The last day of August was my final day in the Midwest taking care of my 3 year-old grandson all summer. I was savoring the sweet moments, following him around in his creativity – playing hide and seek, making cookies, doing puzzles. The backyard sandbox that was full of water from last night’s rainstorm. With razor focus he played in the water and sand for maybe an hour, pouring water down a funnel and tilting his head to examine how that made the wheel turn, while his feet, then shirt then pants all got wet. I found half of a robin eggshell on the grass and handed it to him. He said “bird baby”, made a flying bird noise and then put the shell on his head, said, “hat” and laughed.
His Dad came home for lunch with us, we did some art and played ball, then he fell asleep around 3pm. He woke up crying a half hour later and when I went to him, he fell asleep in my arms on a rocking chair for another hour. I dozed off while sensing his little belly rise under my hand, hearing him breathe, looking at his innocent face and feeling the warmth of supporting his body under my arm. So peaceful. Bliss.
His Mom appeared home from work and gently woke him up. They cuddled and giggled, while I got up smiling and went to make dinner. At dinner I told the 12 year-old that I was leaving tomorrow. He turned to his little brother and said, “Nana is leaving tomorrow. We will be sad.” The little guy then looked sad. The older one said while eating, “No, don’t leave. Stay here forever. I don’t want you to go.” This touched me as sometimes I barely saw him for days, because he is usually caught up in his own world of school, friends and sports. That night he had his friend Caleb over. As I was packing to leave the next day, my grandson said, “Nana, you are good at Fortnite dances. Caleb, show her the latest one. You guys dance as I play the song on my guitar and we can record it.” We rehearsed, then recorded our routine and laughed at the silliness of it.
I will miss the silly surprises like placing half a robin’s eggshell on one’s head to make a hat or learning dances from a 12 year-old. I will miss the sweet warm times like being told that I will be missed or feeling the rising belly of a sleeping toddler.
Once I got home, I was disoriented by the contrast of my daily life. It was no longer my job to alert to the sound of a young child all day. There was not a new surprise or task around every corner. As it was the weekend, my husband took me to dinner and for a very long walk on the beach. Time seemed to slow down as I got used to a different climate and time zone. My summer job was over.
Labor Day was designed to celebrate labor by giving workers the day off. I had been in the thick of a lively family of 6, including the boys, their parents, me and the German Shepherd all summer. I had been on duty from 8 to 5 every weekday. Yesterday was Labor Day. My husband and I took the day off. We did a few errands but mostly we strolled around Quail Gardens in a lazy hazy daze, not working. That is exactly the purpose of Labor Day.