Why do I continue to do this? Why do I set myself up for the disappointment by having these grandiose images of what I feel should happen while visiting 3 of our grandchildren? Last Monday I flew to Phoenix to see Jodi, Eric and Caleb-3, Jaden-11 and Noah-1, for the week. I had told Jodi to just pick me up at baggage claim outside instead of coming in. After all, I didn’t want to make all the other grandparents who were in the airport flying to see their grandkids jealous. I already had imagined the 3 and 11 year old, running up to me, throwing their arms around me and fighting over who would get to sit by me in the minivan. Visions of Caleb sitting on my feet, wrapping his precious little arms around my legs, not wanting to let me go was filling my head while walking to baggage claim. I could imagine, Jaden, having learned to be a little gentleman, insisting that he get my suitcase. Yep, these were the visions I had racing through my head, when I texted Jodi to tell her which door I would be coming out. She apologized that she was not parking to come in but that she would explain when she picked me up. After I got in the van, I understood, she didn’t have to say a word.
I went out to the curb and waiting among the smokers which now, made me smell like a giant cigarette factory by the time I climbed into the van. All I could hear was crying. Jodi was trying to talk to me about Noah having a awful cold and possibly an ear infection, all the while wishing I had a hearing aid so I could turn it off. Caleb was in the back car seat beside Noah crying that his tummy hurt. Well, that was only 2 grandkids, I still had Jaden to welcome me and confess his undying love for his grandmother, but where was he? When I was able to turn around, there he was sprawled out over the 3rd back seat covered up with a huge blanket. He peeked out of the blanket and said, “hi Nana”. Yep, that’s the welcome I got, “hi Nana, my stomach hurts and I feel like I’m going to throw up” Realizing that as I looked behind me, snot was running out of the 1 and 3 yr old’s and the 11 year old looked like he was about to throw up. Was this going to be a fun week or what? As we pull out of the airport, I began to ask Caleb some questions about the week ahead of us and what he might want to do if he got well. No response. Jodi explained to me that I had to understand that this week, Caleb announced that he had his own vocabulary and would only be using the words he wanted to use. As he smiled at me, he told me that my name was now Sprinkles and his mom’s name was Cookie and his was Ice Cream. Oh yes, and his dad was not Eric this week, his name was Nuts. He would not answer unless I used his new name. When I asked him a question that I thought I would get “yes” as the answer, that didn’t happen. Anytime he wanted to answer “yes” we would only get, “I don’t see why not” If you didn’t understand what he was telling you or he didn’t like the answer we were giving him, he would announce, “let’s try this one more time”. So now I was having to learn a new vocabulary, but being the perfect grandmother I am, I decided that I could do that. A few minutes down the road, Caleb begins to cry saying that he needed me to climb over the seat and “rub the gas bubbles out of his tummy to make it quite hurting” so here I go, while Jodi is driving down the highway, with my big rear end, trying to climb over into the back. When I get there, I realize that, “where will I sit” there are only 2 seats and both of them have baby seats in them; I go to the third seat, scoot Jaden over so I can reach my arm over to rub Caleb’s “gas bubbles out”. Jaden starts to laugh seeing me do this and announces that he to has gas bubbles and “maybe I should hold my nose because it might get awful smelly in a minute”. Really….did I come to Gilbert to rub gas bubbles out of tummies. All this time, Noah is screaming because 1. he is in the season that he doesn’t like sitting in the car seat 2. his ears are hurting and 3. snot is running down his face. So I get kleenix and wipe his nose with my right hand, rubbing Caleb’s tummy with my left. Jodi looks in the rear view mirror and we both just howl with laughter. “welcome to “Gilbert Mom”. This was just not what I had pictured.
In 4 1/2 short days, we have gone through 8 fast food drive thru’s. I have sat on a potty seat where Caleb is trying to learn to stand up to pee, which tells you what I sat in. I have memorized every character on Micky Mouse Playhouse, I have listened to Caleb sing Twinkle Twinkle Little star over 100 times (and that was all in one day).
On my second day of the visit, we decide we will venture out and take Caleb & Noah to Target. Jodi was needing to get Easter basket stuff, so I told her that I would try to keep precious little Caleb occupied while she went through the $1 bin. Well, the minute we walk in, Caleb declares that he always gets a slushy and popcorn, which I think is so cute. So we walk over to the snack area and he tells me that he orders it all by himself, which again, I think is so cute. He orders, takes the cup the lady gives him and heads over to fill it up. He likes to layer all the different colors of slush, which was 5 layers. We sit down with his popcorn and slushy and I think, now this is what I am talking about. Enjoying the little moments of sweetness, listening to his precious little baby talk and watching him enjoy his snacks. We had been sitting there for almost 30 seconds when he announces that, “I have to go pooh pooh, Nana” . Of course, Jodi is long gone, not to be found anywhere, so I pick up the popcorn, his drink, my drink and purse and we head to the bathroom. Caleb informs me that I need to pick him up and set him on the seat. How do mom’s do this with their arms full? I looked for a halfway clean spot to set down the food and place Caleb on the potty. Of course, there are no potty liners. After a minute in his loudest precious little voice, he announces, “Nana, I have to push the big one out, but my eyeballs might fall out if I push too hard.” I hear laughter coming from the next stall. We finish, wash our hands, pick up our drinks and popcorn and head out to find Jodi. We find her. There she is waiting on the isle by the $1 bins. When Noah see us, he starts waving his little arms and hits her giant Dr Pepper, which we had just gone through McDonalds to get, out of the cup holder onto the floor. We now hear, “clean up on isle 2, clean up on isle 2”. We just look at each other and start to giggling. We look behind us to see that Caleb has retrieved the cookies out of my purse that I had brought with us to bribe him into doing something he might not want to do, only to see cookie crumbs training behind us. We decide we need to leave as soon as we can. This is only day 2. Our dream of getting away from the kids and going to do something just by ourselves is quickly vanishing. By the time day 3 approaches, we have recovered from the dr.’s office, the Target visit and the grocery store.
This week found me sitting in the pediatrician’s office with Noah, yep, double ear infection. Dropping off Jaden at school, picking up Jaden at school, asking him if he had remembered his planner that he is suppose to bring home everyday. When he says , “oops, I forgot” I send him back in the school, pull out of line to park to wait for him. When he comes out, there are so many cars in line behind me we have to wait for about 15 min before we can back out of the parking space. Yes, this week brought back many many memories.
By Friday, the day to return home, all the little incidents that wore us out at the time they were happening, have turned into funny precious memories. Why then, when you are exhausted from getting kids in and out of car seats, sitting in pee on the potty seat, washing at least 50 plastic glasses every day and eating more fast food than you have eaten in a year, do I cry when I have to leave? It’s because no matter the situation, no matter the effort or energy it takes, these are the memories and the people that make life special. They are a way of looking back into the past and remembering our kids, growing up and trying to figure out, “did I learn anything from the first go around”. Sometimes the answer is yes and sometimes it is no, but no matter what, visits will always be special memories in Goofyville. Next stop, Dallas to keep our 8 year old grandson, Sevy for a week, while his parents go out of town. Already my mind is envisioning how Sevy will be so excited when he sees Nana at the airport. STOP IT NANA!!! Slow it down, remember, he is now 8, not 3…I need to prepare myself for “hi Nana, want to take me to Game Stop”? Ah…another precious?? memory..
This summer we will be making the trip to visit our daughter in Orlando where there is a sweet little almost 3 year old feminine girl just waiting to be spoiled. I bet I won’t have to sit in pee or listen for the “big one to drop”, that week. That week there will be tea parties, buying pink dresses and nail painting to be done. There I go again….STOP IT, Nana…..