Last Wednesday was a normal day. I was minding my grandson Ricky. At 18 months of age, you can’t take your eyes off him for a second. He is great fun and constantly on the go.
Our house is gradually becoming child proofed. All glassware and pottery have been put up high. Coffee tables are cleared. A corner one has a stack of Ricky’s books on it. Two low-down presses that housed drink and old videos have been cleared out and replaced with two plastic boxes of toys that Ricky can access. Two more presses and four small drawers contain his current clothes.
Already, 0- to 3-month, 3- to 9-month and 9- to 12-month clothes have been bagged and stored away. There’s a pile of 12- to 18-month stuff ready to go.
It is phenomenal how much a little person needs to keep clothed, fed and found. Our living room scene has changed. The playpen is in one corner with a few soft toys and other bits and pieces. It served a purpose for a while to grab a few minutes to put on a washing or take something out of the oven.
Having reared three boys, I’m wise to the antics and know to expect daily surprises
Now Ricky goes in himself and plays for 10 or 15 minutes. It’s his quiet time to get away from the adults. His green ride on tractor is parked by the couch and his high chair is by the table. Numerous vehicles are parked in a row by the window. There’s no denying that a little boy lives here! Having reared three boys, I’m wise to the antics and know to expect daily surprises. The ability to soak up information and learn about the world is amazing and we adults have the responsibility to be constantly feeding and filtering that material.
Yet, I ask myself if we instinctively do too much of it. Ricky is obsessed with cows and vehicles. That didn’t happen by accident. Most days he gets to bring in the cows with Tim or go on some other farming adventure. The other day, a helicopter was checking the power lines. It came so close to the house that I could see the people inside. I grabbed up Ricky and ran outside. He wasn’t too impressed.
If he thinks it might happen, you feel the little hand gripping yours just to let you know he’s ready
Then when the silage vehicles rolled in; he couldn’t leave the window. At the moment all he wants to do is go outside. Whenever anyone is heading to the backdoor Ricky is hot on their heels. If he thinks it might happen, you feel the little hand gripping yours just to let you know he’s ready. Then comes the let-down. “Ricky, I’m going to work. You must stay here. You can come later.”
“Later” is just not a word an 18-month-old understands, and so he cries bitterly as if the world has ended. A few minutes later he has forgotten and we get on with housework.
We were putting on a wash which he enjoys. He went out the back hall and I could hear his little feet pattering along. Then I thought I heard the squeak of the back door handle. I stole around the corner and watched. He was up on his toes like a ballet dancer, the tips of his fingers could barely reach the handle and yet he knew to propel the handle downward. The door opened a little. He held on and let out a satisfied “ha!” just like his dad, Dave, would when he’d sort something!
It was as if he stored the information for when he needed to get away!
I thought he’d run out the door. Instead he closed the door and did the whole process again with another “ha” of satisfaction. It was as if he stored the information for when he needed to get away! Luckily Granny was watching too and I processed wildly what this meant. We had been talking about replacing the back door for a while and now it is a matter of urgency. I thought I’d have at least another year!
I guess, Ricky had watched that back door close on him once too often. I relayed the news to his parents, Julie and Dave. Julie cringed, saying “Not the back door!” Dave laughed. Meanwhile, my husband Tim has been to the co-op for the chain-link fence materials to fence around the back lawn just as we did 30 years ago for our own crew. There’s a real sense of dejà vu and it is a privilege to get to do it all over again.