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TALKING TO MYSELF: 10 December 2013 Today is our grandson Owen's 9th birthday. He began his celebration with a non-life threatening dash to the hospital emergency room after falling out of bed and slicing his eyebrow on the corner of the nightstand. One of the most affectionate and enthusiastic children I've ever known, he keeps life interesting for all of us who are privileged to love him. [See essay below that I wrote about Owen when he was two.] Although he arrived on earth weighing over nine pounds, he spent his first night in ICU because his lungs weren't operating at full speed. A night or two after he got home from the hospital, temperatures dropped to eight below zero, and the power promptly went out in their all-electric house. Swaddled in blankets, we adults hugged him and his two young siblings close to us to keep them from freezing to death. I think the power was off for only two hours, but with a fragile newborn in the house it was one of the scarier midnight vigils of my life. Then on December 21, when Owen was 11 days old, the Upper South and Midwest were hit with an epic blizzard that dumped up to three feet of snow on everything in sight. Since Owen shares a December 10th birthday with my Uncle Nevel who lived to be a hundred and one, I chose to think the "hundred year" snowstorm was a good omen, and that Owen, like Uncle Bo, will be around for a century. I do know this for sure -- the world is a more interesting place with Owen in it.
I’ve long suspected that the Good Lord programmed children to peak in charm and physical beauty at about the age of two. Otherwise, the human race would have died out long ago. If two year olds did not have eyes that rival the brightness of the sun, if their smiles did not melt glaciers, if their skin were not as soft as clouds – they would all be abandoned on the side of the road like a sack of kittens. Their kisses, sweeter than candy, save humankind from extinction.
I’m coming off a long weekend of babysitting our youngest grandson, Owen. He’s two and a half, and looks like an angel that Michelangelo might have painted. But frankly, after raising three children of my own, and putting in a lot of time with his two older siblings, I’m off my game. I’m past my prime. In our first round of “Who’s the Boss” Owen was the clear-cut winner.
Friday went pretty well. Owen and “Gummy” (as he calls me to my delight) were excited about the weekend ahead of us. We read books together, took a walk and then a ride, and whipped up a giant pan of blue box mac and cheese. As the day wore on, however, Owen became restless. I pulled a time honored pass out of my play-book, and we adjourned to the deck to blow bubbles.
Alas, I was having such a great time creating monster bubbles that I didn’t see Owen dump the jar of “bubble juice” into the bird fountain that stands in the corner of our deck. Within minutes, our fountain was transformed into a rabid wild thing. My husband has hosed it out three times now, and it’s still foaming like a mad dog. He’s convinced that Owen has single-handedly poisoned half the bird population in the county.
By Saturday, our kitchen floor was varnished with a paste of macaroni and “choc-choc” milk. But hey, floors can be mopped, I said, as I pried loose my house slipper from the hardwood. I was less philosophical when the commode in our bathroom stopped up. All our usual efforts were futile so there was nothing to do but call a plumber.
The plumber was smug as he extracted a full bar of soap wedged in the critical crook in the fixture’s lower anatomy. “Two year olds keep me in business,” he smirked.
My husband said (as he wrote out the check) “How did this happen? I thought you were watching Owen!”
I snapped right back, “But I thought you were watching him!”
And so it went until we realized that Owen had slipped out of the room again, and that neither of us was watching him.
We made it to Sunday, the day his parents were returning. My husband went on to church, but I allowed as how Owen and I could worship just as well at home. The truth was I didn’t think I could get us both bathed and ready to go on time.
In fact, I decided to postpone my daily bath until evening when our house would return to an adults only zone. Until then, I’d just put on some fresh clothes and spray myself in something that smelled good, I decided. I got Owen settled with his “bankie” in front of the TV watching Barney, and then slipped into our adjacent bedroom to change out of my bathrobe into daywear. As God is my witness, I was only out of the room one and a half minutes.
[Warning: the following material may not be suitable for all ages. Parental discretion advised before reading further.] At the transitional naked moment - unavoidable when one is putting on clean underwear - I heard a scream. With my heart in my throat, I peered around the corner of my bedroom door into the family room.
Now the family room has a floor to ceiling wall of windows on one side, and on the other, it has an open staircase leading to the upstairs. Owen has been navigating steps in his own two story house since he began to crawl so I’d not perceived the stairs as particularly dangerous for him.
But who knew his foot would fit on the one inch of step-riser that protrudes beyond the banister? Like a monkey, he had climbed to the tiptop of the stairs on the outside of the railing, hanging on to the delicate balusters as though he were swinging on grape vines through the jungle.
Looking down and finding himself suspended a good fourteen feet in the air, however, he panicked. I took one look at the wall of windows, one look at my naked body, and one look at a desperate Owen and made my decision. In a lightening second, this “Gummy” raced to the top of the stairs in her birthday suit and plucked him over the railing.
When his parents arrived a few hours later, I assured them all had gone fine. No use letting them know I’m over the hill. After all, I have hopes for a comeback. Owen may have won round one, but soon he’ll be three, and I may stand a better chance
©Copyright Georgia Green Stamper