Tuesday, August 26, 2008

All About Papo!

My daughters arrive early to prepare for the bridal shower they are giving their sister. They have the babies in tow. Aiden now 2 ½ and Paulina at a 17 months don’t get to visit each other very often. They are eyeing each other suspiciously. Then there is a bit of poking to check each others tolerance levels. This escalates into a debate over the ownership of the big blue ball. Each child with palm against chest is tapping “mine” in baby sign. The tapping becomes more insistent and develops into verbalization with each insistent pat-pat-pat of the chest.

Aiden looks as if he’s not too sure of this sudden turn of events. He is typically the only baby in the house. Paulina is watching him intently. She does not get deterred easily and holds her ground. Suddenly, Aiden spies his grandfather through the window. “Papo, Papo!” he exclaims. The excitement not only lights up his face, but in true childlike nature, infects his whole body. Arms going, and little legs hopping, he is all about Papo.

The girls go outside with the babies to see Papo. I’m busy making a pot of beans. When I finish my task, I look out the back door and find that a train set is being set up in the back yard. Aiden is very interested in the train. It chugs and toots and whistles, but doesn’t move along very well. The girls are trying to help their Dad get the tracks right, but in the end; a few pieces of pressed wood are laid out for the train to travel along. The train occupies Aiden for a good long while. Paulina is in and out of the house in the morning before guests arrive.

When the guests do arrive, I’m not sure where to put my attention. I want to be a good hostess, yet, I have my concerns about leaving Aiden alone so long with his grandfather. Some of the injuries my children sustained in childhood, when I thought he was watching them, pop into my head. The result is that I spend my day halfway between the back door and the company. At intervals, I look outside and check on the pair to make sure all is well. Here is some of what I witness:

Aiden and Papo are standing facing each other. I see one small person looking up into the face of the other. The small figure is covered head to toe with brown, very wet looking mud. In fact, it looks to be more of the muck consistency. The small face has an expression of waiting for the next shoe to drop. The other has an expression of “what do I do now?” The small figure is ushered over to a rain barrel, where the taller person proceeds to wash away the muck. I calmly walk over to the smaller person’s mother. “Papo and Aiden are getting along well. I just hope you weren’t expecting to get your child back clean.” She shrugs as mothers of young males do, knowing full well that boys will be boys.

Meanwhile, Paulina will have nothing to do with nap time although she is cranky and sleep deprived. She clings to her mother and will not be consoled by anyone. Her mother is in a quandary as she is the party giver and has some duties to attend too. I pry Paulina out of her mother’s arms, thinking I will walk a bit and maybe get her to sleep. When I reach the back door, Papo is there saying he will take her. I start to protest saying she is very cranky and won’t go to anyone. Paulina makes me a liar, by instantly halting the crocodile tears and putting her arms out for Papo. Now it is Paulina who is all about Papo.

When next I look out the door, I see three figures seated at the picnic table, their backs to the door. Only the tops of heads are visible above the chairs left and right. One dark curly head is to the left, and a light colored head, spiked from outdoor exertion, to the right. A taller figure is in the middle. There are three plates lined up in front of them, but there is no ownership of plates. I see little hands reach across and sample whatever strikes their fancy from any plate on the table. All is quiet as the sampling continues. I leave them to their feast.

Now any young mother can handle one child, and even manage two fairly well, but I have my doubts about a grandpa, who hasn’t seen kids in the house for long while managing two small active children without trouble. When next I look out the door, I see Papo bent double and looking squarely into Aiden’s face. He is trying to impress something upon Aiden. I can tell by the look on Aiden’s face, which I have seen many times over the years on his own mother’s that he is having nothing to do with what Papo is saying. It’s a look of stubborn defiance I have come to know so well. While I’m chuckling at witnessing this expression, Aiden peels off his shoes and tosses them over the stone wall into the woods. Papo has to retrieve them, which isn’t as easy as it sounds, since Aiden’s “shoes” are a pair of camouflage crocs. Two little children make a break for it. I keep my eye on them, but Papo has the situation under control.

Aiden likes to run run run. There is no stopping him. Paulina is as quick with mischief as Aiden is fast. No problem for the magnificent Papo. He has devised a scheme of his own. In his hand he is carrying a stick about an inch think and four feet long. Whenever Aiden starts in a direction that could be trouble, Papo holds the stick out and redirects him. Who knew you could herd children like livestock? I watch and this works well with Aiden. Paulina… not so much. She will not be herded like cattle. She grabs hold of the staff and a tug of war ensues between her and Papo. She won’t let go, and Papo can’t. If he does, the grip Paulina has will send her flying. I’m not sure how this works out as I’m distracted by the festivities inside.

By the end of the day as Aiden is strapped into his car seat for home, he is nearly asleep before the car is even started. Paulina doesn’t resist being buckled in either. Both have had a full day with Papo. As we wave them goodbye, I realize what a tremendous help Andy has been to us that day, and it is my turn to be “all about Papo!”

1 comment:

Willie aka NomadWillie said...

What a great story. I could see the whole thing unfolding in my head thru your writing...clap clap clap