New Years Eve With a Cute Redhead

JJThis New Year’s Eve most of our adult kids were out for the evening — and no wonder we weren’t asked to join them. After all, it was a great night for a sleepover with four of our Little People. After dinner out with our oldest daughter, Jaime, and her family we took the littles home and tucked them in. JJ, age seven, learned over dinner that his cousin, Wyatt (also seven), would be staying up till midnight with his parents and sisters.

“Granma,” he said, looking up at me with tender greenish eyes that match perfectly with his red hair, “can I stay up late, too?”

What’s a Granma to do? Say yes, of course! The only problem was his two younger sisters were determined they would all sleep in the same room and go to bed at the same time.

“How ’bout if you lay down until your sisters fall asleep, then sneak out quietly to join Granma and Papa in the family room?” I offered.

The tired little girls fell asleep in record time and before long a little boy wearing only underwear under his new Auburn Tigers blanket climbed onto the recliner with Granma. Forget the movie Benny and I were watching. There was an adorable little redhead cuddling with me that wanted to talk. As I sat stroking his hair I couldn’t help but remember similar moments with his daddy. Replace the red hair with blonde, the green-blue eyes with sky blue and erase the freckles and you’ll know why Joshua Junior (JJ) is the perfect name for this little man.

Yet before long I will be looking up to him. Yes, it will happen faster than I think. I learned that from his father. He’s already getting lanky and calling guys “Dude.” It’s just a matter of time before I hear he’s got a crush on a girl or he’s wanting to show me his just-acquired driver’s license.

Getting old is hard in many ways. Sometimes I feel frumpy and unattractive. I can’t keep as many plates spinning as I used to. I can too frequently describe people to a tee but can’t remember their names. I ask Benny to hand me that…um…”metal thing with rounded spokes that I use to stir things fast when I don’t want to get out the mixer” before the word whisk meanders into my brain . Aches and pains linger and sleep evades.

But aging has some amazing perks. I get to play duck, duck goose and Candy Land again. Make bubble baths and convince little ones it’s time to get out when little fingertips get wrinkled. Listen to slowly spoken words of new readers who couldn’t wait to show Granma how smart they are. Get to use the small wooden table and chairs that still bear paint marks and scratches put there by their mommies and daddies. Pray for young hearts to be softened to their need for a Savior.

And snuggle with an underwear clad, freckle faced boy who thinks hanging out with Granma on New Years Eve is cool.

How many years will it be till spending time with friends means less time with me? When will he stop offering to talk about whatever comes to mind and make me work hard to ask just the right question to unlock his thoughts? Will he someday find time at Granma’s something he’s expected to do rather than gets to do?

Until these questions are answered I will just enjoy the gift of having Little People in my life.

I sure am happy I can still remember their names.

Grandkids Christmas 2012

My Little People

Kayla, Wyatt, Annie, Danae, JJ, Elsie, Ellie, Sam, Issac, Josiah and Amelia: I’m looking forward to another year of snuggles. And I’m hoping that Granma’s is a place you’ll always want to come. Even when you’re big, no longer want to take bubble baths with your cousins, and would rather be just about anywhere else but my house on New Years Eve, I want you to know that time with you is pretty much my favorite thing to do.

Well, except for getaways with Papa.

6 + 5 = She Changed my Life

Who wouldn’t fall in love?

Granma doesn’t have many rules but there’s one really important one: my Little People aren’t allowed to get older than 6. I’m unapologetically unwilling to make even one exception.

So today my firstborn Little Person turns 6 + 5.

Little Fairy Princess

July 19, 2001 was a birth day for me, too. It’s the day the Granma in me was born. Before then I was Princess to my Daddy; Sheree (pronounced wrongly quite a bit) to most others; Honey to Benny; and Mom to my seven J’s. But a new “me” was born when Kayla Sheree rushed into my world.

Watching my girl have a baby girl was breathtaking. Kayla made her entrance in a room of family members eager to welcome the first in a new generation.  That day she didn’t have to steal my heart. I gladly handed it to her. This tiny little person immediately clutched my heart till I thought it would burst with love. I had wondered for months how it would feel. Would it feel similarly to the seven times eager arms had held my own newborns? Or would it take some time to fall in love with someone to whom I didn’t give birth? I had been a birth assistant numerous times and felt a sweet bond with the little ones I watched come into the world. Would the warmth in my heart feel like that…or different?

That sweet smile remains…almost all the time.

Even today she loves being “Sissy”

I don’t remember answering those questions. I didn’t have to. I realized I loved her that first night I learned from surprised parents that she was coming; loved her more when I saw her tiny body on the sonogram screen; loved her again for being used by God to remind my daughter of what she wanted to be more than anything; loved that my Jaime Sheree wanted to pass along my name to the next generation; loved her with intense anticipation as I coached Jaime through contractions and assured her she would be worth it all. And then loved her all the more when I held her in my arms that first time. Because of her I had a new name.

I chose Granma because I wanted a “real” Grandmother name that didn’t sound anything close to Nannie. You see, no one could ever replace her. When my kids saw my mother, there was a sparkle in their eyes I only saw then. Nannie was the object of special love from my seven J’s. So I would be Granma and no one could compare me to “the best grandmother EVER!”

There’s that smile!

Watching her grow up has been so much fun! One of the perks of being Granma is that I get to experience all the delicious joy with none of the weighty responsibilities! From birth Kayla has been smiley and pleasant. A “starter baby.” I warned Jaime not to expect future babies to be so easy. She later thanked me for the warning. Smile.

The best thing Kayla did for me is bring light into several years of darkness. The years preceding her birth were hard ones for our family, culminating in the sudden death of Mom and Nannie in July 2000. Her birth almost one year later to the day reminded me that joy really does come in the morning. After she was born there was something to look forward to each day. Even when I didn’t see her, I got to ask, talk,think and journal about her. Pray for and anticipate seeing her. Hold, rock and sing to her.

She made me smile and laugh and hope again.

I will never forget the day she ran to me for the first time.  It was the fall of 2002 and she was 16 months old. I was standing in our church lobby on a Sunday morning when I saw Jaime out of the corner of my eye. Momentarily, I heard that sweet little voice and looked down. From across the room I saw her trotting toward me with arms extended. And it was there! The sparkle! Could it be that she loved me like my children loved Nannie?

And so I loved her again.

Such a great big sister to Wyatt, Annie and “Nae Nae”

She keeps doing that to me. How can love keep growing like this? I love her for caring so deeply for others; working hard to help Mommy at home; spontaneously squeezing and kissing her little sister or calling Wyatt her “buddy”; getting excited about babysitting lots of nieces and nephews (and not just when Uncle Josh gives her money); thanking me over and over for “letting” her come over to help me clean; opening up to her mom about things she hasn’t yet realized most kids don’t talk to their parents about; kissing and hugging me at least 3 times before we leave; making me notes that tell me I’m the best Granma ever; standing next to me each Sunday morning so we can worship and hug; and exclaiming that she just had “the best day” of her life whenever we do anything special together.

She’s becoming a young lady way too quickly!

Does it sound like I’m pretty self-aware when it comes to her? LIke it’s all about what she does for me and how she has enriched my life and makes me feel special?

Her laugh still lights up my world.

Hmmmm. I think you might be onto something. One man said grandchildren are great because they are born with an understanding that their grandparents are far more wonderful and smart than their mom and dad ever realized. I’m sure part of why I adore Kayla is because she thinks I can do no wrong. (Like the day she asked why I had been crying and I told her it was because I had been asking the Lord to forgive me of some sin.  “Granma, you don’t sin!!!!” she confidently exclaimed.) Or maybe because she rescued me from a long season of heartache and sadness, so I’ve become overly focused on how my life has been enriched by her.

Becoming Granma ten more times to the Little People who have followed her so far has created explosion after explosion in my aging heart of fresh love for those with whom, by God’s saving grace, I will spent eternity. I regularly remind myself that they will become the grandparents of those I will not meet until That day.

No; being Granma isn’t about me but about spending myself to leave a legacy of godly womanhood for little girls to follow and little boys to look for when it’s time.

Recently she asked if I was planning to take her to Tea for her birthday this year. (Like her mother, I have to remember to think before I do anything with her because if she has fun it will likely have to become “a tradition.”) I asked how long she expected us to do this each year.

“Till I’m 6 + 100!” Looks like she and I will be having tea in heaven. What fun that will be!

But for now it’s time to get dressed for a birthday tea with 6 + 5.