Two years ago I became a grandmother, with the birth of Violet Wilson in Murrieta Hot Springs, CA. I had to get my head around this, as did my husband. We’d never ventured into baby territory in this century.
Over the past two years, Violet had visited us here and there, but it wasn’t until this past August that we really felt like grandparents.
It happened in August, when Violet’s mom and dad decided to take an extended vacation and left her with us for six days. Not six hours….six days, cold turkey. We drove them to the airport to catch their flight. Then Violet saw Mom and Dad leaving with their luggage.
She wasn’t happy.
We decided to stop for breakfast at Cracker Barrell, hoping food would get her mind off her folks. Violet cried when she saw a woman with long dark hair. “Mama!” she shouted. Indeed her mother has similar hair and Violet was desperate to find her.
For the next two days, Violet would gather up her stuffed rabbit, blanket and shoes and head toward the garage to “go go,” no doubt hoping we would take her back to where she’d last seen her parents.
Eventually things settled down and there we were, helping Violet eat her food, get dressed and keep her entertained. We hadn’t had a two-year-old around in 30 years. so it was an adventure.
We had forgotten how intense it is caring for a two-year-old who can’t communicate everything. One moment of frustration came at bedtime. “White!” she repeated, pointing to the dresser.
Finally I gave up. “Show me what you want,” I said.
White, I learned, was a baby wipe so she could clean her face. I should have guessed. Violet is a fastidious toddler.
We quickly became acquainted with sippy cups and nap time as Violet became acquainted with her Dad’s old books and stuffed animals, all new to her. I was amazed that she quickly understood the toy telephone on a string—the Fisher Price model with bobbing blue eyes and rotary dial. Kids haven’t used those in well….decades. She was delighted to use my old toy mop and broom and carpet sweeper from the 1950s. Keeping my old stuff finally paid off.
Each time I put Violet to bed, I grabbed books held over from when her dad was a toddler, one in particular, from my own childhood: Dr. Goat. The rhyme took me back to the time my own grandmother would read it to me. Dr. Goat put on his coat and went out to make some calls.
We kids loved the book because of the illustrations and the rhyme about a goat who calls on various animals to cure such bygone ailments as measles and mumps. His remedies include an old-fashioned hot water bottle and a mustard plaster. Dr. Goat, the wisest of all practitioners, knew exactly what to do as he made house calls. Our son Lantz liked the book, and now, Violet, new to all this, had no idea that she was reading history from the mid-century—a time when doctors really made house calls and pulled cures from a black leather bag. Life was simple. No questions about insurance cards or co-pays or privacy notices.
Toward the end of the story, Dr. Goat falls ill with a sore throat. He ties a cloth around his throat—coated with Vicks VapoRub, no doubt. His friends come in, and clean up his house, fix him some chicken soup and allow him a much-deserved rest. It’s still a perfect naptime or bedtime book, and I read it to Violet, just as my grandmother read it to me.
All went fairly well until I lost Violet in the house. I could hear her bumping around, but she wouldn’t answer. I searched upstairs, downstairs, through several rooms. Finally I found the little stinker—giggling and sneaking around the kitchen island. She’s forgotten about Mom and Dad for the time being; hiding from NayNay was hilarious.
At least I think she called me NayNay. I’ll find out for sure next time we visit.