Playing with the grandbabies

She may be just one year old, but that granddaughter of mine definitely knows what she wants and how to communicate her wishes. I stayed with her and three older grandchildren for a couple of days recently.
That first day, she wore a very pleased and proud smile as she showed me and her parents that she had figured out how to walk backwards. I do not remember watching any other babies discover walking backwards, and  this from a little bit of a person who only a month ago still teetered dangerously close to falling as she walked all over my house.
She has also conquered the food problem. This foodie knows when she wants to eat. She grabs the nearest high chair and pushes it over to the table, looks up and very insistently says, “mooor-a.”
After months of her mother instructing her to use the baby sign language for “more food, please,” the kid took a shortcut and settled on simply saying the word.
I poked food into her mouth as fast as I could, but she still grabbed for that spoon. We placed a small dish of cooked peas and carrots in front of her. She grabbed them up in her little fist and shoved them into her mouth until her chubby cheeks filled out like a chipmunk. Before we had time to consider what to do with the milk in the bottom of her cereal bowl, she took hold of the bowl with both hands and drained it dry.
She likes her nap times, too. No fights about sleep time from this kiddo – at least not yet.
The first day I supervised her and the others, she backed up to my lap, plopped down and snuggled. Well yes, she did need a diaper change, but she also wanted to rest her head and sleep.
Freshened up, she laid her head down and promptly went to sleep in her bed.
Ahhh, the joys of working with a plain, simple child, who makes her wishes known loud and clear.
Her 4-and-a-half-year-old cousin faces life almost as pragmatically.
A short visit on the phone with her absent parents and a long chat with her 2 year-old brother sufficed for keeping in contact with her family. No whines or cries of homesickness. This child has too many other things to do and learn.
For one thing, she likes to know things. When she did not understand, she asked: “What does ‘wise’ mean?” “What is a cave?” “Why are you doing that?” She made me think before I spoke, that one did.
Riding in the car with me, she often asked, “Tell me a story with your mouth.”
Well yes, that is how I always tell a story, but she means, “You can’t read one to me from way up there, so just tell me a story.”
Just repeating nursery rhymes held her attention. She makes her own pictures in her head to go with the story from my mouth.
Those imaginative mental pictures helped the afternoon we covered a table with a blanket to create a tent in the living room for the little ones’ entertainment. They crawled under the table, on the chairs and around the area for a couple hours talking about “let’s pretend this is my castle” “this is my room and I sleep up here” “That is your room” “This is the kitchen.”
They hauled toys into the tent and toys out of the tent for a couple of hours. When her five-year-old cousin invited her to play cars with him, she agreed and the two created a world where they came up with stories about the cars “with their mouths.”
Those two had a grand time swimming each day and wanted to go back often. After a couple of mornings of playing in the water, the 3-year-old said she did not want to go swimming. She just wanted to sit down and soak up her mother’s attention, free to read books or play without interference from the older children.
The baby didn’t care about swimming either. Her favorite game begins with a mischievous grin. She picks up a treasure box filled with toys, carefully selects a toy and drops them one by one – where the nearest adult can  hand them back to her. Once the adult figured out the game, she scooped up toys and tossed them down with a chortle.
I know, I know. Each activity represents some fantastic learning skill, but they also provided a lot of fun for me and the children.