April 10, I went and picked up my three grandchildren: Mr. A. a three year old, Mr. M a two year old, and Ms. L a ten month old infant. All three wear diapers, are very vocal, but not verbal. They were upset, unsure, afraid and angry. They did not know what was happening to their world, and a strange person was taking them to someplace they were not sure they knew.
I was not ready for three small children. The spare room was full of items we were storing while working on remodeling the master bedroom and bath. The morning we arrived to Granny’s Farm, we all slept in my bed, crowded but everyone slept, but Granny. The crib was in the storage shed. The house was not childproofed, there were dangerous things at ground level little hands could reach. No high chair for an infant, or safe play area for her to play while taking care of brothers or cooking a meal.
The two oldest children were angry, especially Mr. M. My son told me that they were having problems with Mr. M being angry all the time. Well, considering the mental state of their mother, and what the children must have been experiencing before she tried to commit suicide with them in the car. I could understand the anger.
Mr. M would get angry, lay on the floor screaming and kicking his feet. Or he might run to a room, close the door and start hitting himself with a toy or biting himself on the arm or hand. How does a person handle such anger? I simply picked him up and hugged him close. Not saying a word, just snuggling with him until his screams stopped and he snuggled down quietly.
Mr. A was the opposite. I would call his name, and he would hide under tables, chairs and behind curtains. He wanted to disappear and not be found.
The baby, Ms. L, seamed to enjoy the time she was with me and family. Her play area was made in the center of the living room, the place where we gathered to talk, play and watch television.
Everyone ate at the dinning room table. Meals times are on a set schedule, with everyone at the table including Ms. L in her highchair. Snack times are the same, everyone goes to the table and we eat together.
There is outdoor time of playing in the yards. One in front, after I removed all the things that could hurt a child. And one in the back after I hired some help, and they put up sheep panels around to prevent them from going to the pens of the horses and sheep and getting hurt. Two safe areas of play to explore outside everyday.
Twice a day they go out for chores. Yes, doing chores takes twice as long as little legs do not make large steps as I do. But they enjoy the animals. Running with the puppies when they are let out each morning for all day. And petting the adult dogs when they are let out each evening. Seeing the sheep and petting the muzzles of the horses. Ms. L goes along to as I purchased a stroller wagon. She is able to sit, strapped in, and be pushed along the way to meet the animals and watch the excitement of puppies, with a short visit from them.
The anger has gone away. Mr. M loves the animals and has learned that even though things are different, and he is told “No”, this is not a bad place to be. His waking screaming in the night has stopped, he sleeps through the night, resting from a busy day.
Mr. A is no longer hiding under the table or behind a curtain, he is on the couch to watch the movie, a constant shadow and helper when it is chore time. Laughing hard as he runs with the puppies. He smiles as he loves on our large male Livestock Guard Dog, Bruno. Bruno and Mr. A see each other eye to eye. Bruno and Mr. A, walk around with Mr. A’s hand on Bruno’s shoulder checking out the yard to make sure it is safe for the sheep before the sheep are turned out to graze.
They have learned not to enter the pens unless an adult is with them. There are places and equipment they can not climb on. Not because we do not want them there, but because they understand we do not want them hurt.
Mealtimes are fun times. Each meal starts with pray. The food was very different from what they were used to as Granny cooks differently than their mom. They understand the rule of one bite of everything is required. And there are always seconds and thirds of the things you like. A few times each week, there is dessert that Granny has made, “Yum Yum” as they say. Learning to say words and laughing at Papaw’s words. We take our time to eat, there is no rush. We eat, talk and laugh.
There is more smiles than sadness or tears. We have learned fighting is not allowed, as Granny takes the toys away and they have to sit in chairs. Instead we learn the words “share” and “take turns” to get along during the day.
No more fighting to not go to bed. The run to the bedroom, sometimes they just walk as they are too tired to run. Granny places their toy, special blanket from home, give hugs and kisses, then tucks them into bed with the words, “I love you, sleep well”. Papaw takes his turn with hugs and kisses and “I love you.” They know in the morning Granny will be there to hug them, kiss them, get them breakfast and have a fun day of laughs and giggles. Learning new things, new words and exploring what is around them.
We are family.