To be honest I was anxious last weekend when my wife told me she wanted to look after her bedridden father and help out her sister who was expecting her first grandchild to be born soon. The plan involved me looking after Grace and Andrew for 3 afternoons. In the mornings their mother would prepare their porridge and bath them. I said to my wife and daughter, no problem, I can handle them, although both can gang up on me and bully poor grandpa. It would be challenging but why not?
Monday after lunch as my daughter drove away I quietly pondered how would I pass the next 5 to 6 hours unscathed. I was taught how to prepare their milk, where the powder and bottles were, when to feed them, when to put them to sleep and when to bath them and feed them porridge. Sounds easy. But I won't be dealing with regular obedient kids. Grace is past 4 but still want to behave like her little brother at just under 2 and hyperactive. Attention seeking and security deprived so I try to accommodate, to an extent. I was a little apprehensive if I could manage them, especially Andrew who require second to second supervision as he now grab anything within reach, open any cabinet he likes, play with utensils, sometimes roughly, rough ride his kiddy tricycle like a pro round and round the dining table. And when he gets bored and refuses to sleep I would be his manservant, being dragged to the front door and made to open it because he want to 'out, out' and when I explained it was hot and dusty (neighbor contractor still renovating the house) there he goes on the floor screaming hs protests. Or he would want his particular tv show - Mr Bean cartoon or Thomas and Friends. If that clash with what Grace wants to watch or my timed recording, another tantrum loomed. Fortunately we have a second tv set in the dining hall to pacify both of them.
When bored with tv I tried block games or puzzles but they find them overly familiar. Ah ha, they spotted my iPad or smartphone and Andrew would go 'a nee bird, a nee bird' which translate 'I want Angry Bird'. Sensing sibling rivalry over a gadget and my fear it could be mishandled I refused and another round of screaming confronted me. Throughout these encounters just remember I was always on the move, not only vertically but also squatting, bending and at times on fours. For a person my age it was a miracle I survived the first afternoon which ended with an enjoyable 'outing' in the gated compound and bath time. They love the water, especially the boy. The instance I announce it is time to bath, Andrew stripped naked in no time and waited for the shower to wet his slim body. Bathing both kids together is like juggling but having both liking this part of the day made the job easier although I was soaked wet too.
The bit that I dislike most is feeding them porridge and that part is also most physically strenuous. Grace still wanted spoon fed although she can easily feed herself. Attention seeking and demanding equal treatment as her little brother. Maybe grandma spoilt her or she is just her demanding self. She eats slow, real slow, perhaps 3 times slower than her brother because she can't swallow big mouthfuls. Andrew eat fast but also move faster - on his tricycle and I would be chasing him all over the house, from hall to dining to kitchen to hall. Phew! And sweaty. So it was an achievement when porridge is fed and my roster ended on day one. Survived but not looking forward to be a permanent house grandpa. Such job is meant for someone younger and more agile to handle active kids.
Day two was a little easier having learned from day one. But putting them to nap is another challenge. While Grace was better in this department Andrew just couldn't find a spot to really shut down. While I rested with the girl, she insisted I sleep next to her, Andrew roamed the house. Every other minute I'd call out or get out to check if he was naughty or endangering himself. He was curiously imaginative, playful and rough. He'd put stuffs into his mouth, play with toilet water, strip off his diapers and parade himself naked (the afternoons were quite warm) or bang his toys on the floor and table. I shudder at the thought of scratches on them, and worst, if he accidentally struck the glass door panes or tv screen. Fortunately he was reasonably well behaved. He did manage to nap, after his porridge.
Day three was supposed to have grandma return in the afternoon but plan changed so it was me and Grace and a kid named Andrew all over again. Actually it wasn't all bad except being the only adult around everything falls upon him, so I really understand the pressure my wife had all these past 6 years looking after grandchildren one after another, while attending to many other chores. I really salute her capability and endurance, and great love and sacrifice for the children.
Finally the day arrived for us to fetch grandma from the train station. That morning I took them for a drive. Andrew still need his car seat, strapped in, as he cannot sit still otherwise. The drive was to prepare them for another drive later in the morning to the train station. Back home I bathed them at 10 and fed them porridge and soon the phone rang. Grandma would arrive in 20 minutes! The kids were excited. I made their milk. Grace sat up front next to me, Andrew strapped down in the back. I passed him his bottle, not sure if he'd drink or play or drop it to the floor. As I drove out of the driveway I shifted the rear mirror on Andrew. He was quiet and surveyed the view outside. Then he lifted the bottle to his mouth and I quietly smiled. The drive would be OK, I told myself. Grace held to her bottle and told me she'd drink on the drive home.
At the station all three of us were excited and happy to have grandma back after 3 days away, her longest absence. We're sure she missed home too.