I’m not very social with friends or professional engagements anymore. Kevin and I hardly ever entertain guests, it seems, and I’m not as “available” for impromptu evenings. Part of it is due to the fact that we just bought a puppy and then inherited a bulldog from a daughter, and part of it is because our grandchildren are getting older. And you know what that means — official Saturday night date nights again!
This last weekend I had a date with Alexander (pictured below). It’s a big name for a little boy and, in fact, he hasn’t quite yet grown into it. He’s just recently grown into the size 12-months pants I bought for him, and the teddy bear he sleeps with is still bigger than he is.
Alex and I spent date night in a rocking chair. He was asleep when I arrived, and I was supposed to keep him prone (“give him a bottle but don’t let him up”) while his parents went on that rarest of adventures — a date night of their own. I’d already shared his “awake time” — we’d gone to the zoo and swimming. Then they put him to bed, and I reappeared to take care of him. They thought he would wake around 9:00 for a quick feeding and then go right back to sleep, as was his routine.
Instead, he woke at 8:30, and when he saw his Nana leaning over his crib (which, by the way, was in a hotel room, as he was visiting Madison from Chicago), he recognized a WOO — or “window of opportunity” as we call them in our family.
It was a WOO moment for sure; a chance to break Nana’s heart with one little fake sob. No file could have proved more effective in breaking through his little crib bars. An obviously lame sob was followed by a truly radiant and toothy smile, and he was plucked out of that porta crib faster than a bug out of a soup bowl.
Instead of being put back to bed, he got his diaper changed — which led to an impromptu crawling race with Nana on the room’s big king bed. (Could he reach the end of it and fall off before she could maneuver around a suitcase to catch him on the other side? NO? Score one for Nana!). For his effort to try to find a way to get a bruise on Nana’s watch, however, he was given a fresh bottle and gently tucked back in bed with his favorite soft blanket.
He drank the bottle happily, then simply got up again. Alexander is a big enough boy to stand up by himself. He’s quite proud of that new ability.
That’s when the rocking chair came into play — my secret weapon. Several versus later of Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ra, I had almost lulled or bored him back to sleep. Then I made the mistake of kissing his irresistible head … and he giggled aloud. Which made me instinctively hug him. Even though I know he was more asleep than awake, Alex proved to be conscious enough to stagger to his little feet as soon as I put him back in the crib.
“Time for night-night. Lay down,” I whispered. He pointed at my face and said “Bah.” I leaned closer to lay him down — so close that he could grab my nose and cut a nostril with his sharp little fingernail, which made me cry out in surprise. That sent him into a fit of giggles…. He likes noses and glasses and usually I have enough sense to keep mine beyond his short reach. Score a big one for Alex.
Okay, okay. Plan B. More milk. Another diaper change. Another crawling race to an imagined freedom on the far side of the big bed. (See Nana. See Nana run to catch baby. Run, Nana, run.) Meanwhile, I had a growing sense of dread that his parents would return and, seeing their baby wide awake and playing, find me lacking and realize that my skills are in the Nana arena, not the Nanny one. I suck at night duty.
Date night was abruptly concluded just as I had feared; the key sliding in the hotel door, followed by whispers and then … discovery. Alexander and I caught playing a lively game of peek-a-boo.
“He woke up,” I mumbled lamely. I knew I was in trouble, and I suspect he did, too, because when he saw the look on his mother’s face, he held out his chubby little hands to her and said, “Mama,” as clear as a bell, the first time he has said those words directly to her with obvious meaning.
I will be forever grateful to my little grandson for being so quick witted. It’s likely the only reason we’ll get date night again in the near future — though more likely on his turf in Chicago, where the rules are a little clearer and the bedroom familiar. No more excuses for baby or Nana.
Meanwhile, I’m having date night with Nathanial. The (almost) four year old and I are going to see the moving Partly Cloudy with a Side of Meatballs. Natalie is having a tea party with her Nana soon. Patrick has booked a special getaway weekend for grandmother and grandson at a hotel, complete with plans to go horseback riding and to a petting zoo.
So it’s unlikely I’ll see you anytime soon at a weekend social event. My Frosty Balls and Madison Club galas are behind me, I fear. But I really don’t miss them. My husband and I work in the occasional weeknight dates, but my weekends belong to Patrick, Nathanial, Natalie and Alexander.