“You’re not Papa!” she exclaimed, melting down into a heap on the floor. A not quite two year old’s favorite person in the world is no joking matter. I’m not chopped liver but today she had been waiting for him to arrive home for what seemed like a very long time, and everyone that walked through that door except Grampa was getting the same treatment.
“Sorry.”, her mom said with a half a smile, as she retrieved the tiny distraught body from the ground, heading back out to the kitchen. “It’s been a hard day.”
Even her own father had gotten the “Not the Papa” treatment today. We were all used to it actually.
There was a special bond between them. We had encouraged my son and his family to move back to California after my own Dad had passed away. Perhaps we all could have done things in a better, more planned way. My guess is that they would still be “planning” on moving out “someday” if we had. Our grandchildren were growing up too fast and there was too much country between us. Life was too short and precious. This little girl, not quite two years old now, had only been two months old when they arrived. She was so tiny and fragile then. She is full of life and her own opinions now!
They had packed up all they had left after garage sales and Craig’s List ads and packed anything that would fit in and around their three children and two large dogs into just two cars. They made that enormous trek across the country in just four days. After all, they had cooped up two large dogs, and three kids, one of which was an infant. We anxiously waited on the other end of the country, for them to arrive. Dani had been so very little and cuddly. Our older grandchildren had spent years apart from us. We had some catching up to do.
That was a year and a half ago. A bad economy and horrible renters market in our area, coupled with their difficult requirements of such a large family and two large dogs had been grossly underestimated by all of us. We had underestimated the extent of the bad economy in this area and how long it would take to find work, although he found work almost immediately. We underestimated how hard it would be to find an apartment or home to rent in their budget that would take such a large family and dogs. Time passed.
Over the months this little bond had grown. Grampa didn’t go against Mom’s and Dad’s wishes, per se. Grampa was good at misdirection and offering different choices that sound much less like a “no” than what other people offer her. She much prefers his methods to my method of, “Your mom said, No”. I really don’t mind. I don’t mince words and for that, I’m not her favorite. It’s ok, I love seeing their bond.
When Grampa walks through that door, her face lights up like a noonday sunshine, warm and bright. Her arms fly straight up in to the air, and as fast as her little feet can take her she runs to the door. He obliges immediately by picking her up before he has even put his things down. He listens to her not quite two year old babble about who knows what. He and her mom catch several words here and there. Smiles fill the room. She has the ability to brighten everyone’s day. She is captivating already.
It’s a beautiful thing to watch. We love all of our four grandchildren. They all have their personality niche and their close relationships. The older two are very close to their maternal grandmother. But this not quite two year old has a new baby brother now, and I could be in the running to be his favorite person, only time will tell. I may get bumped down a rung or two on “the favorite person in the world” ladder when he realizes I back Mom up, but that’s how I roll. This bond between our not quite two year old and Grampa, though, is beyond heartwarming. It’s why they moved west. It’s why we all work to get along with so many people and pets in one house. Family matters. Family matters to all of us. It is the best part of all that life has to offer.
These relationships and memories will remain long after Grampa and I are gone. This one little almost two year old will remember Papa, her favorite person in the whole world and this special time in her life. It will shape who she becomes because she was loved so much, because someone always dropped everything just for her. We may not be the best grandparents, but to a nearly two year old, Papa is the world.
By Vicki L. Pugliese