This is November 4th another day in my adventure in babysitting. Kate is not sleeping very well during the day. Her naps have been cat naps. They only last about 30 minutes before she wakes up. When I put her down I try everything to see what might help keep her asleep. Nothing seems to work. The thing is she is sleeping great at night. Last night she slept right through from 7:30 pm until this morning at about 7:30 am. Maybe she just can't stand to stay asleep during the day because she wants to spend all the time she can with me.
Every kids has their own ways. It's just another illustration of how we are all so different. Parents have to be patient and observant to figure out what makes each new child tick. As I say it's an adventure. Actually the same is true for all our relationships...and we never run out of new things to learn about each other. Kate (and all people really) can be a mystery but a fun one to try to explore.
Welcome to the greatest adventure of life...exploring the mystery of those around you. Here is Kate. Does she look tired to you?
~ Love, Poppi
Today is November 3rd another day in my adventure in babysitting. Kate loves to roll over from her back to her front. Most of the time before today she would just lie there and try to get her head off the ground. That's not easy when your head is disproportionally large compared to the rest of your body. Today I think she crossed a line. She is trying to crawl. She struggles to lift her head (all the while sounding off...half groan, half grunt). Then she instinctively moves her legs in a crawling motion. She doesn't make much progress but she is TRYING hard.
Why is life sometimes such a struggle? Almost anything we want to learn or accomplish takes time and often pain and work. I'm still trying to accomplish some things in life that I began to work on years ago. Still trying...but it's easy to give up. I think that God wants us to struggle, even if we never quite get to where we want to go. The struggle itself is a sign of growth. As natural as it is for a baby to try to crawl, all humans are conditioned to growth. It makes life sometimes challenging and frustrating but also filled with adventure and excitement. Poor Kate, she's at a very frustrating part. She sees the toys she wants to get. They are only inches away, but she can't quite get them. The beautiful thing is, she keeps trying. If only her tummy wasn't dragging so much. She'll get there.
A lesson for all of us. I love your moxie kid.
I am reading a book called The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. A great spiritual book about the true meaning of Jesus' message. "Unless you become like little children..." Jesus was trying to tell us something here. Look at the little children. Look at Kate. What can she tell me about being in the kingdom of God? Kate has no agenda, no pride, no prejudices. She doesn't have any grudges or regrets. She doesn't worry about her self image or what people might think about her. She doesn't try to possess things or take more than she needs. She lives simply in the here and now. God can work with that. Right now she is sleeping in my arms, totally dependent, totally vulnerable, just trusting that everything will be well. If I want to have a relationship with The Lord, I will have to learn to be more like her. Cuteness may not be on the list but she has that covered as well.
This is November 1st (what happened to October???) another day in my adventure in babysitting. Kate is on her magic carpet on the floor talking to her friends the stuffed animals and toys that inhabit that world. She loves lying on her side. She'll be a side sleeper when it's safe. I just marvel at the miracle that is Kate. Such a small little bundle of cuteness and promise.
I am currently reading Bruce Springsteen's autobiography Born to Run. I love what he says about his own discovery of the wonder and joy of parenting. "Making life fills you with humility, balls, arrogance, a mighty manliness, confidence, terror, joy, dread, love, a sense of calm and reckless adventure. Isn't anything possible now? If we can populate the world can't we create and shape it? Then reality and diapers and formula and sleepless nights and child seats and yellow custard shit and cream cheese vomit set in. But...oh, these are the blessed needs and fluids of my boy and at the end of each headachy, tiring new world of a day, we are exhausted but exalted by new identities, Mom and Pop!"
I just cleaned up one of those poops this morning and I wouldn't change a thing about her...except her diaper. Phew, what a stinker. Love through it all. Poppi.
Another day in my adventure in babysitting. I am reminded of the musical The Music Man. The words from a song in the musical come to mind... "There's trouble right here in river city." You see Kate is reaching a milestone, several maybe. She is turning over very easily and quickly. And she is holding her head up. As she does this she is checking out her surroundings and eyeing all the things she wants to get. It won't be long before she is crawling and putting everything in sight into her mouth. Sam, watch out for your books and toys, nothing will be safe. If she's anything like her mother she may be a pretty destructive little thing. In some ways I want to keep her in the infant stage, cute and very manageable. But life isn't about staying the same. We grow and change leaving old ways behind. I'll miss the infant Kate but as her father said, "Now's when the fun starts." I think I probably was part of bringing on these changes by all the time and attention I've given her.
I'll love you through all your new adventures, Kate.
You want to know what's really cool? Sometimes Kate gives me a look that is more than just seeing me. It is a knowing look. I have had people say when they see her look at me, "She knows you!" I guess when you spend this much time together that happens. Sometimes her knowing looks communicate. They might say, "Come over here, I need you." or "You've got to be kidding." or "You're funny." or "I like that song." When I think about it, we all want to be known. We want someone to know who we really are and love us. That's the Lord's attitude. He wants all of us to know we are loved. It's a big responsibility and He entrusts it to us. How many people in life can I really know? I believe God gives us opportunities to connect with others. If we are willing to try, we will discover that each person is the pearl of great price. I can't know everyone I meet but I believe there are people out there that are just waiting for me to discover them. Lord give me the patience and insight to get to know those people. Kate thanks for getting to know me. Poppi... She's ready for the Halloween party.
When Kate gets hungry she can't wait until I get the bottle ready to feed her. She leans over in my arms assuming I won't drop her and when the bottle is ready she is so anxious that she starts shaking. I was thinking how she must feel to be totally dependent on others for all of her needs. In our culture we tend to weed that out of our children. We want them to be independent, able to fend for themselves and stand on their own two feet. There is something to be said for this but it hides a deeper truth. We are dependent on others and the sooner we learn to count on others the better off we are. Doing that will make us vulnerable but more human. I have grown a great deal because of my relationship with my family and the men in my support groups. I count on them and I hope they know they can count on me. As far as Kate is concerned, I am trying to help her see that she can count on people to be there. I try to sense her needs and meet them as quickly as possible.
How am I doing Kate?
Well, Kate hit another milestone today. There are some little animals that hang above her when she is on her play area on the floor. One of them, the purple monkey plays a little tune if you pull on it. She always smiles when I pull on it for her. This morning when I was working on my laptop and she was playing I heard the monkey's little tune...twice. She had managed to grab it and pull. I'm not sure if it was accidental or intentional, but I like to think she was cheering for herself inside at what she had accomplished. We all need goals in life even if they are small ones. We need signs of growth that we can celebrate. Kate will be accomplishing lots of things in her life, some that might seem impossible. I am reminded of a poet who once wrote: "Man's reach must exceed his grasp or what's a heaven for?" I am at the point of setting new goals. My babysitting days are numbered. Soon I will be really retired. What new things will I reach for? I am anxious but excited. Holy Spirit be my guide.
Here's Kate and the purple monkey.
Today is October 24th another day in my adventure in babysitting. I like to take Kate in front of the mirror and see how she responds to seeing herself. Over the last couple of weeks she seemed to have recognized me and smile if I cajole her. Today for the first time I think she recognized herself. She was just LOOKING. I think she is beginning to know she is this little person. She will probably spend a lot of time in her life looking at herself in the mirror. I hope she likes what she sees but I hope she learns how to look beneath the surface. I have been working on this. Trying to see beyond the exterior. After all that's what I want people to do for me. I want to look with more wisdom and less judgment. For me that can be a challenge. God grant me the wisdom to see people as You see them.
With Kate that's easy.
I think Kate is a morning person (unlike her mom when she was young). When she wakes in the morning and I go into her room to pick her up, I get the greatest glad-to-see-you-again smile in the world. Check the picture for this morning's version. Beginning the day with a smile can make all the difference in what happens to us during the day. An open and positive attitude will smooth out the rough spots and enable the people we meet to be positive as well.
It is a known fact the people are imitators. They will tend to return a smile for a smile. Over the years as I have walked in the neighborhood I have waved at everyone I saw driving by. Now I get people waving at me from almost every car that passes. How do we encourage our children to be positive? Be positive and they will imitate it. This may take more effort from some people than others but it can become a habit if we work at it. It's contagious.
Keep smiling, Kate.
Poppi's Adventures in Babysitting
Jim Kemna (Poppi) was the Director of Religious Education for the Diocese of Jefferson City, Missouri until he retired at the end of June 2016. Now Jim is becoming an active grandparent. He is babysitting for his one month old granddaughter Katie. Before retirement Jim was responsible for assisting his bishop in promoting the vision of catechesis throughout the diocese. See Meet the Project Team for more information about this author.