As I write this column, our house is like the east coast of Florida must have been as it waited to see how Matthew was going to affect it. In other words, we’re preparing for the arrival of my two-year-old stepgrandson.
We’ve been planning for his visit a long time. This being her first grandchild, my wife’s plan is to spend every one of his waking hours playing with him or cuddling him on her lap and every one of his sleeping hours sitting next to the crib and staring at him. As my ninth grandchild, my main plan is to not be the only adult in the house when diaper-changing is unavoidable.
But the last time I saw him was at his parents’ house when he still was crawling and easy to catch. Now he’s a toddler and probably could out-toddle Usain Bolt. Which means of, course, that the entire house had to be child-proofed — which, as anyone who ever has raised a child knows, is one of the major oxymorons of parenthood.
Still, you have to try.
Fortunately, we still have the accordion gate left over from our dog-raising days, so that can be stretched across the doorway on the loft to keep the kid from bouncing down the stairs several times a day.
Electrical outlets within reach of tiny fingers and pointy objects have been covered. The cupboard doors under the kitchen sink have been secured with a device to prevent him from ingesting colorful little packets of dish soap, drain cleaners and other stuff not generally recommended by leading child nutritionists. Breakable knick-knacks have been moved to higher ground, even the ones that deserve to be broken.
A crib has been borrowed. A high chair acquired. The washing machine and dryer have been double-checked for reliability; it’s a scientific fact that a 30-pound child is capable of producing 45 pounds of laundry a day.
We’re still not sure what kinds of food, drinks and snacks we need to have on hand, though. He’s their first child, so I’m pretty sure his parents still are at the stage where they feed him only organic, non-gluten, free-range vegetables they have personally grown in their garden and are not yet resigned to letting the kid eat whatever food hit the floor that the dog didn’t get to first. Which means that neither the chili I made in August nor the Mountain Dew and Doritos in the pantry will be on his menu. But I’ll let my wife take care of that.
Because I still have to get the sandbags stacked around the living room and the sheets of plywood nailed over the windows.