Revenge: Nothing sweeter than grandchildren
My oldest daughter, Addi, is just beginning her second year of a two-year radiology technician program. Wanting to make herself marketable, she’s also taking EMT training two nights a week. What does this mean for my husband and me, or Pop and Mia, as we are now called? More time with our grandson, Garett.
I have not yet accepted the impossibility that four of our six children have graduated from high school. As I struggle to grasp that concept, time seems to be passing at an even more alarming rate than ever before. Tuesday night, as Garett and I lay cuddling on his Spider Man sleeping bag, playing with Matchbox cars and singing songs, I could not believe our little buddy is already 2 years old. I also can’t believe I ever had qualms about becoming a grandma at 41; now I realize I just got a head start on playing what has turned out to be my best role yet.
I’ll never forget the day Garett was born.
Addi experienced false labor several times, so when she called in the middle of the night to tell me she thought she was in labor – “for real this time” – I didn’t take her very seriously. It was 2 a.m. I told her to rest and call me back in an hour if she thought things were progressing. She called me back 10 minutes later to say her water had ruptured all over the kitchen floor.
I was fumbling around like the stereotypical first-time father, anxiously and awkwardly trying to dress in the dark. I woke my youngest son, Zane, and asked if he wanted to go with us. He said no, he was too tired and he’d come visit “after it was all over.” Nevertheless, when I started down the stairs, I found him dressed and waiting for me at the front door.
“You don’t do very well in emergency situations,” he said flatly.
Relieved to have his company, I confessed to him as we got in the van that we only had an eighth of a tank of gas.
“What were you thinking?” he demanded.
“Well, I wasn’t thinking Addi was going to pop tonight,” I said.
“Can we get to Ottumwa with that much gas?” he asked.
“We’ll find out,” I said, making him pinky swear not to tell his sister we would be traveling to the hospital on fumes.
Addi was on all fours in the second seat of the van, wailing. The Bee Gees were blaring “Jive Talkin’” from the CD player, a tune Zane decided would make a good labor and delivery theme song.
Seeing his sister in obvious pain, Zane generously asked Addi Rose if she wanted to hold his hand. She screamed at him that no, she would not like to hold his hand, but within seconds, seized it anyway. The ferocity with which she was squeezing his palm caused Zane’s eyes to bug completely out of his head. He maintains that it’s taken the full two years since Garett’s birth for his hand to heal, and he still insists that he suffered several tiny fractures to his hand each time his sister suffered a contraction.
When we were about 12 miles from the hospital, I glanced at the gas tank again: one-thirty-secondth of a tank.
“No problem,” I thought. Based on the rapidly intensifying squawking coming from the middle seat, I decided the head was going to crown long before we got anywhere near that hospital.
By the grace of God, we eked into the hospital parking lot as the gas gauge tipped just below zero. What Zane relishes most about that night was that when we pulled up at the emergency room door, I got out of the van, helped Addi out and then instructed him to independently park the van. He hadn’t yet earned his driver’s permit.
After arrival at the medical facility, things happened quickly. A certified nurse’s aide took Addi into a hospital room. Nurses scurried about hooking up monitors and putting in an IV line.
Addi was loudly shouting some creative “mantras” to help her cope with the pain – refrains that as she entered what the nurse called the “ring of fire” phase of Garett’s birth included demands that I “get a vacuum and suck this thing out of me!”
As it turned out, sucking him out wasn’t necessary; Garett slid onto the delivery table before the doctor even got his gloves on.
I’m not going to lie; when I first laid eyes on him, I was concerned about his swollen head. Having had my kids C-section, I was not prepared for the conical shape of his poor noggin, and I was quite sure he would have to be fitted for a helmet before we brought him home. (Thank God I didn’t try sucking him out; the swelling may have been permanent.)
Melon head and all, he was perfect. Heck, even the way this child poops is perfect.
Not until we had grandchildren was every day something to be celebrated. Looking back on his first two years of life, what strikes me most is the immeasurable joy he and our granddaughter, Kaylee, have flooded our hearts and home with.
Grandchildren have amazing powers. They can turn the mundane into the remarkable, the rotten into the wonderful, nothing special into something extraordinary.
With only a flick of their long eyelashes, these cherubs are able to manipulate Pop into spending money. I can personally attest that’s no small feat!
They’ve mastered the fine art of turning a clean house into a disaster zone in about seven seconds flat — not that I’ve timed them. It’s of no matter to us; they are free to trash our living room whenever they like.
All other milestones aside, I am most looking forward to the day they start talking in sentences, enabling them to inform us of everything their parents say and do.
I said it when Garett was born, and I’ll say it again now. When I held my daughter’s son for the first time, I was swaddling 7 pounds, 8.5 ounces of pure revenge.
Two years later, there is still nothing sweeter.
(Staci Ann Wilson Wright lives and teaches in Fairfield. She is a summer Ledger staff writer.)