We are just back from a week with The Grandparents in South Carolina. I’ve noticed, in the mere 40 hours we have been home, that Zoey seems to have a different set of expectations than before we left. For example, she expected vanilla French toast or blueberry pancakes for breakfast. Which, just so you know, has never once occurred here in our home. She also seems to expect applause for everything she does — like walking, grunting, pointing, eating, drinking, pooping. In short: existing. And while I won’t say that her existence isn’t applause worthy (it is), I will say that we, as jaded parents, have only been applauding the newish things. Like when she says ‘uh-oh’ or successfully stabs something other than herself with her fork. I love my daughter, but I just don’t have the will to make french toast every day (or any day thus far in my life) or the energy to be constantly amazed by her every movement.
There, however, are a couple of people that excel at the above. Enter: my parents. My parents were/are excellent parents. Just to give you an idea, growing up I played soccer for at least two seasons a year kindergarten until college. Collectively they only missed 3 games. Three. They were involved. They were supportive. They were perhaps a little too strict with curfew. Their super power as parents was the ability to always make me feel safe, loved, and valued. Their power as The Grandparents is magnified by a thousand. My dad will drop anything he is doing to read to Zoey. He’ll be chopping veggies for dinner and Zoey will toddle over, tug on his pant leg, grunt, and wave around the book she picked out. Dinner can wait. Off they go to read Duck on a Bike. My dad even does the voices. My only complaint: whenever a cow is featured in a story my dad will point out the utters and say, ‘That’s where the milk comes from.’ I don’t know why this bothers me. Somehow it seems like TMI — especially since Zoey can’t say ‘cow’ yet. And is still somewhat ambivalent about milk.
My mom (aka Gramme)? Well, she is a total goddess. There is no other way to describe her parenting and grandparenting abilities. Endless patience? Um . . . yeeeah. The woman can sit with Zoey for 45 minutes while Zoey forks one pea at a time and only gets said pea in her mouth about half the time. One pea at a time, people! One. Pea. At. A. Time. My mom is also always talking to Zoey. Which is exactly what a good parent/grandparent is supposed to do. It’s kind of unfortunate that Zoey has two introverts as parents. Having to speak constantly is like the 10th circle of hell for Demetri or me. My mom makes up for our poor parenting in the talking department. My mom tells Zoey how smart she is. How wonderful she is. And how much she is loved. They have conversations about politics. About books. About the weather. Every day we were in South Carolina my mom also wore different bracelets. Bracelets specifically picked out to entertain Zoey in the car or at restaurants. My mom is Super Gramme. Which may explain why whenever I would try and lift Zoey out of my mom’s arms, or even remove her from the same room as my mom, Zoey would shake her head and gesture wildly with her arms: No way! No way! Are you crazy? I don’t want to go with you. I want to stay with Gramme! This lady knows what she’s doing. Unlike some people I could mention.
So here we are back at home. Madly trying to lower Zoey’s expectations. This morning she had a frozen blueberry waffle for breakfast. I mean, it wasn’t frozen when I gave it to her. I did take the time to stick in the toaster. But it was not from scratch. Last night Zoey had peas. A tactical error on our part as she did want to fork them one at a time. Demetri and I lasted 7 minutes. Demetri got up, filled the fork with peas, and did The Airplane Game. I applauded wildly. Not so much because she was eating peas, or using a fork, but because she was eating quickly. We had important things to do. Like check Facebook and sleep. Maybe I need to be a little less ‘jaded parent’ and more ‘The Grandparent’. Although not with forking peas. That is just beyond my abilities.