One Button At A Time

There Are The Ones We Push, The Ones That Hold Everything Together, And The Ones We Replace.

“The simplest toy, one which even the youngest child can operate, is called a grandparent.”  Sam Levenson

I dug into my old sewing basket that sits on top of the washing machine and resurrected seventeen distinctive yet exclusive buttons. 

I dumped them into one of two small bowls which I set on the counter side by side. 

This was the first of many distractions I would exploit for the next few weeks while watching my three granddaughters. I told them every night after dinner, we would move one button from one bowl to the other, and when all the buttons were gone, their parents would be home.

Brilliant, I know.

Of course, they secretly try to move extra buttons every day in the hopes this would speed up their parent’s return, but life doesn’t work that way. 

It happens one button at a time.

Welcome, fellow grandparents and greats, aunties and uncles, cousins and friends, to the wild and unpredictable adventure of watching one’s children’s children for seventeen days! Not that I’m counting. 

What I want to know is, when did I become double-chinned? I had to ask myself after inspecting several images I found unexpectedly on my iPhone one night. I thought the image of an old lady loading the dishwasher had to be someone else, then there was a close-up of the oven, a renegade ant, and what appears to be mold from the shower. What the hell?

Watching the grandkids has been as challenging as riding in tandem with Larry because he still thinks of me as the stoker instead of the captain. And, as you can imagine, he enjoys being reminded, repeatedly, that when it comes to the grandchildren, I’m steering the ship. He does not docilely acquiesce, but he’ll have to don his big boy underwear because I have other things to worry about. 

And then you throw in my daughter Kelley (who refers to herself as the clutch), admittedly she was part of the emergency backup plan (because my daughter Julie is an over-achiever and decided last minute to fly in her sister ~ and can we all say a collective Amen). I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention our diligent Uncle Dante (who has thrown in his support willingly or not), who not only reads with Audrey but helps with her math, which is suddenly beyond my skill set. This is our hazmat team, and we have some hilarious escapades to share. 

For those of you who don’t get queasy at the sight of blood, a schedule that would challenge NASA or mismatched shoes, please feel free to read on or just drop down to the sugary summary. 

I realize now that my initial intentions have not materialized, and although those intentions were admittedly ambitious, they were also self-serving. It was my hope the children would have so much fun with their grandparents, Kiki (their name for Kelley), and Uncle Dante that they wouldn’t be homesick for their parents, and they would remember these few weeks fondly for the rest of their lives. 

Well, they might remember these few weeks for the rest of their lives, but fondly could be a stretch, and they desperately miss their parents. I do too!

On the other hand, I’ll never forget mornings watching them rock out to This Girl Is On Fire in the kitchen and how quickly I became enamored with the words. “Looks like a girl, but she’s a flame, so bright, she can burn your eyes, better look the other way” Kiki joined the impromptu dancing queens, and let me just say I’ve never seen anything like it. I attached the song at the end of the post. Go ahead, dance in the kitchen as if you’re on fire, I’m sure no one is watching. 

I have become the unauthorized treat queen, designer of counting red cars on the way to school (our current record is 38), and expert bath monitor. Thank God I thought to buy designer bandaids, fruit roll-ups, and three spanking new jump ropes as part of my memory-making plans pre-parental escape. Clearly, my most important task is hugs and kisses, but when you stub your toe jumping rope, there is nothing more healing than a floral bandaid and a sugary treat.

Perpetual Motion

Remember the days when Larry and I could binge-watch our favorite Netflix series or take a leisurely stroll to our favorite breakfast joint before a brisk walk around the park? Well, those days are long gone! Our grandkids are in perpetual motion. They would put the Energizer Bunny to shame. I’ve discovered that they have secret reserves of energy, and just when I’m flashing “low battery,” will shut down if I do not plug in, it’s as if my sheer exhaustion gives them an unexpected jolt. It defies all logic. 

One minute, they’re innocently coloring at the table, and the next, they’re doing cartwheels across the kitchen floor. And let’s not forget their uncanny ability to transform the entire living room into a hot lava game where your feet are not allowed to touch the floor. 

“Grammie, jump on the pillow, or you’ll be burned alive.” 

“Oh, you don’t have to worry, if you’re drinking a glass of wine, you’re exempt.”

“What’s exempt?”

“Absolved from all liabilities, especially hot lava.” Bahaha 

It’s like living in a constant game of hide-and-seek where the goal is to find the elusive sanity I once had while simultaneously keeping everyone alive. It’s tricky.

The Food Connoisseurs

Okay, I admit, I was not prepared for all the food shenanigans. When did my grandkids become so particular about what they eat? We have a list of acceptable foods left by their parents, but when we scan the list of approved foods for dinner options, they suddenly don’t like anything. The next thing I know, I’m preparing Michelin-starred snacks with cheese, eggs, and toothpicks, the likes of which would impress Anthony Bourdain (may he rest in peace). I’m not kidding. I’ve run to the grocery store every day (sometimes twice), and now I’m haggling with the checkout clerk over the price of eggs like the housewives of Long Island. 

Audrey, “No, Grammie, I only eat peanut butter sandwiches cut into triangles, with the crust removed and a half of sliced apple, but only the red ones, with no skin!” 

Me, “Is cow’s milk okay, or are we drinking some sort of organic oatmeal blend these days?”

“Grammie, I want what you’re drinking.”

“In fifteen years, honey.”

It gets better when they change their minds halfway through the meal and claim I put used too much jelly in between the peanut butter. Is there such a thing? 

The Language Barrier

Sometimes I think my grandkids are speaking a foreign language, especially the twins, and it might be easier if we just used sign language. They have inside jokes that I fail to understand, or they get lost in some sort of imaginary play that has absolutely nothing to do with our current reality, the bathtub has become a haven for lost mermaids, and apparently, mermaids don’t sleep. So I crawl into their bed because Grammie loves to sleep.

“What does ‘bollix’ mean?” you might ask. I tried to google it, but by the time I found the answer, they’d moved on. So now I just nod as if I’m perfectly comfortable deciphering gibberish and know exactly what they’re talking about. It means bungling a task. That’s rich. 

Three Fashionistas

I don’t know about you, but I am not and never have been fashion-forward. I have my own style, and I stick with it day after day. Every morning I make the lunches while Kelley acts like a short-order cook and creates these extraordinary breakfasts, one after the other. Then she hustles them into their rooms to dress. 

Thank God there are several hands on deck because it takes me all morning to cut the crusts off their bread and get their gourmet lunches in the right lunch boxes and then in the right backpacks with the right water bottles. Filled, not empty, by the way. I do have a graduate degree which is absolutely no help.

They enjoy selecting their own outfits. If anything, my grandkids are here to remind me that fashion has taken a sharp left turn into a new and unfamiliar realm. Sienna prefers whimsical dresses with shorts underneath, whereas Cora, who has a unicorn fetish, likes these images not only her shirt and shorts but her socks. 

And then there is Audrey, who is a wannabe fashionista.

She says, “Grammie, my friend is bringing me a matching shirt to wear today so we can be twins.”

Me, “Does it show your belly?”

“No, it’s her older sister’s shirt, so it’ll be big on me.”

That’s a worry, “okay, wear a tank top underneath.”

I get the look. Is she related to Larry or what? 

Cora made me a glittery tiara the other day with faded rose petals taped to the base and insisted I wear it to the grocery store. The clerk gave me an extra discount on the wine.  

The Wisewomen

There has been a lot of mayhem and laughter. I’m ever so thankful that Kelley and Dante are here, they are the difference between absolute chaos and blissful success. Kelley leaves early next week, and I’m already fretting. 

One of the things I love the most is the exchange of wisdom that only happens between the generations. 

Cora says, “Grammie, take my hand, it’s easier to walk.” And I still don’t know if she means me or her.

Sienna tells me about swim lessons, “If you relax, you float, if you are stiff, you sink.” That should be taught in school.

Audrey informs me, “Momma lets me stay up an extra hour, so I have time to think.” I do the same damn thing. 

I’m continually amazed at the new perspectives and, yes, the life lessons my grandkids bring into my world. They want to borrow my glasses so they can see the world as I see it. Then they tell me it’s blurry. When I try and see the world through their eyes, they remind me to embrace silliness, dance as if I’m on fire, and find joy in the simple things like floral bandaids, lollipops, and jump ropes. 

Maybe growing up doesn’t have to mean growing old. I’m discovering that the very old and the very young have something in common, we don’t care what other people think, and if we want to wear our shirts backward, count the red cars on the way to school, and wear our crowns to the grocery store, then we do. And we do it with pizzazz. It is good and right that we should be left alone together, but let’s hope their parents don’t decide to stay another week. 

Because I believe I’ve run out of buttons… 

I’m Living in the Gap, this girl might be exempt, but I’m burning to join you in the comments.

PS My mom used to watch my kids every three years for a week when Larry and I escaped to Hawaii. Now I wish I could thank her all the more profusely.

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    1. They are always in perpetual motion and full of laughter and mischief. I haven’t laughed this much in years, or gone to bed so early, and I can’t stop counting red cars! I think I’ll sleep for a week when their parents return. Or possibly, Larry will whisk me away to some exocitic island? Thanks for the good wishes, I need every one I can get! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  1. All of this was fun, fun, fun…and your glib one-liner here, describing Audrey: “I get the look. Is she related to Larry or what?” Enjoy…keep moving those buttons! 😉🥰😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Victoria, so far we’re all surviving (if not thriving), and that has become my new goal. I’m excited because tonight Larry has decided we need a night out and he’s taking us all out to dinner at the local Mexican restaurant. I’m thinking no dishes, no cooking, no cutting the crust off the sour dough loaf, and maybe there might me a margarita in my future! It’s been a full week, full of new discoveries (mostly about myself), and unexpected adventures ~ one damn button at a time. Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah one of my favourite quotes – “Grandchildren accept us for ourselves without rebuke or effort to change us, as no-one in our entire lives has ever done, not our parents, siblings, spouses, friends and hardle ever our own grown children”. Your grandkids sound a hoot, enjoy them as much as you can!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, thank you Fraggle, that is a wonderful quote because it’s so true! I might be exhausted but I’ve never had so much fun in a long time. Who knew I could still jump rope, or dance like a rock star, and make enough peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for an entire village. I can’t imagine loving anything more. Hugs my friend, C

      Liked by 1 person

    1. How is that possible? You are a hockey mom of two! I have to say young kids are sort of nonstop motion and need. Larry and I are settling quite nicely into the peace and quiet of retirement and this has been an adjustment to say the least. I can’t imagine doing this full time even though we did it only a few decades ago. Maybe they don’t make bodies like they used to? Mine tires quite easily these days. I might need a new main frame or router? Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You must have overlooked rule 867.39, which clearly states, “At no time shall a glass of wine be used to avoid hot lava.” Meanwhile, where did I put my dancing shoes? After all, The Girl is on Fire.😊

    Our son gets married in two and a half weeks. Is it too early to turn their spare bedroom into a nursery? Would that be too presumptuous? 🤣 I’m all in for when it comes to future grandkids.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have failed the hot lava game repeatedly and yet they keep insisting I play even though I regularly change the rules to benefit me. I have to say I’m amazed at all the songs they know by heart and enjoy dancing to at all hours of the day. I’m now a huge fan of Alicia Keys! Who knew? And this is my advice about the nursery. I pulled our old crib out of the rafters when our first grand baby was born, dusted it off, and set it up. They refused to use it because it wasn’t up to current code. We dumped it and bought a Graco travel sleeper for the babies, then I turned the entire room into a mermaid haven (we have three wannabe mermaids) It is never too early to set up the nursery and give those newlyweds a little push! Grand kids are the best! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love love live this post. Laughed hysterically at “I do have a graduate degree which is absolutely no help.” And the inter-generational wisdom and seeing through each others’s – that is heart -stoppingly good. Love this and love you, Cheryl!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wynne, you always put the biggest smile on my face. The entire time I was writing this post I was thinking of you and how you do this all the time and your energy seems endless. The thing is everything you have earned academically doesn’t hold a candle to the education earned while raising kids. Parents should have their own special title like doctors but slightly higher! Your honor is taken, and so is princess and queen. Maybe we highjack Saint? Love you Wynne, hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Maybe highjack Saint? I love it, Cheryl! And grandparents willing to fill in for 17 days need an extra special title. Maybe “Saint Squared?”

        I regularly run out of energy in the hour before my kids go to bed. It’s so strange though – as soon as their lights are out, I rebound! 🙂

        And you always bring a huge smile to my face! Sending huge appreciation for you!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Such a heartwarming and relatable post! Being a grandparent is an adventure of its own, and this article beautifully captures the joys and challenges of watching one’s grandchildren.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awe, thank you for the sweet comment, for taking the time to read, and engage. You are so right, being a grandparent is an adventure! Of course it feels a little like riding a roller coaster and when you come to the end of the ride, you can’t wait for another go! Hugs, C


  6. This is so entertaining, Cheryl! We don’t have grandkids yet, but I sure enjoyed reading about your granddaughters. I love how you poured wine into the story. Sienna’s swim lesson quote could be metaphorical for life. The quotes from Cora and Audrey cracked me up about being able to walk easier and having time to think. I’m sure their energy is exhausting even though they’re adorable and you love them so much. We’ll find out someday. So, there’s a reason why most parents start families in their 20’s or 30’s. Our energy tanks are supposed to run without needing to be recharged. 🙂 Anyway, loved the post. Thanks for bringing smiles to my day, and I hope you get a nap! Cheers! 💞🥂😁

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Lauren! Thank you for your kind words, for taking the time to read, and share you observations. We have finished the first week and still have a week and a half to go. It’s been a startling shift in our regular schedule but I know we’ll miss the routines we’ve established when their parents return. My daughter Kelley is thinking about extending her stay because she’s worried that Larry and I won’t be able to do it alone. Bahaha. We did raise four kids but as you say, we in our 20’s and 30’s, full of energy, and endurance. I’m thrilled to have been the source of your smiles and laughter! That was my hope. Cheers Lauren. Much love and hugs to you, C


  7. I loved everything about your post and I hope to have grandkids someday. I’m jealous of the dancing, the snuggling, the picky eaters — all of it. Now I have to tell you about the Button Game. It was passed down from my mom’s side of the family. You need to tie sturdy yarn, dental floss or shoe laces so the button is on one end and there’s a long string to pull. One button per player. On a piece of fabric, trace a large lid to a pot in the center with chalk or marker and put in middle of a table. You need dice. Every time a 7 or 11 is thrown the person slams the lid on the circle, trying to trap the buttons, while the string holders try to pull their buttons out before the lid traps them. FYI, the dice thrower controls the lid. The lid smasher also tries to trick people into pulling out the buttons without a 7 or 11. You can figure out points for all of it. Warning, it can get violent. 😂😂😂


    1. I love the button game! What a fun memory. You described it perfectly! We’re going to trying it this weekend! I’ll let you know how it goes. Thanks for your kind words and sharing the button game! Enjoy your weekend. Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Dorothy, what a great observation, “young children naturally live in the moment, no past or future to mess up their experience of now.” That’s so true. When I want to dance in the middle of Safeway my fear of judgement and reprisal will definitely inhibit my behavior whereas children just go with what they feel in the moment. It’s so refreshing. Thank you for jumping fearlessly into the conversation! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I love the photo of you and your grandchildren.
    I think what I like best about it all is the words of wisdom from your grandchildren, even if it wasn’t meant to be.

    “If you relax, you float. If you are stiff, you sink.”
    Also, allowing your granddaughter to stay up for an hour to think. I feel ya, sister.

    They are lucky to have you. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Louise, I do love the wise and wonderful things kids say, but sometimes I’m just trying to get dinner on the table, or get them all to school and I miss the good stuff because I’m not listening. It has been an eyeopening week. I’m not really doing so much but I’m exhausted. It seems as if you are required to make about 10,000 extra decisions daily when children are involved. Thanks so much for reading and joining in the conversation. It’s my favorite thing about writing. Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I get exhausted being around kids for more than a few minutes, I have so much respect for you for taking care of them for so many days! Feeding kids is a nightmare 😫

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Pooja! Believe me, I’m beyond exhausted, and out of fun dinner options! Their mom and dad return tomorrow! Larry and I are slipping off to the lake for a little relaxation! Thanks for joining me in the comments! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Debby, we are down to two buttons, and I’m as anxious as the kids for their parents to return. Larry and I are slipping off to the lake to repair and restore! We had four kids but it seems like that was a lifetime ago and we absolutely had more energy in our twenties! I’m looking forward to having time to catch up on blogs and spend some quality time writing. Hugs, C


      1. I can well imagine. When my husband’s grandchildren were younger and would come to visit, after they’d leave he’d say the beauty about grandkids is like you rent them. You love and appreciate, but also glad when they go home. Lol ❤ 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  10. “Absolved from all liabilities, especially hot lava.” Oh, C. I HEAR you telling this! Of course, you’re brilliant! Undoubtedly, the trio will remember every blessed button day and memory! You nailed it. You’re the grandma we all want! And I’m so excited about my tiny grands coming. I giggled all the way through this. You just have such a way with words! You have to be utterly exhausted ~yay for the Hazmat team! I’m a twin, btw. She and I DO have our own language and words. Mom wasn’t always happy she couldn’t speak our language. Many days I’m sure she’s relieved to not know. Life is best one button at a time! From fashion to food, to nights thinking and spinning activities~look at you all! You’re seamless in your love for each other! I adore and love you! 💕🥰💛💚🤗

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Karla, I keep finding comments from you all over the blog! This is so much fun. We are down to two buttons and believe me I’m as excited as the kids! We’ve really had a wonderful time together. I’ve learned things about each of my grand daughters that takes time to see and appreciate. They are each so unique and special. What a privilege this has been to spend so much time with them. I forgot how much you cuddle when kids are around. I’ll miss that. Thank you for taking the time to read, to share your lovely thoughts, and love with me. I love you right back, and I’ll be holding you in prayer as you welcome your family into your home this weekend. Enjoy every minute. Much love and hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

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