The last blog shared some insights I learned from our adorable little grandsons during a lengthy time of being responsible for them while their parents were enjoying an anniversary trip. The little guys taught me things like we all need our person – our go-to safe haven; it’s good to indulge often in healthy play; self-regulation is an important skill; repetition and structure are great allies; and self-acceptance is a wonderful posture.
During my extended stint as a full-time GrandMarnie, I learned as much about myself as I learned from the little boys.
I saw affirmation of my strength for thinking things through and being prepared. Our time together was easier because I set the stage by little-boy-proofing our knick-knack heavy house. I put a kid-size table and chairs smack dab in the middle of our family room, which was a perfect place for the boys to eat, color, play and land. I bought fresh fruits and veggies and snacks (plus the requisite chicken fingers and hot dogs, I admit) that I knew the boys would eat. Bottom line, I simplified our lives and environment, which erased a lot of potential troubles. Instead of labeling myself (or accepting others’ label) as perfectionistic, rigid or inflexible, I saw that being prepared is a positive.
We hung black-out material over the boys’ bedroom windows, which paid off by coaxing them to sleep until a respectable 7:00 to 7:30 am most days. I read up on drown-proofing and administering CPR to children since we have a pool, and we had oodles of sunscreen and bug spray. I wasn’t nearly as boned up on performing the Heimlich maneuver on a child, but thank the good Lord, some long ago training immediately surfaced and I was successful. (Yes, really – the two-year-old choked and was quickly in serious trouble.)
I learned there is also a time to relax my (perhaps obsessive-compulsive) planning and tidiness. We picked up toys as a game before we left the house or every evening before bed, and I stepped over or ignored them the rest of the time. I learned to identify the options I was OK with and stop being rigid about the one I thought was right. By some unusual wonder, I found a flexible side of myself. I picked my battles and realized many of them weren’t worth fighting. (Did it really matter if Jim wore his pajama pants to the playground? Nope!)
Most important, I discovered yet again the unwavering faithfulness of a loving God. Only by an eternal power could I physically manage two weeks with two very active little boys! As someone who struggles with chronic fatigue syndrome, that’s a miracle. When I asked for help, which was often, God threw open the door to provide. I felt infused with patience and perspective. I stayed positive and laughed a lot. Amazing! Only God!
Happiness, peace, health and even life itself can be fleeting – snatched away in an unpredictable instant. As I continue on a lifelong journey, I am daily more aware of my frailities and of those around me.
During the treasured time I spent with little Jim and Liam, I often felt carried outside myself to a place of pure joy and unmeasured sweetness. Scripture says “a little child will lead them,” and I found I was much more the learner than the guide.
Marnie C. Ferree