A dispatch from the trenches
It’s mid-morning early in the week, and I’m sitting on the couch in the living room of son David and daughter-in-law Erin in Adel, listening to almost-3-year-old grandson Colin sing along with a song on a public TV children’s show.
Dave and Erin are on a well-deserved trip, and Kathy and I are on child care duty.
We’re the second shift: Erin’s parents from Omaha took the first half of the eight-day period. Dave and Erin are to be back late Tuesday night. (So as you read this, we’re back in Jefferson.)
You learn a lot at a time like this.
One is the reaffirmation that your grandchildren are adorable and outstanding (as are everyone’s grandchildren). Another is that child care for three kids 10 and under requires above-average organizational skills. Kathy has them; I, not so much.
Another is the reminder that we’re old.
For instance, the day here begins at 6:45 a.m., when it’s time to get the kids up, fed and the 10-year-old and 5-year-old off to the school bus. We know that because Erin left an hour-by-hour set of directions for each day they’re gone, including reminders about individual do’s and don’t’s for each child.
We can navigate the kitchen cupboards and pantry with adequate ease. Ten-year-old Will is a great help, and 5-year-old Norah as well in some regards. We now know whose plate and cup are whose, and they initiate us into the mysteries of their home’s technology as well.
Their parents’ bed is a king-size. That’s a good thing given its population by early morning.
They all seem to enjoy having us around, and that’s a blessing, although now and then they let us know it’s time for Mommy and Daddy to come home.
About that school bus:
We knew that it stops just a short distance from their house in their Adel neighborhood.
I asked Norah where the stop is. Looking out the window to the east, she pointed and said, “It’s not at our corner. It’s at the next corner.”
The weather this morning was bleak: freezing drizzle, with ice on the sidewalks and streets. So I put on my heavy winter coat and my cap, preparing to walk them a block down the sloping icy sidewalk to the next corner, and stepped outside and across the yard with them.
Turns out “the next corner” meant across the street.
“Our corner” is the corner of their lot line, while the next corner is just across the intersection, about 20 yards from their front door. Technically accurate, but not what I thought.
Several other kids were converging on the corner across the street, looking at me quizzically. Will asked, “Why are you going with us?” I turned around and sheepishly re-entered the house.
Will and Norah like school, and Colin soaks up learning at home as well.
All of them love reading, gratifying a retired journalist. Will zooms through books on his own, and Norah is starting to sound out words of the books that she and I read and reread. Colin has a couple dozen story book favorites he loves to hear.
They have a black cat, named De. She is reasonably friendly, as cats go. Somewhat standoffish, but accepting of petting and scratching when she decides she’s ready. She will nip for no apparent reason.
They used to have a very large golden retriever, Ozzie. Ozzie went to that Great Dog Park in the Sky last Thanksgiving night around the age of 11. He was an important part of the family and is missed.
Kathy asked Colin if they’re going to get another dog.
“I have a dog. His name is Ozzie. He’s dead,” Colin said.
“Yes, that’s too bad. We miss him, don’t we?” Kathy said. “Are you going to get another dog?”
“I have a dog. His name is Ozzie. He’s dead,” Colin repeated.
Apparently there’s no replacement on the horizon anytime soon.
Anyway, we’re handling our duties acceptably so far, by all appearances.
The kids are patiently waiting for Mom and Dad to return, and we’ll happily take another turn at this when the occasion arises — at least so long as we can still perform.