Monday and Tuesday every week, the Nieto comes over about 7:00am, stays until three or four. He's done that for about a month and become my life on those days. I haven't been around an infant for over thirty years.
He's five months old now, but not crawling yet, so maintenance and feeding, diapering and burping him is manageable. And fun. What goes through my head for those hours is complicated.
I wonder. About nearly everything that I do or don't do with him. About how it will affect, guide or mold him. I don't want to make mistakes, but that could only happen if I were perfect.
My goals aren't that complicated. I intend to let him make the decisions, where possible.
Picking him up from anywhere, I extend my hands and tell him, "Venga." Not until he's lifted his head or arched his back do I actually grasp him. One day I expect him to decline my offer. It'll be fun to see him doing that.
I do the same procedure with his bottle and tetera. There in front of his face and even if he's crying, I await his reaching and grabbing them, rather than just sticking them in his mouth. I hope that's the proper thing to do.
Another goal, maintenance, necessary but can be fun.
When he needs changing, out comes the baby-wipe, but it's not just a damp cloth. "Ay viene la toallita blanca," I singsong. "Está bien fria!" I say jokingly, adding, "Oh, no! No me pones eso en mis pompis!" He loves it.
Same procedure goes for pulling moco out of his nose. This time it's, "Ay viene el buscamoco! Dónde está el moco?" This doesn't always result in the green thing coming out, so I let it lie. Don't want him to develop an aversion to keeping his nose clean, figuratively or otherwise.
TV's limited. Just some cartoon in Spanish. Otherwise, he'd just stare at the screen, understanding nothing, doing nothing, developing nada.
A new book every day. read twice in Spanish is an experience. We lie on our backs with the book held too far for him to grab the pages. He's old enough to follow my pointing finger while I sing the text. He's in awe, of the colors, maybe some of the faces, who knows what else. "Voltéo la página," I say, turning each page. His attentiveness, smile and wide eyes tell me this goes well.
I avoid putting everything in his right hand, though I can't recall at what age Nieto will decide which hand he prefers. His mini-conga-playing is scratchy, loud, done mostly with his right hand, sometimes his left. I can only play the stereo, so I'm no music teacher. But Nieto has fun conga-ing.
He's not ready for it, but we dance. That is, I dance to a song and he lies there, wondering what chingada is going on. I move his hands to mimic mine and expect he'll get the idea fairly soon. Then we'll baila locos.
Speech is trying for me. Having to remember to separate my words and not slur or slide parts of two words into each other. "Mami " and "Papi" seem to impress him, though he hasn't reached the level of deliberately speaking either consonant.
Whenever he goes into one of his loud-yells monologues, I focus on those clearest to me, echoing them to show him the purpose of communication. He'll get it on his own, but maybe my monkey sounds are helping.
We use the legs of the livingroom table, a cube manipulative and his sleeper as jungle gyms. Sideways climbing, pull-ups and stretches are basically wrestling without a partner. Hopefully, he won't become a crazy hands-only, mountain climber.
We've got song-games. Dónde está la pata, la panza, la boca. He's learning to clap this with the soles of his feet, holding onto his ankles sometimes. When we get to, "Aquí está la ____," he knows the tickles are coming. Loves it. Yeah, I know some are animal parts, not people's, but they've got fewer syllables for better singing.
10 Elefantes is a good one. The song played out with a stuffed elephant we just got. Elephants are sentient--not meant for zoos and circuses, so I need to figure out how to convey that to him.
After weeks of teething-hell, Nieto surprised me last Tuesday. He's developed to the point of reaching his arms out to tell me he wants to be picked up, like for comforting. Pinche! Of course he needs comforting to not grow up lacking that loving. Then again, I can't become a helicoptering Abuelo who contributes to Nieto turning into a spoiled brat. A tightrope to walk. Guess I'd better learn where the line is drawn.
He'll crawl soon, just not certain how soon. Then the world opens wider for him. Will have to baby-proof the front of the house, leaving as much as possible for him to mess with so he can learn how or why to treat it just so. I'm leaving the plants, unless they're poisonous. It'll be fun teaching him to treat them like he will the cat and the dog. Gently, with care.
Pinche gato is doing its own lessons. Nieto kept grabbing its hair until Gato finally whipped a few lashings at Nieto's hand. Whoa! Nieto's expression was total "I don't believe this! Something's off-limits?" He has cats at his home, though they're probably not as mean as ours.
There's no pic of Nieto here. He hasn't asked for selfies, either. Anyway, how cute or not, how pretty or not, he is, no importa. Besides, at his age, pics don't convey intelligence, development or potential. Or how much he's learned to care for others. I'm only a minor part of his rearing, but I have to do well on that last element.
Eight or nine hours of calculated nurturing and fun make for one exhausted Abuelo. After two days, I need extra naps. We'll be together for some time, maybe for years, so I need to toughen up. Nurture when I think I need to. Guide wherever it seems appropriate. Encourage everything artistic in him and his exploring, experimenting [banana is good, Gato, not so much] and fine-motors skills. Un montón for me to learn.
Es todo, hoy,
RudyG, a.k.a. el Abuelo-in-training