Today was a special day for my youngest granddaughter, Emma. We celebrated her fifth birthday with a small family party for her and a cousin who is turning six this week. As I watched her opening her gifts, I had mixed emotions. She is growing up!
I have watched all three of my grandchildren for the past eight and a half years while their parents are at work. Alivia and Luke were born only ten months apart, and most days I rocked both babies to sleep in my arms in my comfy old rocking chair, and held them while they napped. For the first two years of Emma’s life, I tended them all down at my son’s house. The daily schedule then was a little crazy, as Alivia and Luke had to be taken to preschool each morning and picked up at lunchtime. For a sixty-year old Grandma, getting two preschoolers to school and back while carrying an infant along was no easy feat. Nap time for the three of them was also nap time for Grandma.
Caring for these little ones has been important to me. All of us have had peace of mind, knowing that they were being cared for by someone who loved them and for whom they were a priority. My bond with each of them is deep and loving, and there is not a moment when I have regretted the choice to spend my days with them. As this school year draws to a close, I am increasingly aware that Emma, the “baby”, will be in full day kindergarten next year. While I look forward to having six hours to myself between school drop-offs and pick-ups, there is a part of me that is also sad to see my little Emma stepping out into the larger world of elementary school.
As I searched for a birthday gift for Emma, I was drawn to a book, LLAMA LLAMA GRAM AND GRANDPA, by Anna Dewdney. Nearby on the shelf was a small stuffed llama, dressed in red pajamas, who is the main character in each book of the LLAMA LLAMA series. I love these books, which quietly address some of the inner fears of children, as the little llama faces everyday situations. All of my grandchildren love books, and I have spent many hours reading to them, and buying them books which seemed particularly appropriate for each of them. I bought the book and the stuffed llama for Emma’s birthday.
This is not merely a gift for Emma, however; it is also a gift for my treasury of memories. When Emma was younger, at nap time she would choose three books; I would lie down beside her on her bed and read the three books. Then, I would rub her back and sing to her as she drifted off to sleep. One of her favorite books was Llama Llama Red Pajama, and we read it until I could almost recite it by heart. Those were sweet days for me; somehow, this new book with its little llama, is the perfect gift for both of us, as my little Emma leaves the shelter of my arms and begins this new chapter in her life next year.