Grandmas, Daycares, and Nursing Homes

Growing up I was addicted to my grandma. For some reason we had a special bond when I was little. Maybe it was because I was the youngest, or maybe I just spent the most time with her, but I had a way of getting her to laugh, smirk, and end her sentence with: “Oh, Tami.” Usually because I was doing something that she would have thought girls should not do or talk about, and yet I had to be different and try to do what I could to “shock her.” I was a good girl, yes, but she was easy to shock.

While in some ways my sister and I had the strangest relationship with my grandma (she was not always there for us in ways she should have been) but she also was sometimes there in ways we would not have expected. Part of it was her upbringing, part of it was that I do not think she knew how to handle us. Since my mom died when we were quite young, my grandma was our stand in. That does not mean she became mother/grandma, it just means she is the only maternal family figure we had left. Which meant she handled us in the way she knew, and the way she was comfortable with — which mostly meant let us figure it out for ourselves. Maybe that is why I am this way — “I will do it on my own, in my way, and do not get in my way.” I did not have much choice.

I am trying to remember how often I saw little kiddos around my grandma. I think she might have cooed a bit when she saw them. I think she smiled and warmed up a bit, but I’m not sure she got goose bumps and maternal around them. So when I saw this viral article about “What Happens When You Put a Daycare in a Nursing Home? Magic” I thought, “Would that have made her softer, happier? Would she have come out of her shell?” I learned a lot about what I would and would not do from my grandma. It was hard to know where you stood with her. Her expression of love was, well, different. This video brings a smile to my face and tears to my eyes of the possibilities of love that get passed from these little ones in daycare to those in the nursing home and vice versa. It is getting made into a documentary called: “Present Perfect.”

Feeling deeply

Sometimes we feel things deeply. We feel emotions to our core.

I just spent a few days with my niece. I am smitten. The girl is a hoot. She is the happiest baby. Let me tell you I am probably slightly biased, but I have been taking care of kids since I was nine years old. First I babysat. Over time I did summer nannying. Eventually I worked with infants in a day care for my four years in college. And I babysat all the years in between. Oh, and how could I forget that I fell in love along the way. There were many kids. Emma, and Alden, and Chazzy, and Matts. Evan, and Ryan, and Bailey, and Addison. The list goes on, but nothing compares to the absolute love I have for my own sister’s child.

It is like an anchor that goes down deep while on a boat in the middle of the ocean. It is heavy, and raw, and real. It is painful how much I love this little girl. I have big shoes to fill. With my parents gone I feel like her aunt, and her grandma, and hopefully someday her confidante. Chris and I just spent the last few days with her, and said goodbye to her last night. When we came back home and crawled onto the couch to rest and snuggle there was an empty, quiet space surrounding the couch. We both missed her so much.

She is just now ten months old and walking like crazy, babbling, and utterly cute. She walks on her own all over the place, but still loves to hold your hand (I think because then she has a buddy to go with her). She loved the Christmas tree (mostly the balls, but also the lights). She had the best time opening presents and then eating the paper. She finally loves zerberts (thank goodness, as I love to give them)! I tried to teach her how to blow a kiss so that when we Facetime she will start to blow kisses to me. She laughs and giggles, and like I said is the happiest of babies.

My favorite: when she wakes up from her nap and snuggles into your neck and her deep gut giggle. #beyondamazing

I Was a Biter

My mom used to have a day care in our home. Mind you this was the early 1980’s and there were not state regulations for day care centers in your home. For the most part I think everything my mom did was fine. I do remember an area in our house where there were rocks for decoration. I do not know why my parents left the rocks there, you would think that would be crack for the babies she took care of, but it must not have been an issue.

I was the issue. I would go to school and come home to babies sleeping in my room, and lots of kids playing with my toys, AND my mom was not mine. Well, she was my mom, but she was mine to share during day care hours. A recap in case that was not clear to you. I had to share my bedroom (even if I already shared it with my sister), my toys, and my mom. It drove me crazy. So did one of the kids my mom watched.

I wish I could remember her name. What I do remember was two distinct memories of her. She would taunt me and tell me that her boyfriend was Michael Jackson. I was naive enough to believe her. She would tell me that Michael was going to come pick her up at the end of the day, and yes I believed her. Not that I ever was interested in dating Michael Jackson, it was the idea that she knew him, (or I believed she did). The second thing that pushed me over the edge (if sharing so much was already not enough), it was that she had butterscotch disks and she would not share them with me. Now to preface this, we only got treats and candy at my grandma’s house, so if someone brought candy to my house and did not share, well that was too much for me.

As you might have guessed by the title of this blog, I took the problem into my own hands. I bit her. I, the daughter of the day care owner, bit one of the kids. I got into so much trouble, not with my mom, but with my dad. You did not want to get in trouble with my dad. It sucked. Nothing changed after my teeth did their thing. I got into trouble, and well the girl, she kept babbling about Michael Jackson and bringing those butterscotch disks to my house. I had to stay away from her, she made me so mad. In hindsight, I can see now what strength and resilience I had (remember I was sharing my toys, bedroom, and mom – she could not even share a butterscotch disk from her stash). I do think she is the one that turned me into a biter though. I have to say I understand kids that bite a bit more.

The moral of the story. If you are going to have kids and a day care in your home, make sure your kids have a space of their own and a few toys that they do not have to share!