A classic G. George Ostrom column from Feb. 1, 1990
Iris and I took care of our two-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter this weekend, Friday through Tuesday. It was the first time we’ve been in charge of such a small person for that long since about 1966. How soon you forget.
Friday night Tana decided she would not go to bed at 8 o’clock … or 9 … or any other time. We were brushing our teeth at some ungodly hours. She was standing near the counter while I bent over the sink. Suddenly I felt my knee being pinched. “What is it Tana?” Her answer was plaintive, “Where do I ‘sposed to spit?”
Iris doesn’t care how long she gets to sleep, just so it’s eight hours. Tana awoke at 6 a.m. so I volunteered to go in her room and demonstrate to her how wonderful it is to sleep in on Saturday morning. I laid down on a single bed next to her crib and shut my eyes. There was the sound of someone climbing out of a crib, the soft pad of little feet, the rustle of a blanket being dragged across the room, then a little finger jammed in grandpa’s ear.
For breakfast we cooked up some Zoom cereal. Tana looked over and said she didn’t like that kind of stuff so I gave her toast and an egg. She ate that and I ate the Zoom. As I was about to take the last bite, she said she wanted to try some. Decided that was really good stuff and she wanted more so we cooked more. She ate a few spoonfuls and then gave some to a guy in the newspaper. She told me that man never had Zoom before and he really liked it too.
I rediscovered the fact that if given their choice between watching TV cartoons or having a book read to them, small children will take the book every time. They especially like to have Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs read to them during the Super Bowl. I learned that independent little girls prefer to crack their own roasted peanuts by biting them, and they put the shells down in the back of grandpa’s easy chair. They prefer to butter bread sticks using their entire hand in place of a knife. If you show either joy or displeasure with something they’ve done, they offer you a hug … whether their hand is full of butter or not.
Tana’s parents arrived home a day late because they got snowed in at Grand Targhee Ski Resort in Idaho, but I didn’t care. I sort of like the mystery of wondering where my shaving brush might have gone and why someone had put the cover from my computer in a file drawer. It broke the routine to find the final remains of a once healthy cookie in my dictionary under the Js.
I sat down Thursday night, after Tana had gone home. The house seemed extra quiet … empty. It was a situation which would require serious mental adjustment. I was at first warmed…then slowly amazed by remembering “Iris and I raised four kids … like Tana. It wasn’t a mere four days of Zoom on the newspaper. It took 23 years … and tons of love.”
Thanks for the reminder Tana.