Bubbe Report

Bubbe Report

Many years ago, my daughter Isabel, then aged 3, fascinated me and her father by telling a visitor, “We need to speak privately,” and escorting her into a back room. “Whatever did you talk about?” we wanted to know. “Flashlights,” the visitor answered, to general amusement.

I didn’t see Grainne for about 3 weeks this fall—a relatively long time in the life of someone not yet 2 years and 8 months. I was gone, and then she was on a back-country RV trip in Canyonlands and Moab with her parents. When she came back, I was stunned by her developmental leap. Suddenly she was speaking in full sentences, about things we both share and about her private world.

“I missed you!” I exclaimed.
“I missed you, too” she said.
A toddler no longer. We were having an actual, if limited, conversation.

“How was your trip?” I asked.
G. responded: “Rocks. A road. Dinosaurs.” Then added the detail of a child who had been on a motorcycle: “Bumpy.”

She then spent a long—very long by small-child standards—time playing with modeling clay. I just listened.

As she modeled, she said: “Apple pie! Add a little bit. A tiny bit. A BIG apple. For you.” Then quiet, and a turn of topic: “Robots. It’s good I caught them…” Then, back to pie.

But language isn’t everything.

Sometimes I wonder if being a parent isn’t a bit about unrequited love. Children do love us, often madly, but it is necessity, for survival. Parents don’t always love their children, but if we are lucky enough to then that love can be tinged with the awareness that they will be leaving and outgrowing our care. Even more so as a grandmother. I’m only temporarily in her life and she won’t need me this way forever.

So I was beyond gratified to have G. look up from her clay and suddenly rush towards me, saying “time for a hug.”

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