10 Lessons I Learned From My Grandson
Updated: Jan 31
Last weekend, my husband and I enjoyed our first overnight babysitting experience with our 2-1/2 year old grandson, Oliver. After hearing all about my brother’s experiences with their own grandchildren, I knew I would be lacking in the stamina department. But I was willing to take on the challenge to enjoy our sweet little guy, and give the kids time to go and play.
The kids were planning to leave long before their son awoke the next morning, so I was a little worried that Ollie would wake up wanting his mom and dad. What if he started crying for them and wouldn’t stop? You know how you worry about those things…
Oliver woke up with a sleepy smile and asked, “Where’s Papa?”
And before I knew it, my lessons for the weekend soon began…
#1 – Poop is Tinky!
After a good morning kiss and hug, he said to me, “Poooooop! Tinky! Shew! Tinky Poop!”
Ok… so the diaper change comes first.
I think the last time I changed a diaper was about 25 years ago. Lucky for me, our smart little guy knew exactly how it was done. I pulled off his pajama bottoms and undid the diaper to take a peek.
Yes, indeed there was a big, tinky poop inside. “Yikes! Now what,” I wondered, thinking I just opened Pandora’s Box. I looked around frantically for all the diaper changing stuff when Ollie grabbed the bag of wipes and handed them to me.
I yanked out a healthy handful as Ollie lifted his butt off the bed so I could get that tinky poop and diaper out of there. The next step was figuring out how to get the new diaper on.
As I am trying to decipher where the tapes are on the sides, I thought to myself, I should have grabbed my glasses. I never had to have glasses before, so why is it when I’m dealing with tinky poop, I can’t see a damn thing?
I hoped he wasn’t planning the quick escape like his father used to at this point of the diaper change, so when the opportunity presented itself, I swiftly shoved the diaper underneath, folded the front into place, and felt for the tape on the both sides.
Hmmm… No tape.
“Where the hell is the tape?!” I thought, fumbling with the diaper's edges and cursing my eyesight once again. Then I see the word “BACK” written in bold, blue letters across the waistband, lying across Ollie’s bellybutton.
“Shoot!' I said. "Grandma got the diaper on backwards.”
“Backwards!” Ollie repeated, wondering why I was taking the diaper back off.
Finally succeeding at at the first diaper change, we picked out some clothes, and continued on with our day.
#2 – Driving is Fun!
After breakfast, we decided to go outside. It was a beautiful day, so I wanted to take advantage of it. We roamed around for a bit checking out the yard, then headed around the side of the house where Ollie spotted Great Grandma’s golf cart. We brought it home the day before to fix it. Evidently, it keeps fouling out sparkplugs.
“Ride! Ride!” Ollie said, picking up speed to reach the bright yellow cart. How he knew what a golf cart was I had no idea, but going for a ride sounded like a good idea to me.
Ollie climbed in and said, “Drive! Drive!”
At this point, I’m wondering if all grandparents do everything their grandchild demanded? Of course, I started driving! We drove, and drove, and drove until there was a defined track laid out in the grass.
“Fast! Fast!” Ollie said, so I drove faster.
Then I got the great idea that Ollie should drive. Pulling him up on my lap, I said, “Now you drive.”
Ollie grabbed the steering wheel, I hit the gas, and away we went right toward the biggest tree on the property.
“Watch out for the tree, Ollie,” I laughed. Of course, he didn’t understand so I helped him. “Turn it like this,” I said, guiding his hands to turn the wheel.
Even though he couldn’t quite grasp the concept of turning, he was enjoying himself plenty.
“Fast! Fast!” he said. And then the cart sputtered to a stop.
“What happened?” he said.
“It’s broke,” I said.
I pushed the gas pedal. Nothing. “See? It’s broke. Papa has to fix it.”
“Where’s Papa?” he asked.
The golf cart ride over, we were on the search for Papa. Luckily he wasn’t far, and came to see what happened.
“Yep, it’s broke,” Papa said. “It needs a new spark plug.”
Ollie looked at me for verification. “It’s broke,” I said, shrugging my shoulders.
#3 – All apples are meant to be picked!
“Come on. Let’s go this way.” I said, needing to find another diversion. “Let’s look at the apples.”
We walked over to the apple trees in our yard and I showed Ollie all of the ripening fruit loaded on the branches. They were just about sweet enough to harvest.
Ollie obliged me by looking at the tree, and then he saw all the apples. You should’ve seen the look of awe on his face, like “WOW! That’s where they come from!”
“Apple!” he said. Excited, he reached out and grabbed the only one that hung down to his level. At first, he couldn’t get it off the tree.
“Pull hard,” I told him, and finally the apple came free.
“Apple! Apple!” Ollie told me, holding out his prize.
“Yes, that’s right!” I said, enjoying his excitement. Then he looked back up in the tree and pointed.
“Apple!” he said, reaching out his free hand. “Apple!” he told me again.
Not able to lift him, we got Papa in on the action, and after a few more apples were picked, we needed another diversion. This 2-1/2 year old is heavy!
#4 – Unlearning is sometimes hard to figure out.
We took a little ride over to see Great Grandma. Outside in her backyard, Ollie kept himself busy picking stones out of Grandma’s rock border around the deck. Then he noticed that Great Grandma had rock borders everywhere!
This grandma chased after the little rock collector for some time and all was great until he came upon a big, fuzzy caterpillar.
“Ewwww, yuck!” he said, and those little Batman shoes headed into the rock pile to stomp that big, yucky caterpillar.
“Oh, no! Please don’t hurt him,” his Great Grandma said. “Look how nice he is.” Grandma let the yellow caterpillar crawl up on her hand. “See? He’s nice.”
Ollie reached out and touched it. “Ewww,” he shuttered, wiping his fingers onto his pants. “Yuck!”
When Great Grandma put the caterpillar back on the rocks, Ollie picked a rock up and threw it at the yucky bug.
“Oh, no! Don’t kill him,” Great Grandma said, scooping up the caterpillar. “Let’s put him over here so he can take a nap,” she said, moving the bug safely over the fence and out of Ollie’s reach.
Time to go…
#5 – Naps and bedtime are bad.
We drove back home, and had a little lunch. Then we settled down with a movie so Ollie could work his way towards naptime. The first half of the movie worked pretty good and he started looking sleepy. Suddenly, he was on the move again.
Off the couch he went. He started pushing his wagon around the house. When that wasn’t enough fun, he decided to get ALL of the plastic animals out of the drawer and fling them around the living room.
“Ollie, please don’t throw the toys,” I said. “Do you want to help Grandma with this puzzle?” I asked, hoping to divert him once again.
“NO!” he shouted, whipping a cow in my direction, then he took off for the wagon and started chasing the dogs with a look of road rage written across his normally, sweet face. Spotting a cat, he went crazy.
It was like someone hit the nitrous-oxide button, and the wagon shot across the living room floor after poor Dexter who was diving toward the opening behind the couch.
“CAT! CAT!” Ollie shouted. Thwarted by the lack of space behind the couch, you could see the wheels turning as he looked around the living room for something to help him get that cat.
Loading his arms with balls, blocks, and other missile type objects, Ollie went behind the couch and started rifling toys into the hole that Dexter escaped into. When that didn’t draw the cat out, he started flinging toys over the front of the couch so they would fall down behind.
Out of missiles, Ollie looked at me and shrugged, “Cat?”
“He’s gone,” I said, hoping that would be enough to make him stop, but I’ll be damned if that cat didn’t poke his head out and meow!
“CAT!” Ollie said as Dexter sprinted to one of the spare bedrooms and dove under a bed. Grabbing the wagon, Ollie tore after the cat like hell on wheels, yelling, “CAT! CAT! CAT!” as he ran.
It was time.
I knew at this point he was WAAAYYY too wound up. Needing to settle down, I pick him up.
Have you ever picked up a 2-year-old that didn’t want to be picked up? It's quite like hanging onto a fish. They are slippery, and flip around in your hands so quick that they are almost impossible to hang on to.
“Why don’t you sit down here with Grandma and finish your movie,” I said, easing down on the couch with the wiggly fish. As soon as I released my grip on the little guy so I wouldn't drop him, he escaped.
“NO!” he shouted, finding another toy to rifle in my direction. Then he took off after the dogs with the wagon again, looking intent to run them down.
“Okay, I think it’s time for a nap,” I said, snagging him before he could steam roller one of the animals.
“NOOOOOOO!” he yelled, kicking and screaming.
I got him into the porta-crib, and my sweet grandson disappeared. “NO!” he cried, picking up every toy out of the bed and flinging it at me.
“Awww, settle down honey,” I said.
“NOOOO!” he cried more, looking desperately for more items to throw.
As I backed out of the room to let him have his fit, the wail of despair just about blew my eardrums out. The neighbors would surely think someone was being tortured.
Ollie threw himself down into the bottom of his crib and had a complete meltdown just as I pulled the door shut. It was unnerving to witness when the kids had to deal with it, but I was his Grandma and it was breaking my heart.
After a few minutes, I texted the kids, “How long does he scream?”
The response, “Give him 5-10 minutes, then go give him all the stuff he threw out of his crib. He will settle right down.”
I don’t know if I didn’t wait long enough, or what, but when I went back into the room and Ollie thought he was saved from the dreadful nap torture only to watch me give all his toys back and leave... you would have thought I had just stabbed someone in the eye with a hot poker.
The squall of despair would have made your blood curdle, and as I sat there listening to the wailing, my own eyes watered up with regret. In that moment, I made the executive decision that could have wound up making consequences worse, so I decided I just wouldn't tell the kids.
I saved Ollie from his nap.
We just had to keep him awake until bedtime.
#6 – You’re never too old to run and play.
Ollie settled down after his big cry and watched the rest of his movie, but afterward I could see the ‘I Need a Nap’ face and needed to find another diversion, stat! We were at the point of no return for naptime, so what better way to wake up a 2-year-old than to go outside and play?
“Come on, Ollie,” I said, grabbing his hand, running after a volleyball. “Kick it!”
Ollie would kick the ball and laugh, waiting for me to go get it. I would run after it and kick it again, and he thought that was so funny watching Grandma chase that ball.
“Run, Ollie! Get the ball!” I said, laughing with him as we ran after it again and again.
I know, it probably wasn’t the best idea tiring out the little tike when he already had the “I Need a Nap” face, but I thought it best he ran outside rather than trying to steam roller my cat with his wagon. Besides, the grass was soft if he took a spill.
After a good long while running and playing with Ollie, I decided that it felt pretty good to play like a little kid again.
#7 – Courage can be found in pairs.
As we neared the motion-sensor sprinkler system, Ollie halted to a stop. He remembered sprinklers were scary because they come on suddenly, and hosed you in the face with ice-cold water.
“Prinkler!” Ollie said, pointing at the dark sentinel guarding my yard from pooping geese.
Ollie took hold of my hand. Yes, that’s the sprinkler,” I said, trying to leading him away, but his eyes were riveted to it, and he wouldn't budge an inch.
“Do you want to go see it?” I asked.
“See it!” he said, his hand tightened its hold on mine as we inched closer and closer.
“Are you ready?” I said, “It’s going to get us!” I squealed, pulling him along.
The sprinkler blasted us with two passes of ice water before shutting off. I took the brunt of it so Ollie could be spared, and because he wasn’t crying I asked, “Do you want to do it again?”
“Again!” he said. “Prinkler!” Pointing at it, together we inched a little closer.
Once again, I warned him. “Are you ready? It’s coming…”
His little hand tightened around mine even more, but he didn’t pull away. It was almost like he was trying to conquer his fear. After 5 times of Grandma getting sprayed in the face, I hope he did.
#8 – The Happy song can turn any frown upside down.
That night I was able to get Ollie down somewhat peacefully for the night. He didn’t want to go to bed, but even he knew he was tired.
Figuring he would be sleeping in for sure on Sunday, I was very surprised when I heard him at 7:00am.
This morning he wondered where his mom and dad were.
“Oh man… here we go,” I thought. I just hoped he wouldn’t have an inconsolable fit like he did with naptime the day before.
I acted nonchalant, like he already knew… “Yep,” I said, “Mom and Dad are coming home today!” I told him, acting all excited so he would be too. That seemed okay to him, so we got on with the tinky poop detail, and continued with our day. The only problem being Grandma was running out of steam… and he knew it!
How do they know?
The grumpy face appeared at breakfast, but I wasn’t going to let his first visit at Grandma’s end up in disappointment.
“Awww…” I said, “Do you want to hear the Happy Song?” I asked.
Though he had a strange look on his face like he either didn’t know what I meant, or he did and wondered how I knew, I asked my Alexa to play the “Happy” song.
I reached the console and cranked up the volume as “Happy” by by Pharrell Williams played and I danced around like nobody was watching.
At this point, the look on Ollie’s face was one of complete amusement. Yes, I probably looked ridiculous, but he couldn’t tell anyone about it, so why not if it made him happy? I was pushing it big time, and my energy level was approaching the negative levels, but it was worth it to see the look on Ollie’s face.
“I like it!” he said, smiling one of the biggest smiles I had seen so far. Bouncing his head up and down in unison with mine, we jiggled to the beat of the music. When it was all over, I could have melted into the floor, exhausted. Instead, I clapped my hands and watched as Ollie did the same.
“That was fun, huh?” I said.
“Fun!” he replied.
"Just a little bit longer," I reminded myself...
#9 – Dog toys aren’t just for dogs.
I recall the old Bill Cosby stand-up act when he talks about his kids. At the point the youngest child wanted something that belonged to one of the older kids, Cosby said, “Parents are not interested in justice, they want QUIET!”
Cosby was right, and holy moly, I never thought it would come between a child and a dog, but it did!
The dogs were barking, and Ollie was screaming and crying. All of the dog’s toys, OBVIOUSLY, belonged to Ollie, and the diversion tactics were not working anymore. All I could think was, “What do we do now?”
The dogs were not giving up their toys, and even though Ollie wasn’t hollering, “MINE! MINE! MINE!” as the Cosby children did, we still needed QUIET!
Scooping up all the dog toys, I got them out of sight, and put Ollie’s favorite movie on, cranking up the volume.
#10 – You can never watch too much Moana.
Disney’s, “Moana” sounded through our television soundbar, and yes... I cranked it!
The screaming stopped instantly, and little feet padded across the floor to stand in front of the television.
It was like a beacon of hope after a morning of grumpiness. I know it was probably wrong of me to allow Ollie to skip his nap the day before, and that was most likely the cause of all the consternation on this day, but it was what it was.
Moana created happiness for Ollie, and I was fine with it! But it reminded me of all those people spouting off about the lack of parent involvement in their children’s lives at the time my own kids were sitting in front of the television. An electronic babysitter of sorts.
So be it…
When Moana was done, I plugged in Finding Nemo and wondered when the kids would be home.
Grandma was tired!
In the end, I enjoyed my time with my beautiful, wonderful, super smart, loveable grandson. He is a joy, full of wonder, and as clever as can be… And I hope the next time he visits, I can last a little longer.
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