Monday, July 1, 2019

From the Mouths of Babes - Avoiding Divorce

(Sorry you can't see her cuteness from the front, but she's in the 
Baby Protection Program)

During the school year, I am the Monday morning babysitter for my almost two year old granddaughter.  It's probably my most favorite job.  Grandbaby is really into trust falls right now. You know what those are:  they are when you go to the edge of a ledge, or you collapse backwards and simply fall, trusting that there is someone there to catch you so you don't hurt yourself.  Secure children do it effortlessly.  Once we become adults, we have to go to team building retreats to learn how to do it all over again.  But I digress.

Grandbaby climbs up on her ledge.  She looks me straight in the eye.  She gets the biggest smile on her face, you know, the kind that goes all the way up your eyes.  Then she falls.  She knows I'm going to catch her.  There is not a doubt in her mind that's what Grandma is going to do - again and again.  In fact, she's positive I will never let her fall.  Thank goodness I still have good reflexes!  Grandbaby's trust falls have a lot to teach us about how to stay out of the Trenches.  You know what they say about the mouthes of babes...... As I reflect on it, I have 5 main lessons:

1.  Pay attention.  When I am with Grandbaby, my phone is in my bag.  It is not in my hand (unless I'm taking a picture of her cuteness!).  It is not on the chair next to me.  It is not in my back pocket.  When I am with Grandbaby, I am WITH Grandbaby.  She is my entire focus for the 3 hours before the other grandma comes.  I understand I am only with her one day a week, but how many of you make your spouse your entire focus for even 30 minutes one day a week?  Not many, I bet.  I know you're tired at the end of the day and really just want to vege out, but paying attention is important.  It  keeps the relationship moving and it builds trust.

2.  Be where they are.  When I'm with Grandbaby, I am not thinking about what I want to do.  I am focused on what she wants.  Trust me, no sane adult wants to build a tower and have it knocked down a zillion times, or play which stuffed animal gets to be in the crib with baby and which ones have to sit in the chair. That's what she wants to do, and so that's what we do.  I am showing an interest in what she wants without expecting her to do the same for me (even if she could at this age).  I never let her know that the zillionth tower is any less exciting than the first.   I know, listening to your spouse drone on about a topic that interests you not at all is hard, but we all know when people aren't really listening to us; try really listening and see what happens.  Every once in a while do an activity you don't love but your spouse does (and do not let your spouse know how much you hate it and are just doing it for them).

3.  Be predictable.  I don't mean be boring.  When Grandma comes in the morning, she brings pancakes.  Every time.  In fact, I am so predictable on this that when I babysat at night, Grandbaby pointed to my bag and said "cake, cakes." When the other grandma comes, Grandbaby expects different things from her.  She feels secure because she knows she can count on us for certain things.  It's not many things, but they're important to her.  Children aren't the only ones who need predictability.  Adults need to know that if you say you're going to be home at 6, then you're at home at six.  When you say you'll mow the lawn, paint the room, do the laundry, that you'll actually do them and don't have to be nagged.  Don't let your predictability be that you don't do what you say - it's a sure relationship killer.

4.  Let them know the relationship is important.  Do you really want to be known for always missing milestone occasions?  I get it, the greeting card industry is a racket, but I'm not talking about buying a card.  Unless a judge or a doctor absolutely cannot accommodate me (and that is rare because being with Grandbaby is a priority) or I'm sick, which unfortunately has happened a bit more than I'd like, I am there on Monday.  Is it a pain to get up at 5am so I can be at Grandbaby's home before 7?  You betcha.  Is it deadly when I had an event that ended late the night before? Oh yes.  I am, however, there.  How canyon let your spouse know they're important to you?

5.  You can't downplay the value of touch and laughter.  Grandbaby gets lots of huggles.  We hold hands a lot.  I pick her up and carry her.  She gets "zerbets" on her tummy.  We giggle and laugh (as do the school crossing guards who watch us running down the street, counting trees). Truth be told, I love my huggles too.  Human beings need touch.  They need laughter.  Life is hard.  Days are long. Children are tiring.  I get it.  When was the last time you and your spouse touched?  I am not talking about sex or foreplay.  I am talking about holding hands, touching a hand or a shoulder, giving a hug. Touch without expectation of anything else is magical.  When life gets in the way, sometimes that gets put to the side; and the relationship suffers.

Will following all of these lessons from Mondays with Grandbaby keep you out of the Trenches?  Maybe.  Not following any of them, however, will bring you to my door.  Here in the Trenches.

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