The Best of Times, The Sleepiest of Times

When we sent my daughter off to the wilds of north Texas a little over 10 years ago, my wife’s parents played a big role, living an hour or so away from the university.  They did more than their share, then, of hosting and driving and storing boxes, and just generally serving as surrogate parents, and at some point my father-in-law, nearing 80, made an acute observation.

“Does Julie realize we’re old?”

Ah.  The more awake among you already see where I’m going here.

My son-in-law picked me up at the airport on Saturday around 6pm, and left town a bit less than 12 hours later, spending some of that time packing and most of the rest sleeping.  I did some sleeping, too, awakening to find myself a surrogate parent once again.  It was my job, for the next week, to serve as designated relief for my daughter, especially given my grandson’s recent tendency to sleep in short shifts (just a phase; he’s a good sleeper in general).

So I’d stagger out in the morning, all 55 years and six months of me, and my daughter would immediately send me a text message from the nursery, inquiring as to my availability.  I was, as it turned out, available, only needing some coffee and diapers, so my day began this way.  Rinse and repeat.  Seven days.

Once again, I’m tempted to get wordy about how remarkable and unique I find this experience, father and daughter tending to a baby together, but being wordy takes too much energy.  I’m home now, and starting to get my bearings, although that caffeine monkey is still on my back and I hear the wails of my grandson while I dream, wanting to be fed.  It will take a while.

Of course, it was a glorious time to be a grandparent, plenty of hands-on hours with a grinning, drooling, babbling and probably teething boy who makes my heart jump like my first big crush.  I’m just another large human to him, I know, someone with a bottle and (in my case) a beard, but I felt some serious bonding taking place.  He smiled when he saw me, gave me countless raspberries and covered my shirt with baby puke, all signs of True Love, but I know he didn’t miss me when I left.  That will come later, I know.  We’re just setting the table here.

The down side, if you can even call it that, was some major exhaustion, and so my poor father-in-law came to mind, being aware as he always was of the changing nature of relationships.  Kids grow, but so do we.  So do we.

That shoulder where I had rotator cuff repair surgery a few years back?  The one that still occasionally aches and has less than perfect range of motion?  Oh yeah, that one.  That’s the arm I cradle him in, of course, and even now it’s reminding me of its existence.  A few odd neck muscles are also making some noise, and then there’s the sleep thing and the concentration thing, and my weird tendency (I found) to talk to this kid constantly, particularly when we were alone, which was a lot.  I recited every Shel Silverstein and Robert Louis Stevenson and Dr. Seuss and Robert Frost poem I knew, in every accent and voice I could think of, along with pretty much the American Songbook and a few Beatles songs.  I danced for him, made faces for him, mimicked him and tried desperately to get a good “grandpa” to pass his lips, which he found hilarious just before he spit up again.

So it will take a while to establish balance, and maybe reflect on the week that was.  But I miss him already, and already I’m thinking of my next trip.  And pictures?  Got a few.

Baby Seahawk, just in time for Super Sunday.

Hands on, as I say.
All is well.
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After All This

The best NFL team won.  The best NFL team, speculated about endlessly back in the late summer, won.  They won decisively over arguably the best quarterback in NFL history, and possibly the most potent NFL offense in history, an offense that managed 8 points and let’s be fair, barely managed that.

None of this is all that important, except for Seattle fans and maybe NFL fans in general, but the symmetry and peaceful predictions from what feels like long ago are soothing, in a way.  In a way that almost never shows up in sports.

Ah, sports.  Let’s not get on our moral high horse about the metaphors of athletics, or about the waste of time we indulge in to watch and play.  The world suffers, people starve and die, disease is rampant in some parts of the world, and the weather is freaky.

But some things still work, and that one did, and I had a great day, holding my grandson for part of it and thoroughly enjoying the company I was with, average age maybe 40.  Great food, great people, and at the end of the day I was in Football Center, Texas land, and being the sole Seahawk fan (no one else cared all that much who won) it was even more of a pleasure.

And now we move on, save for my determination to buy the Blue-Ray of this game, to remember a team that played damn near perfectly, and an afternoon that was, as it turns out, damn near perfect too.

On to adventures in babysitting.  Now that’s a game.  I will win this one, too.

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Taking Care Of Bixness

I’m heading today from a place where winter has barely bothered to another place, where the tail end of some cold weather lingers in a mild way, and in other words I’m sort of going home.

In other, different words, I am of course going home.

I grew up with accessible grandparents, often living only blocks away, and then for a long time a few hundred miles, a pretty easy if boring drive across the desert from Arizona to California and back again, depending on where you started.  And extended family members, such as they were for such a relatively small family, were always near.

But there is a different life, and I’m used to it.  My children grew up with grandparents and most cousins far away, although at different times close enough to feel similar to my childhood experience.

At any rate, we are where we are, or where I am at the minute, which is not where I’ll stay.  In four hours I’ll be bucked into my familiar 11F seat on Alaska Airlines, heading for the state capitol of Texas, where I shall hang with a little human who has absolutely no idea how important I am.

I most certainly am, and I come prepared with reminders.  “Don’t back talk me, young man.  I changed your diapers.  Oh, wait.  What, again?  What could you possibly be eating?  OHMYGOD.”  It’s hard to fully realize grandparenthood at this young age.  I project a little.

But looking forward to the trip, and to watching the Super Bowl with a baby Seahawk in my arms, and to just hanging out in my home away from home.  I know the streets, I know the landscape, I know my limits, and they are Austin City ones.  This is gonna be a quick one but fun.  More from Texas.

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