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Slices of Life

When life doesn’t go as planned

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Life has not always worked out like I planned. And here’s the thing – the more unplanned it becomes the more I learn, the more I grow – and trust. The better everything becomes. I haven’t always embraced this concept. What can I say? I have control issues. But the more you try to harness control, the less you have of it. Illogical, but true – trust me.

My latest lesson involves my granddaughter. Isn’t that fitting? A newbie human teaching an older human new tricks. You’ve got to love the irony. I know I do. 

It started with an unfortunate situation as many life changes do. She started at a new daycare and had a few bad experiences in the first week; the last of them being a bump to the head. We were devastated, our daughter and son-in-law doubly so. We witnessed our 16-month old granddaughter’s personality change in ways we couldn’t have previously imagined. She went from being a feisty, confident toddler to a fearful, clingy, crying, sad little girl. I saw it with my own eyes and I knew something had to give. 

I never set out to be a daycare grandma. I did my time in the trenches with my own four children, and while it was wonderful and worthwhile, I figured I was done. Ready to be done. But then life happened and my granddaughter needed a safe place to go during the day. My husband and I were crushed by her situation and the way the circumstances had altered her personality. “We can take her,” he said.

I wasn’t so sure. I work from home. I have responsibilities. I was worried about over-extending.

“We’ve got this,” he said. “If you are busy, I’ve got this.”

Over the years I’ve learned to trust his judgment. The first day she arrived whimpering. She didn’t want to stay. She asked for “mama” and “dada” repeatedly. After about half an hour, she calmed down. By the third day, the whimpering was gone. We had to distract her while mom left for work. On the eighth day she waved to mommy and said “bye-bye.” Within two weeks, we’ve watched her go from fearful to fearless. And that, as they say, is priceless.

She’s grown to love each of her three uncles and says two of their names clearly. She plays a pointing game with the other uncle. She calls my husband “papa” and worries when he leaves the room: “Papa?” She doesn’t have a name for me – yet, but that’s not a concern. She is silly. Her personality has returned. Her love is palpable, along with effect she’s had on the household.

So there you have it. My husband and I never would have become daycare grandparents by choice, but it was something that was meant to be. I believe that now. Our house is alive again. Alive and messy and loud with giggles and squeals of contentment and a dollop or two of scrambled eggs on the floor. We wouldn’t have it any other way. Even if it wasn’t by choice. Because that’s life; and life can be wonderful if you let it be.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.

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