The Last 10 Days


The last ten days have been the best of our lives. No, we didn't take an exotic trip, and we didn't win a lottery. We've been babysitting our 20-month-old grandson, Bobby, while Kate (Mama) oversaw her kitchen being remodeled (the result of a leak in a recently installed roof. That's a story in and of itself.) The ceiling needed to be repaired, new electrical wiring done, new lighting, and what the heck, since it's going to be torn up anyway, let's throw in a new counter and backsplash. The dust alone would be a major problem, but there was also the possibility of mold. The decision to bring Bobby to Arkansas was a no-brainer.

What were we thinking?

Everyone and everything in the RV were affected somehow by the little guy. We could have stayed in the house, but Bobby knows the RV, and in fact, he knew where he was as soon as he saw it. We figured that he must think of this as a sort of "fun house:" it's small, but everything you could possibly need is here. So many climbable things! Steps, chairs, furniture. Cabinets galore, many of them at his eye-level, begging to be explored. And when it "folds up," (bringing the slides in) well, THAT is really neat.

The impact that one little, 30-pound person could make on our day-to-day was unbelievable! Now there were three of us in the RV; four if you count Victor, our 8-pound lap dog, and the addition of one person affects the whole group, together and individually.

The most that can be said about Victor's relationship with Bobby is that it is symbiotic. He begrudgingly allows Bobby "walk" him with a leash, grab his toys out of mouth without growling, and take his place on our laps without too much of a fuss. In return, Victor gets all of the food Bobby drops on the floor, plus leftovers, too. Theirs is a relationship based on give and take, and it works well.

We are on "winter water," here in our RV. That means we operate off our water tank (as opposed to having a hose connected which would give us unlimited water all the time) and that is controlled by a water pump. Neither Dave nor I could help but chuckle, but just about every time we went to wash our hands or flush the toilet or turn on the shower, we discovered that Bobby had turned off the water pump again. The on/off switch was located at his eye-level, and he always made it a point to turn off the red light. You'd think we would get in the habit of always checking to see that pump was on, but we didn't.

Bobby awoke nearly every day around 5:30am, and naturally wanted some company, evidenced by his calling for Mimi, or Papa, and even one day, Dog (that's what he calls Victor.) Dave and I took turns getting up with him, and while neither of us complained, both of us looked forward to the day we could sleep later.

Bobby always seemed to want something to eat or drink, by asking for "Na-na." "Na-na" could mean anything from bananas to raisins to a drink. Then the game of "Do You Want…..?" began. No doubt he became frustrated at our apparent cluelessness. And if he didn't get na-na fast enough, the volume and pitch of his demands increased. Thankfully, we figured out certain foods he liked and made sure to keep plenty of it at hand. So what if he ate hot dogs every night? Of course, we learned what not to give him in any one 24-hour period, i.e. two boxes of raisins followed by a bowl of kernel corn.

Diapers. Ah, I had forgotten, or at the very least, conveniently forgotten about them. Thank goodness for our stockpile of plastic bags! They served to contain the diaper and its contents, including odor. (And that's all I'm gonna say about THAT.)

Quirks. We discovered that Bobby had several. He would get upset (really upset) when: his sleeves covered his hands; when his feet were covered by his pant legs; when his hands were sticky; his slippers came off. Fast action is required in situations such as these.

Winter in Arkansas is generally mild, but can be wet, and can also be very cold on occasion. We had all of these elements, so when we had a nice, sunny day, we took full advantage of it. Bobby loved riding the 4-wheeler with Papa, gathering rocks and filling his dump truck, throwing rocks off the dock, and helping Dave fill the many bird feeders he put up. We also kept the water tank topped off, as bathing Bobby would deplete the tank by at least one-quarter each day. For some reason, he loves the shower in the RV and bath time lasts at least as long as the hot water does. Hence, the importance of keeping the tank topped off.

Nice days (weather-wise) usually meant field trips. We drove up to Little Rock one day for their Mardi Gras parade. Though extremely short as compared to what we became accustomed to when we lived on the Gulf coast, it had all the elements that mattered: police cars with spinning lights and sirens blaring, horse-drawn carriages, fire engines, and more than enough loot (beads and candy.) Bobby ate his first Tootie Roll that day and enjoyed it immensely. There was also the trip to the Nature Center in Pine Bluff and a trip to Super Wal-Mart in Camden.

We drove into town (Fordyce) just about every other day. Bobby LOVED going to Klappenbach Bakery or parking near the train depot and waiting for trains ("tt"s) to go by. Both were equally exciting. Of course, we just always took those things for granted. But viewing everyday things through the eyes of a toddler sheds a whole new light on whatever might happen to be the subject.

We felt fortunate to be able to help Kate out by keeping Bobby while work was being done on her house. And we also felt truly privileged to spend so much time with the little guy. Both Dave and I have fond memories of our grandparents, so we know what impact a loving, caring "elder" makes. That's why we feel so blessed to be such a big part of Bobby's life!