babies, bottles and bonfires

The one thing we did not need the evening we took care of my daughter’s children was a bonfire. The infant and her two-and-a-half-year-old brother had arrived in the early afternoon, hot, sweaty, miserable from the unexpected, intense heat at the picnic for the 10th year reunion of their mother’s high school class.

“Everyone with children was ready to go after two hours,” my daughter sighed plunking down a diaper bag. Stripping the baby, she added, “She was practically panting from the heat.”
The baby stayed inside the rest of the day. After a quick freshen-up, her brother went down for a nap.

When I stepped in the room for a second with something, he grinned mischievously at me, eager to play. I left quickly – after his early morning, he needed sleep. He took a long nap – as did his baby sister. I chatted with my daughter, the men went out to look at the prograss on the nearly finished workshop-barn.

After weighing the pros and cons of taking the baby or leaving her with us for the evening’s reunion dinner, my daughter laid out pajamas for both children, made sure we had our instructions, tweaked her hair and make-up and left the baby with a bottle.
Grandpa and grandma had the kids with no parental supervision. We could do whatever we wanted to do.
Grandpa took his little buddy out to the backyard to play – they returned to rummage through the cupboard for matches. During his week of preparation for company, grandpa had piled up a bunch of yard trash and workshop excess to be burned. The company of grandchildren absolutely guaranteed that he would have a fire – whether we needed it or not.
Little buddy would do anything grandpa wanted to do.
With the baby settled down for another stretch of sleep, I grabbed the camera and followed them out the door.
The two of them watched the fire from their perch on the log of a pine tree that once grew in the yard. Legs dangling, the little fellow looking up every so often at his grandfather.
Grandpa noticed a stray stick, stood up, picked it up and tossed it on the fire.
Grandson looked around, found a bit of a stick, picked it up and tossed it on the fire.
Grandpa went back to the log and sat down again. Grandson went back to the log and clambered up to sit beside him.
The two sat and watched the flames of the fire shooting up to the sky while I looked across the flame and snapped a couple pictures.
The fire ceremony did not last. With the day’s heat still lingering and supper already eaten, they did not initiate the ritual of roasting hot dogs or marshmallows or building s’mores. They came back inside to prepare for bed about the time the little one woke up, looking for something to eat.
While I prepared a bottle for the baby, Grandpa helped his grandson with pajamas.
“Time for bed,” Grandpa said.
“Night, night ‘tory,” the child insisted.
“Okay, go get a book.”
He found one and the two settled down in the overstuffed chair to read it.
If my hands had not been full of baby, bottle and burping, I would have gotten a digital picture. My mental photo will suffice.
They read, then Grandpa went to tuck him in bed – and stayed a long time. After burping the little one, I walked down the hall and peeked in on them. Grandpa lay on the bed with grandson, telling him another story.
“He wanted me to tell him another story,” he said. “I’m not done yet.”
I tip-toed away, patted the baby’s back, checked the bonfire and answered the phone. Momma and Daddy would be getting back later than they originally thought.
I laid down on the couch so I could hear the baby if she woke up.
And that’s where the parents found us when they returned – resting sleepily in the living room, the bonfire down to coals and the clutter of the day around us.