Posted tagged ‘grandparenting’

A Two Year Old’s Stairs Shepherd

April 9, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                        April 9, 2017

                               

On Friday I had the opportunity to spend the day with my just-turned two year old granddaughter, Corin (Rennie). Her regular child care provider was battling a sickness so “Granddad” got called up from the Reserves to Active Duty.

About an hour into our time together I thought that I caught a whiff of something…potent! Time to change the diaper, so I said, “Rennie, let’s go change your diaper, okay?”

“Okay!” she replied, a sure sign of the fact that she had made a direct diaper deposit. She headed for the stairway leading to the upstairs, and proceeded up the steps…one step at a time like her brother on the playground monkey bars. I followed along behind ready to stop a tumble. My focus, although she didn’t know it, was on her.

A few minutes later, now wearing a dry diaper and the clothes for the day, she began going back down the steps…one step at a time. She would sit on a step and slowly slide her feet off of the step below it while also sliding her butt off the step she was sitting on.
I went before her! I positioned myself below her, but facing her, and made sure she safely came down the stairs one step at a time.

I’m speaking at church this morning about Psalm 23, the Lord is my shepherd! It tells us about the protection of God and the care of God. He is a Shepherd that goes before us, but also follows along behind us. In essence, he is always there for us.

Rennie is only slightly aware that her granddad is looking out for her, being in the place and position I need to be in order to make sure she is okay. I’m like the shepherd of the stairs for her!

My guess, however, is that she is more aware of my protection on the steps than I am of my Shepherd’s presence of protection! Today, at least, I’m going to seek to have a heightened awareness of what my Lord is doing, where my Shepherd is leading, and how my God is following!

Ground-Daughter

February 19, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                  February 19, 2017

                                 

It had been one of those weeks! You know the kind…where you go a thousand miles a minute and never seem to get anywhere. It had been a week filled with always getting behind the person driving twenty miles under the speed limit; a week of dealing with a cold, and speaking of that, a week of dealing with snotty-nosed middle school students who seemed to think Valentine’s Day entitled them to hallway intimate embraces; a week of dealing with belligerent basketball coaches and fans; a week of neck pain, backaches, and throbbing knees.

And then our granddaughter got sick Friday night!

Both Carol and I were free on Friday, and I was looking forward to some early morning writing time perched on my Starbucks stool, but our daughter and granddaughter needed us. Admittedly, I agreed to come over early in the morning and sit with Reagan, who just turned six the week before, but I was muttering to myself!

I arrived at 7:40 so our oldest daughter, Kecia, could head to school, where she would face a full day of fourth grade parent-teacher conferences. Reagan was half laying and half sitting on the couch watching TV. We greeted one another and then I sat down at the kitchen table to do an evaluation for a friend. I thought it might take an hour, but, instead, took only about ten minutes. I went over to the couch and sat down by my oldest granddaughter.

On the TV was a kid’s show called Mia and Me. I started watching it with her, not realizing that it was a Netflix season series! After the first episode, seeing that the next episode would start in twenty seconds, I asked a few questions to the recovering sick one.

“So is that lady the bad guy?”

“Yes, she’s trying to get the unicorns.”

“Why does she want the unicorns?”
“To take their horns so that Queen Panthea can stay young.”

To myself. “Huh?”

“Who are the two kids flying around in the air?”

“Those are elves. They are trying to keep the unicorns safe.”

“Oh!”

We sat there for a couple of hours watching six episodes. Reagan leaned into me, like I used to do with my dad in church when I was her age. She settled into my side as Mia faced another riddle to solve in Episode 4.

We journeyed through the land of Centopia together that morning, the old guy asking questions and the young one providing the answers.

It was a morning that we both needed. A morning where a six year old got me grounded again, with some moments of quiet and togetherness. Sitting on the couch with my granddaughter was without a doubt the most meaningful experience I had all week.

Sometimes the inconveniences of life lead us to the moments that God most desires for us. They are moments that won’t make headlines, but are moments that plant the treasure of life within our hearts.

Dad-Sitting

February 4, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                      February 4, 2017

                                       

My dad has had a January to forget. Two weeks in the hospital…one week home…and then back in the hospital for another week. He loved the nurses, but disliked the meatloaf.

So I had the opportunity to fly in for a few days and be with him. My dad turns 89 in about four months. He’s no spring chicken! In fact, his spring sprung a while ago. The times I’m able to come back to the southern tip of Ohio from the elevation of Colorado are special, deeply personal, and filled with shared stories.

Yesterday I walked with him down to the dining room of his senior adult apartment complex. A slow walk, but a steady walk. When he arrived he made the rounds, giving a hug to each of the women who, I swear, all initiated the embrace. He shook the hands of each man before setting down at a table with two of his peers, Leo and Dale. It was Dad’s first meal taken in the midst of the gathered “white hairs”, and it brought a sense of exhilaration to the 25 or so. He is loved and appreciated, always ready to give a warm word of greeting and an engaging question.

Then it was back to his apartment to sit and talk. Three days earlier I had “grandbaby-sat” for a two year old. Now I was “Dad-sitting” a man who was almost twenty-six when I was born!

We shared stories about teaching, his military service, Kentucky basketball, and all the nice nurses who cared for him at the hospital. Our conversation wound its way through the many rooms of our lives, one door leading towards the next one on the other side of the story.

I told him stories from my recent three-week teaching stint and the one student that I sent to have a chat with the assistant principal, and he told me about the student who he had a difficult  time with when he was student teaching high school agricultural science.

We got on the topic of security guards at schools, banks, and other places, and he recalled the pre-security days at the Social Security Administration office he managed…the times when an irate citizen had to be calmed down simply with words, not a Taser gun!

We have a way in our culture of devaluing our older folks, minimizing their relevance and becoming deaf to their voices. Thankfully I’ve come to the point of seeing how treasured my life is because of the father I have. The occasions of “Dad-sitting” are dwindling, shared moments waning, and I breathe each one of them in as if they are my last sip on water in a long journey.

Tomorrow I’ll watch the Super Bowl with Dad. I can’t remember the last Super Bowl we watched together! It may actually be the first time we’ll share the moment. The game will become secondary to just being together. I’m sure we’ll laugh at some of the commercials and take bathroom breaks while Lady GaGa is being a spectacle. We’ll talk about the Cleveland Browns of the 60’s, the Ironton High School Fighting Tigers, and recall when my big brother came back from an away game that the Williamstown High School football team had played on a Friday night and said to Dad, “Look Dad! Real mud!”

We will simply sit and enjoy the moment. The depth of life is made from moments like these.

Talking Two-ish!

February 3, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                         February 3, 2017

                                         

    “Juice, pees!”

“You want some juice?”

“Juice, pees!”

“Okay, I’ll get you some apple juice.”

“Pees!”

My youngest granddaughter, Corin…or Rennie, is very, very verbal for someone who doesn’t turn two until the end of March. But she hasn’t perfected the pronunciation part of language yet. Of course, there’s a few adults who are still suspect in that area as well!

One day this past week I had the opportunity…and the challenge…to grand-babysit her. It was just the two of us…and the cat who slept the whole time! When Granddad is the sole translator of the two-ish language some things get lost in the translation.

I was sitting on the couch watching her jabbering to her dolls and then she approached me.

“Gip ‘sha, pees!”

“What, honey?”

“Gip, ‘sha, pees!”

“Gip sha?” I sat there like a 9th grader trying to understand calculus. She stared up at me with a look on her face that spoke, “What is your problem, Granddad? Gip ‘sha!”

Rule Number 1 for two year olds! If you don’t understand what she is saying distract her by offering her a cookie or Goldfish cheese crackers.

Two minutes later with cookie crumbs decorating her cheeks she resumed her conversation with the dolls. Like an American tourist in China I had used the common language of food to get us over the language barrier.

A few minutes later the next challenge surfaced.

“Tain!”

“What, honey?”

“Tain, pees!” She waddled over to the toy train tracks.

“You want to play with the train?”

“Pees!”

She lifted the plastic circular track and carried it to the kitchen. I surmised that I was to follow with the actual cars of the train. We settled on the floor and she started her own conversation with all the parts. I have no idea what the conversation was about, but she wasn’t asking me for help, so I sat and watched with great puzzled interest. A few minutes into the train adventure she decided that all of her dolls should also be involved and brought them one by one from the living room into the kitchen…and then the doll crib, and the doll bottle, and the doll sippy cup! The kitchen was starting to resemble Union Station. Somewhere in the midst of the proceedings her main doll baby got placed inside the circular train tracks. I’m not sure if she was being sacrificed or showcased, but the conversation continued. She even took her doll blanket and covered up the main character.

I simply watched and tried to understand. Two year olds have their own world that we are privileged to watch and enjoy. It’s wonderfully confusing and strangely delightful. They create their own storylines and dream up their own plots. They reflect what has been modeled for them, and yet rewrite the adventure in ways that are comforting.

“Potty! Go potty!”

I understood those words clearly! In fact, she didn’t even have to say “Pees!”

The Marvel of Little Ones

July 30, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                         July 30, 2016

                                     

I am a grandfather…three times over! An 8 year old professor in the making, a five year old CEO, and a 16 month old politician. The past two days “Grammy”, our dear Michigan friend Janet, and I have been watching the Three Miniature Musketeers since our fourth grade teaching daughter “Mom” went back to begin the new school year. Since my grandson often dresses up as Superman, Ironman, Batman, or Captain America I guess it would be more appropriate to refer to the three as “The Avengers!”

The two older kids entertain one another most of the time. We just have to be the Supreme Court Justices for decisions that can’t be resolved through sibling negotiations.

But the 16 month old! She is the Energizer Bunny with a diaper on!

And I marvel at her! I am amazed at just about everything she does, including the amount of poop that can fill her diaper! How can so much come out of someone so small?

I am amazed at how she can go from laughter to having a tantrum in the space of a few seconds…and then back again!

I am amazed at how she greets me with her pronunciation of “Granddad” every time I arrive in the room after being gone for…Ohhh!…maybe two minutes.

She amazes me with her determination, carrying around the handbag her mom has passed down to her. The handbag is about half her size, and she is determined to lift it and place it on the couch that comes up to her chest. Grunting all the way, she stays on task until it is heaved on to the couch…and then she promptly takes it back down, walks around for a few seconds, and then repeats the whole task again.

I am amazed at how relational she is. She is drawn to where the person or persons are, and when she is in the room she garners all the attention.

I am amazed at her capacity for mimicking. Grammy said the word “pizza” while she was in the room- not to her, mind you!- and she voiced her agreement with the word by shouting “PIZZA!” When her brother and sister dance in the middle of the living room, she dances. When her brother sits and reads she is prone to sit and “kind-a read”, also.

She stuns me with her understanding of boundaries. She stands in front of the DVD player and video game system and says to no one in particular “No no!” as she shakes her head.

I’m taken back by her impatience. She sits in my lap as I read a book to her, but if the pages aren’t turning fast enough she turns them for me…and even takes the book and throws it down! That’s my clue that we are done with that one! “Move on, Granddad!”

I am amused at how I can be her personal playground, as in climbing tree! Slap a sign on me that says “Jungle Gym!”

And what occurred to me in the midst of my two days of amazement was the fact that our Father God is just as amazed at everything each one of us does! God is still amazed at what a 62 year old grandfather does…good and bad! He is amused by our humor, and amazed by our words of wisdom. He’s taken back by our ability to figure out situations, make mistakes and learn from them. His heart is warmed by the depth of our relationships, and the care we offer to one another. He’s taken back by the amount of crap that is a part of our lives!

In many ways my amazement about everything our 16 month old granddaughter does is a reflection of how our Creator sees each one of us. He closely watches because he deeply loves!

Driving the Car With A Back Seat Full of Grandkids

April 21, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           April 20, 2016

                      

Strapped in, buckled up, and securely fastened.

Carol and I drove the “Wolfe Bus”, disguised as a Honda Accord, down the road. The back seat was at capacity with three grandchildren. They looked like three kids locked into their roller coaster seats waiting for the ride to start.

A thirteen month old named Corin (Rennie for short); a five year old CEO named Reagan; and the eldest child straight from soccer practice, seven year old Jessie. “Grammy” and I didn’t have to worry about conversation. The back seat competed for it!

“Jessie, you can’t have any Cheetos, because I ate them all!”

“Reagan!”

“You can have Cheerios.”

“Da…Da!”

“Great!” he replied with seven year old sarcasm. “Grammy, did Reagan eat all the Cheetos?”

“Yes, but, Jessie, there weren’t very many left in the bag.”

“But I ate them all and you can have Cheerios.”

I contributed to the conversation: “Reagan!” (said with a semi-stern parental tone to it)

“Da…Ba..Ba!”

“Corin said she saw me eat all the Cheetos.”

“That’s not what she said.”

“Then what did she say? I’m sitting beside her and that’s what I heard her say.”

“She said, “Da…Ba…Ba!”

“Da…Da…Ba…Ca…Da!”

“I told you she said Cheetos.”

“Whatever!”

“Grammy, where are we going for dinner?”

“Home!”

“Da…Ba…Ca…Ca!”

“Corin says we should go to Cracker Barrel.”

Grammy looked at me with eyes that were rolling. “Reagan, are you Corin’s interpreter today?”

“Yes, when she has something to say she tells me and I let everyone else know.”

“Wow! Does she tell you to change her diaper?”

“No, she tells me to tell you to change her diaper, but she’s okay right now.”

“Ca…Ca…Blah!”

“Granddad, I finished reading those books you got for me.”

“Encyclopedia Brown?”

“Yes!”

“That’s awesome, Jessie! You read them really fast.”

Not to be moved out of the spotlight: “We learned the letter “Z” at Lil’ Sprouts yesterday. Do you want to hear it?”

“Sure, Reagan!” Grammy replied.

“Zebra, zoo, zookeeper, zoom, zig-zag.”

“That’s awesome, Reagan!”

“Z is the last letter in the alphabet.”

“Za…Ba…Za!”

Jessie giggled. “Corin is saying Z!”

Granddad humor: “I guess you could say that is the end of things.”

Confused silence!

“Ba…DaDa…Blah!”

Theologizing With My Nine Month Old Granddaughter

January 6, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                   January 5, 2015

                    

Recently I obtained the first volume of Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics: The Doctrine of the Word of God. It joins other classic theological works that set on my bookshelf…unread! I keep telling myself that I’m going to read them, but I approach the opportunity with the same level of excitement as when my physician checks my prostate at my annual physical.

They are masterful words set to an endless number of pages. Cures for insomnia as you ponder the theological reasoning of the Christian faith.

Today I hung out with my nine-month old granddaughter, Corin. We had moments of pondering, periods of quiet, and reoccurring messages.

I’m not sure why it is, but when I’m with Corin I repeat myself “Trinity style”- the same message three times but with differences in the inflection of the words. So I say “Corin, God loves you! Yes, he does…yes, he does, yes he does!” She stares at me…absorbing the message, pondering its implications…or feeling uncomfortable with the wetted weight of her diaper!

Today I sang “Jesus Loves Me” to her, just because she was sucking on a bottle as I was holding her.

I keep my theology simple and sweet sounding with her. Perhaps next year we’ll get to some conversations on propitiation and substitutionary atonement, but for now it’s all about God and Jesus loving her.

I’ve always been a simple theologian. In seminary I used to have to read Emil Brunner out loud to myself to follow his train of thought. With Corin I keep it short, personal, and with a smile on my face.

Quite honestly, sitting in silence with a nine month old is a treasured time. She found her “recliner” this morning in the bend of my right elbow with my leg as her cushion. We pondered the stillness for a few minutes before her eye lids pushed down. It was a sacred moment undisturbed and intimate.

And then I took her to basketball practice! Perhaps she will come to love Jesus AND God’s favorite sport!