Yesterday I opened the dusty file cabinet of my memories to search for lullabies.
As my ten-month-old grandson rubbed his eyes in a clear signal that he had reached his current limit of exploring the world of his living room . . . as he tired of playing with the doorstop, of trying to reach the dirt in the huge potted palm in the foyer and of shaking the wooden gate that separated him from the dog food bowls in the kitchen . . . he seemed to say, “Silly Grandma, put me down for a nap.”
As I settled him on the soft black and white chevron fleece he loves to cuddle with, he looked at me expectantly. Dutifully, I launched into a lullaby that someone who loved me must have imprinted on my own young memory bank. Maybe my own grandmother sang me to sleep with Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem, “Wind of the Western Sea,” set to a haunting melody.
After a few rounds in that minor key, I floundered until I found another visual sheet of music from my past, “Sleep My Child.” By the time I remembered “Lullay, My Little Tiny Child,” (a/k/a Coventry Carol) his eyes were rolled back in his head, his precious eyelashes fluttered, his chubby hands stretched out and he was gone.
For the ten minutes he napped before his mother returned from work, I had time to reflect on one of God’s greatest gifts to older folks. This little guy, a quarter of my flesh and blood, only seems like the cutest kid in the universe. I am convinced every grandparent feels the same about their own progeny.
What finally hit me is something most grandparents have realized long ago. These little people give us the gift of innocence, beauty, laughter and the fresh joy of life. We get to watch them exploring the world, first with their eyes, then with all the things that go in their mouths. My own grandson is going on the greatest adventures that his chubby knees will take him to and is clearly ready for his first steps. All the while he is taking time to squeal with delight, give all of us his monster face as he chomps down on his plastic spoon, squints his eyes and huffs comically through his applesauce.
God has given us grandparents a rich prize. I don’t have to see him turn into a cranky, screaming meanie at bedtime. I don’t have to take him to the pediatrician, clean up his puke or worry he will not make it to his first birthday due to some parental oversight like I feared while raising his father.
And when he gets old enough to play soccer or T-ball, I can go enjoy the game without coming home to wash his uniform or bandage his skinned knees. My job is to sit back and enjoy, treasuring every single moment. That, and looking up the lyrics to a few more lullabies. All too soon, Grandma will be considered boring so expanding my Sing Him to Sleep repertoire is a must.