Coming in the week after Mother's Day, this column was going to be an ode to all mothers, but in particular my partner's 92-year-old mom.
My plan was to chat with her during Mother's Day brunch and garner sage advice from this British-born matriarch, who retains a keen sense of humour and has witnessed almost a century of progress. Unfortunately my plan didn't factor in how much work it would be keeping my twoyear-old grandson amused in a packed restaurant. So instead, this column is dedicated to the mothers of toddlers. I salute you.
My son and grandson live on Vancouver Island, and because I don't see enough of them, I jumped at the chance to babysit my grandson when my son, who's in his 20s, wanted to celebrate his birthday with Vancouver friends. It was a win-win for all involved. It was also a swift reminder of how far out of the loop I've come in parenting a toddler.
Challenge number one was the car seat. We usually throw it in the trunk of the car and let my son install it when he arrives off the ferry, but this time we decided we should master the skill. Did I mention my partner is a retired engineer? How hard could it be? So we got the car seat out of storage and with instructions in hand wrestled it into the back seat.
Home from the ferry, it was time for a walk. This was when I began to realize how long it had been since I lived with a toddler and made the classic grandma mistake of giving him a fruit juice freezie to eat along our walk. My grandson was struggling to get the frozen juice from the bottom of the freezie to the top, and I offered a hand along the way. Soon both my hands and his were covered in grape juice. That's when the big friendly dog loped over, much to my grandson's delight, and he immediately started petting the pooch with his sticky fingers. So now we had a big, sticky, hairy mess to contend with and I hadn't brought so much as a tissue. Shortly thereafter, my grandson sneezed. It wasn't pretty.
Five minutes into our walk, we were both a big, sticky, hairy, snotty mess in search of a washroom. Rescue came at a washroom by way of a nearby restaurant where we grabbed a bite.
Later that night, with my son out for the evening, it was time for bath, bed and storytime. Not wanting my grandson to wake up scared, I slept in the spare room with him where all was well until he woke up around midnight looking for "my cup." When I gave him his cup, he wailed, "OTHER CUP!" which left me confused. Long story short, it took almost three hours to get him back to sleep, which made for a cranky toddler the next morning as we prepared to head out for Mother's Day brunch.
Me: "Come on, let's get you dressed."
That routine carried on for a while, but my grandson's typically sunny disposition soon returned and we headed off for brunch. Thanks to Mother's Day, the restaurant we chose was packed and it took almost two hours for us to be seated and served. My grandson was so hungry by then he made quick work of his lunch. Then it was off to pick up daddy and drive him and my grandson back to the ferry.
My son presented me with a set of bamboo bath products beautifully wrapped in bright green tissue paper, and it was a lovely Mother's Day moment. Seconds later my grandson announced, "My tummy hurts," followed shortly thereafter with projectile vomiting. This was too big a job for the tissue I had finally remembered to put in my purse, so instead I grabbed the closest thing I could find to paper towel-the bright green tissue paper from my present.
Then it was back home for a bath, change of clothes and a hosing down of the car seat. Regrouped, we headed out for a later ferry. All went well. The visit was a definite reminder of how much work a toddler is and-coming from a mother-how much they're worth it.
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