From My WindowIssue Date: September 20, 2018
By Jane Thibodeau Martin,
We made a very quick trip to Oklahoma last week so while we were there, I was able to babysit my toddler granddaughter for two days. I hadn't seen her since July 4th, so it was easy to notice the changes from that time. She's now one and a half, and totally into the toddler stage.
I could watch her "toddle" around all day. The word "toddle" means to walk with short, unsteady steps and that's exactly what it looks like. You could substitute "lurch drunkenly" or "a barely controlled stagger" just as well. We joke that she looks like a darling baby Tyrannosaurus Rex dinosaur " lots of unnecessary side-to-side motion with her arms carried up in front of her to help with her balance.
But toddlers are enthralled with the ability to get around on two legs, and they can be entertained for hours just by locomoting around a house or yard. They are as enchanted with the ability to walk as a teenager is with the ability to drive. Consequently, taking them to new places provides them with novel places to walk which is its own entertainment, and the actual features of the new destination, like a zoo or carnival, are secondary to the excitement of having a new place to toddle.
The other thing that struck me about her was the development of her personal viewpoint. Sometimes, her opinion or viewpoint is different than mine, and in those cases, she now feels quite empowered to signal disagreement. This led to several little tussles. While as the distant grandma I am very reluctant to not give her what she wants, there are some safety or hygiene reasons for me to intervene.
I took her into her backyard to play one morning. She was motoring around, looking at her three chickens, the little garden and watching her dog pursue prey. I got distracted for a moment and when I looked back, she had a big toadstool mushroom squashed in her fist. You have to assume such an item is toxic, so I attempted to take it away. She was displeased.
I persisted, and then checked to make sure she hadn't sampled the taste. Then I planned to wash her hands off, but first I picked up all the rest of the toadstools in the yard and put them in the compost bin. In that brief time, she'd climbed up the steps to her slide and was sitting expectantly at the top for me to "catch" her going down. Since letting her come down on her own to get her hands washed would be easier than trying to tote her down, I walked over to catch her " which is when I noticed her cute little waffle tread sandals were full of dog poop.
Now I didn't want her to slide down and smear up the slide, so the tussle to extract her from the slide platform, which is about five feet high, started. I didn't want to pull her against me and risk smearing up my clothing, since I had no extra with me. She was outraged that I was deviating from her expectation of being allowed to slide down and let me know it in no uncertain terms.
After about ten minutes of careful maneuvering I was able to get her down without spreading the manure. But then I tried to take her shoes off. She resisted with resolve, as I dodged contact with her fouled sandals.
Much like my own daughter was, this little one LOVES her shoes. They represent freedom and fun to her, just like the car keys do to a freshly licensed teen driver. She did NOT want her sandals off, did not see any problem with the manure, and resisted actively.
By this time, a major wash up was necessary. We had potentially toadstool-toxic hands, poo contamination and I suddenly suspected a diaper change was due, as well.
Her normal sunny disposition returned almost immediately, as it always does, and we got cleaned up, footwear sanitized, and returned to the yard relatively soon. But as she went toddling off to start a new adventure I took a couple breaths and reflected on the fact that parenting is a full-time, tiring job. That's why I am always astonished when I read about some woman in her 50's pushing the resources of modern medicine to have a baby at that age. Parenting is hard; and I have fresh empathy and admiration for the countless grandparents in the U.S. who have had to step in and raise their own grandchildren due to unfortunate circumstances of various sad types.
The beauty of a toddler is the entire world is new and interesting to them. They do not need to go to Disneyland to have fun. They have fun anywhere and everywhere. It's easy to entertain them, almost effortless, and that's why they are such good matches for grandparents. Keeping up with her is challenging. Providing her with fun, and love, is not.
You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address: Janiethibmartin@gmail.com.
Recent stories, opinions and photos