Being a parent is the greatest gift and the greatest challenge.
It always amazes me how you don’t need any sort of license or permission or test to be a parent. You take this helpless little bundle home, usually after an intense workout where you have to figure out what to do with the car seat — and off you go. Some folks are fortunate to have help, either paid, friend, or relative, and others are on their own. Kudos to those who are on their own.
That first night home from the hospital can be a rough one. I still remember wondering what was wrong with Son #1 because he wasn’t sleeping for the 20 hours that the book “What to Expect,” told me about newborns; 20 hours in the first week, maybe — but certainly not that first night home. I think that book was a tad full of hooey, but that is for another column.
I was not the best parent, certainly not the most patient, and 100 percent not the best role model. My boys have fond recollections of when we went to return something at Brookstones (is that store still around? I often wondered if those $3,000 massage chairs ever sold, but that’s for another time) and I told them that because they were wearing yarmulkas, they had to behave even better than usual. Unfortunately, their mother got into a fight with the manager and knocked over a display on her way out of the store. Unbeknownst to her, the three little boys saw this brawl brewing and they had snuck out a few minutes earlier, in order not to have gotten caught in the crossfire of their mother’s temper. Good times. Fortunately, they have inherited their father’s temper, which is more or less even all of the time. That truly is a gift.
Fast forward to now and I have been blessed with Strudel and Danish.
Sometimes I find myself talking about Strudel like I haven’t already raised three children and it is the first time I am doing it. But it seems I have a lot more patience with my little friend. We went to BuyBuyBaby a few weeks ago, and all she wanted to do was stare in at the empty space that was once Bed Bath & Beyond. She was just looking through the large glass windows, pointing at the light fixtures, the broken shelving units, and the floor. We were there for so long that I was giving directions to people who were asking where the escalators were.
If she was happy standing there for 32 minutes, who was I to take that happiness away from her? And this brings us to last week.
Strudel and I went to the Gap to buy matching outfits for her and her new cousin. Upon checking out, she got a hold of some jewelry that was on display. Now, even though I buy her most things that she gets her cute little hands on, I was not buying her these particular items because she has no need to accessorize at this point. So I told her to put them down. “No,” she said, both adamantly and adorably. (No is a cute word when she says it — not so much when your actual kids say it.) So we just walked around the store and every few minutes I asked her to put down the items. “No,” she said, looking up at me with a big smile.
Two can play at this game, kid. Babka had nowhere to go and no place to be for five hours. At about 10 minutes in, the saleslady came over and asked if everything was all right, and I explained to her about the standoff I was having with Miss Strudel. “I have two grandsons,” she said, “and I would never let them get away with this behavior.” Really? Are you questioning my Babka-skills? I just shrugged my shoulders and said, “It’s ok, she will put them down when she is ready.” And she did.
I patted myself on the back for allowing her to be a 21-month-old. And for me not acting like one when that saleslady questioned my abilities as a grandparent…
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck hopes that everyone had a wonderful Purim and is so happy that Megillah Man was able to bring cheer all over the world this year! (OK, maybe not the whole world, but still…)