Grandma Duty -- My Other Caregiver Hat

Goldie
I've been away for awhile. Our son and daughter-in-law went on a holiday and asked us to help out with the kids. No worry, they said, we'd have help. Nanna would spend the nights with them and they had a couple of other friends who could give us a break if need be. As Grampa tends to have limited stamina and patience for little ones, I was on caregiver duty again...a different kind of caregiving, but just as tiring!

Here's the journal:

Two days into the holiday:IMG1949

A number of us are taking shifts looking after the children. Mostly, during the day, they've been with me. The conversations remind me of my days in the kindergarten -- everyone talks at once:

"Lucien and I like jelly on our bread, but Opal likes butter. Unless you have cream cheese." "Gamma, will you read me this story right now" "Don't forget to make sure Felix comes in for the night" "I HAD THE FIRE ENGINE FIRST" "Can we watch Curious George tonight?" "When's Mama and Papa gonna call on the computer?" "Is there noodles in the soup? I only like soup if there's noodles in it." "I got more soup all by myself" "Grandma, look what Opal's doing. She's not allowed to do that." "Now will you read me a story?" "I get the first bath!" "No, Lucien, you can't come in. This is my bath. But you can sit here and dabble your toes in the water." "STOP PUTTING YOUR FEET ON ME!" "I wanna go to bed." "Tucktucktucktucktuck me in!" "Read the story about the bear's birthday suit" "And the mermaid" "I not going to sleep there. I not Opal. I'm a birdie. I'm making my nest" "I got you Gamma. I'm not gonna let go and you are gonna have to stay here. I want you to stay here forever."

Two more days to go. I'm so glad John and Coco could get away by themselves. I'll be exhausted by Friday but that's okay. I wouldn't miss this for anything!

"Grandma, I have another story to tell you."

Day three with the grandkids:

Mattheus has a slight fever. Lucien has a higher fever. Opal was beeboppin' around the house with the combined energy of all three.
Time to remember all those Mom things from years ago. How high can a fever go before I need to be concerned? How do I keep the kids quiet and resting? How do I prevent Opal from dancing into Mattheus' carefully placed fire engine with its many small tools? And Mattheus from describing in gory detail what he was going to do if she knocked it over again?

Breathe.

Lucien got up and ate a little at dinner. He's drinking enough. I don't need to worry too much. Mattheus only ate applesauce and Opal cleaned her plate and had seconds. After dinner I saw the noble knight in our 6-year-old Mattheus as he gently made a place for Lucien to lie down on the couch and covered him with the blanket, then went in with Opal to brush teeth and get ready for bed. I was too tired to look for a book so I pulled something out from the dusty files in the brain and told them the story of the little fox who stole the old woman's loaf of bread.

When they settled and their Nanna came to stay for the night, I did dishes and picked up toys. It was nice to be able to do something I was sure of.

Opal's godmother stayed with them most of today! I'll be at the house again early in the morning and will stay until their Mama and Papa arrive home around dinner time. Then I'll be off duty and back to being just Gramma.

Last day:

The kids got back from their holiday last evening and Lucien was gracious enough to greet them and wait a whole five minutes before throwing up.

I was pretty beat last night and didn't do much of anything. Emma made me a grilled cheese sandwich for dinner and afterward, I took a hot bath.

I learned a lot this week:

I can keep three small children busy without turning on the TV.
I can still remember a few kindergarten stories to tell by heart.
I can go long stretches without bathroom breaks.
It's possible to take care of the grandkids for most of four days and not crash afterward.

I also learned that one of the scariest things to hear from an active grandchild, when I'm sitting in a chair, is "Close your eyes Gramma!" I tried to peek out of one eye, but was caught. “CLOSE YOUR EYES, GRAMMA!” I knew what would happen. Any second now she would land on me with her full weight with one arm or one knee on a most sensitive spot on my body. Breasts are not hard to miss and probably looked upon as a soft place to land.

And I learned that I'd do this again anytime. Not the chair thing, but being with the grandkids for an extended time.

Join our mailing list

Sign up to receive our monthly newsletter that includes caregiving tips, news, support and more.