Stumbling miracles

Cindy ArpOur Town Outdoors

In a spectacular example of grandmotherly ineptitude, I recently attempted to put our grandbaby, Liam, to bed with his sleep sack on backwards and with his toy train zipped inside.

The poor little one kept saying, “Green train? Green train?” Assuming this was a bedtime delay tactic I kept saying, “You have your red train” right up to the moment our boy pointed to his legs. I unzipped the sleep sack, and saw the green train.

The day before, after changing his diaper, Liam said, “Puffy diaper, Nana!”, a comment that helped me notice that his diaper was indeed puffy and wasn’t going to stay with him long unless I made some adjustments. As a fill-in mommy while the real mommy was away on a business trip, I was making a few mistakes. Life with a stumbling toddler miracle, could there be anything funnier, sweeter or more terrifying?

Going down the very tall slide: Fun for Liam, scary for Nana.

One day while we were at a nearby park, I rediscovered my inner Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon persona. The park contains several climbing structures and on this day a gang of middle-schoolers took over a structure where many of the toddlers played. The older kids chased and pushed each other and after one of them pushed past Liam, almost causing him to fall, I body-blocked the next boy, a kid about my size who was intent on following his friend.

Not on my watch, buddy. Not only was I being a bodyguard, but I was attempting to keep up with very fast Liam who insisted I follow him as he climbed up the tallest slide and slid down. I had to follow him, not a task for the faint of heart who had not been on a tall slide in years. Remember the energy and bravery it took/takes to raise a child?

Young children’s eyes turn city curbs into high wires, driveways into raceways, and crossing streets into a game where you push the magic button and watch the little walking man turn from red to white. When the man turns white, you can hold an adult’s hand and walk across the street.

Blowing iridescent bubbles in the backyard, picking up small pebbles and wondering at their colors and sparkles, learning to tie your shoes, helping Nana cook supper, watching the garbage truck beep, beep, beep as it backs up to collect the garbage, so many daily marvels to see. Is it no wonder that toddlers need an afternoon nap and generally sleep soundly through the night?

I recently read that in the Talmud it says that “every blade of grass has an angel which sits over it and whispers ‘Grow, grow!’” Surely every toddler has an angel who urges them to grow, an angel who compels others to block danger for them, others to teach them, all to love them.

On my last night of Nana-duty, a night when mommy would arrive home from the airport late and be there in the morning when Liam woke up, I laid him gently in his crib. He was almost asleep; I was almost crying. As I left his room, Shakespeare’s words from the play Hamlet ran through my head, “… Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

Good night, my sweet boy prince. I love you so. Nana will come to visit again soon.

Cindy Arp, teacher/librarian, retired from Knox County Schools. She and husband Dan live in Heiskell.


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