. “Give me a minute; I was trying to take a nap.”

Hurl the clothes back on. Bernie is perched in front of the upstairs TV watching HOCKEY! Jaime wants a shower. I have to de-glog the drain first … ewww … so that’s all my hair … sheesh.

Put the bird in. Oh they want tea and a snack. My “mom is a slave” personna takes over and I putter and do. Make everyone happy … ya, ya, that’s me. Frank comes home and he makes me a rum and coke. Yum.

Hannah wakes up at about 3:45 and they take over. I still have this meal to serve, clean up after. Table set, dishes warming, all the taters and veges in bowls, stuffing too. Cut up chicken, plate, and sit down. The males are finished and staring at the empty plate before I can add the gravy. Laughter and talk. I recount the night and day. They are relieved she was such an excellent child. I think they will let her come back. I did an adequate job of filling in for them.

They all leave before seven. I stagger to my lazy-boy. I am immobile. Then when I have to make a pit stop, I discover my body will not unbend from the sitting position. Ibuprofen is called for. I know this is the beginning of many aches and lots of joint pain. I am a great martyr. Lights out at ten all snuggled in. I wake a few times, still conscious of that deep down used up feeling that only comes if you have been on a five day bender. How could such a tiny little person do this to me?

Realization: I need to get into better shape if I plan on having her here again. The next time, she could very well kill me.


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