How did he get to be 12, I want to know...the last time I checked, he was just turning 6...
My artistic, creative, hilarious grandson, the middle one, is 12...it must be true, 'cause his mom, my daughter, invited me for his birthday dinner tonight. She's a truthful kinda child, so she'd not tell me he turns 12 if he is...ummm....actually 7? Or 8?
How did that happen? He was just born a few years ago, I remember his first steps, a little while ago...his first sleepover at my house, last year, when he was...what, 5?
His first sleepover...that was an experience! He showed up, with his wee bag packed, with his favorite movie and his 'jammies and teddy...we had the best time, talking, walking, watching movies and cartoons til waaaay later than his mom would like, but she was not here to see, so it was ok...
The problem started at bedtime. Bedtime inevitably comes to all first-time sleepover grandchildren... sooner than they'd like, not a minute too soon for the grandmother. His had the nerve to show up around 9:30 that evening, and he was none too pleased, I can tell you!
"OK, my darling boy, it's bedtime...get your jammies on, I'll make you a snack and it's off to beddie-byes with you..." I sang, hopefully. After all the aforementioned arrangements were completed, he was tucked in, hugged soundly and kissed a million kisses...and promptly hopped out of bed to follow me down the stairs.
" Nope, sweetie, it's BED-time, and that means you go to bed, and I don't!" Tucking him back in one more time...firmly...with less kindness in my "Goodnight, now, it's time to sleep!", I closed the door...firmly... walked down stairs, only to hear him opening the door, and tipsy-toesing down behind me.
"OK, buckwheat, that's it! You go to bed, and you stay there, do you hear me, my boy-o?" I sounded grim, I thought...proof positive came in an instant, for he teared up, huge, round splashes of anguish dropping onto his jammies....
Y'know the Grandma guilt? It happens every time I do anything that causes pain or unhappiness to reside, no matter for how short a time, in their tiny little loving hearts...and this time I had it in spades. I know this boy, he's good at reading me and seeing where the Grandma guilt can be applied most effectively...
I turned around, scooped him up, and hugged him close....only to hear him wail words that ripped my heart out of its moorings and smashed it on the hallway floor...
"B-b-b-but, Grandma....I was only coming down because I forgot to tell you I love you!"
Wasn't it only a few weeks ago when he was 8 that he showed up at my door, tormented by some evil thing done to him on the playground...I wrapped him up in my arms, sat on the stairway with him, rocked him while he cried, then listened to his sorrowful story, full of the injustice of the principal and the meanness of the 'other kids.'
There is no way on this planet to take the hurt away from a small boy's heart and soul, when he's wounded to the quick like this. All the cookies and chocolate milk, all the promises of sleepovers with me and all the hugs in the world do not mend the heart of one small, sensitive little man who I love more than I have words to tell.
I called the principal, I talked with him and sorted it out...but in the end, my wee boy's heart was bleeding and I could not fix that for him. Wish I had a magic wand...I'd wave it and "Bippety boppety boo!"..it would take the hurt away, and make it like this had never happened.
I know, I know, I know, dammit.....all these things happen to make one stronger, to teach one lessons, to develop one's character. But, truly, in the overarching scheme of things, what does a little 8 year old guy need with things like character and strength earned at such a cost? He doesn't even know what those things are or what those words mean.
So...he's 12 today...he won't remember these traumas, when we sing "Happy Birthday", gift him with his favorite things and share an A & W dinner with him. Good thing too, that he won't...I'll remember it for him and that way, maybe God willing, keep him from some small amount of pain. How else do you love the boy, except by protecting him when you can?