Two months ago today, my 3-year-old grandboy Owen James and his mama left Iowa for North Carolina because his mama needed her mama.
We didn’t know then if it would be for a week or for a lifetime. As much as I wanted it to be the latter, I knew it would likely be weeks rather than years.
What a gift, these 62 days.
I love my child. I love her child.
This grandson of mine. Oh my.
I love everything about him, even his orneriness. I admire his art of negotiation, except when I’m on the other end of his “Well, how about we…” or “I don’t think so….”
I love (and of course hate) that he won’t do what we grown people ask just because we’re grown people.
“I’m not a child,” he says when we tell him that he is a child and we’re the adults.
When I picked him up from the Y’s day care, I learned he got put in timeout for not listening. While we walked hand-in-hand to the car, I asked why he didn’t listen. His response: “Because sometimes I don’t like to listen.”
Who could argue?
When he emerges from bed rubbing his eyes, weighed down by a soggy Pull-Up, I greet him with, “Good morning, darling boy.” I ask if he wants a little cuddle, which of course I want, and most days he obliges me.
He tells me he loves me.
He tells me he doesn’t like me. The truth is, in those moments, I don’t like me much either.
I love when he asks questions that I can’t answer, like “What if the sun never went down?”
I love the wonderment on his face when he sees something for the first time, like the painted turtle that cut across our yard on its way to a nearby farm pond. I loved how he wanted to touch it. I loved that he was sad when it disappeared into the field.
I loved seeing him see a rainbow. I loved watching his face as he pondered how those little white buds would turn into strawberries. I loved that, fresh out of bed, he wanted to see the purple irises bursting outside the window. I loved sitting in the sand with him on my lap at the ocean, screaming in delight as the waves crashed into us.
I love his literalness, like when I said, “Owen, you smartie pants” and he said, “Pants? I’m not pants!”
I love that he makes friends wherever he goes, whether that’s the waiting room at a doctor’s office or the landscape place where we go for soil.
I love his expressions, like: “Oh my goodness!”
I love watching him with his “Mimi,” my wife, and I love watching my wife with him.
I love listening to him play by himself, paint by himself, talk to himself. I love listening to the stories he makes up. I love when he becomes Batman (or Iron Man) when he dons a mask, and how he tips it up to say, “It’s just me. Owen.”
I loved that he asked, “What are you doing?” one day when his ol’ Nana was both crying and laughing.
I love that he asked a complete stranger to read him a book in the waiting area while I got my haircut — and that the man obliged.
Tomorrow morning we’ll start the trek West to Iowa. He’ll go back to a new home that we’ve yet to find but know is out there. His mom will start a new job, a new chapter in her life. I’ll stay with them to get them settled, and then I’ll come back home.
I tear up thinking about that moment, even though it’s likely a month away–the moment when I come back to a quiet house, a quiet life that I really do treasure, but one that will be missing little socks and shoes and Spiderman shampoo and the energy that only this child can bring.
This wasn’t an easy two months, the four of us under one roof, but oh my god am I grateful for it.