Sharon Randall: Dancing into baby’s memories
He looks at me long and hard, distant, but curious, as if I am someone he knew once, long ago, in another place and time.
He studies my face, my eyes, my hair, my nose, the ring on my hand, the toes on my feet and, most of all, my teeth.
He likes my teeth a lot.
So I grin really big like a mule eating briars, shake my head, flap my arms and dance about the room like Big Bird on fire.
I do not do this with everyone I meet. I do it just for him. Randy, after all, is my first grandchild.
Then slowly, the way the sun glides out of a fog bank, he breaks into a smile, scrunches up his face and melts my heart with his belly laugh.
I wish you could see him.
Randy doesnít talk much yet, though he shrieks a lot, growls like a tiger, baas like a sheep and babbles to himself when he ěreadsî books in his crib.
But if you saw his smile, heard his laugh, youíd have no doubt that heís thinking: ěI remember you. Youíre my nana.î
I am not his everyday grandma ó the one who lives close by and is always around to take him to the park and make him laugh and look after him if his mama and daddy are busy.
Heíll never forget her. Nor will I. You donít forget a godsend.
Iím his other grandma ó the one who lives 500 miles away, who visits when she can, weeks or even months apart, the one who is always starting over.
When I visit, I stay at his house so we can pack as much fun as we can possibly stand into every minute we share.
I help a little with chores and such to give his mom and dad a break, because Lord knows they need it, and I figure if I help, maybe theyíll invite me back.
I aim to please, even if my aim is at times a bit misguided. I try to leave a good impression.
But what impresses a baby? Is it possible to create memories that are strong enough to span the miles and bridge the gaps from one visit to the next?
I donít know. I do what I can. I try to make Randy happy and let him see how happy he makes me. Itís what we do for those we love, while weíre together, while thereís time, and hope they will remember us after we are gone.
How do I do that for him? Besides the ěFlaming Big Birdî dance? The usual stuff. I read to him, sing to him, rock him to sleep. I climb in his playpen with him and pretend we are prisoners, wrongly convicted, planning an escape by digging a tunnel under the piano and riding his dogs to Las Vegas.
Will Randy remember me? I can only hope. But if he could talk, I think he might tell you this:
When my nana comes to visit, she sleeps where my cat likes to nap. Mazzie hates her, but I like having her around.
Nana teaches me important things like how to pat my hand three times exactly. She says Iím the smartest baby ever, even if I mess up and pat five times.
She picks me up whenever I want, even if my dad says to wait. She says when he was a baby, he never let her put him down, and heís not the boss of her anymore. I like how Nana thinks. I also like her toes. They are red. I want to bite them with my two teeth. But she has lots of teeth. She might bite me back.
My mom says Nana makes great lasagna. Whatís lasagna? I will bite it with my two teeth.
The best thing about my nana is she loves my mom and dad as much as she loves me. If she didnít, I wouldnít let her in my pen to play ěPrison Break.î And Iíd bite her with my two teeth.
When itís time for her to go, Nanaís eyes leak the way mine do when I want to be picked up.
I canít pick her up (my nana is big), so I hold up my arms and she picks me up and I pat her face three times exactly.
If I could talk, Iíd say, ěDonít worry, Nana, I will remember you. But hurry back. Pretty soon I will have more teeth.î
Contact Sharon Randall at www.sharonrandall.com.