Photo courtesy of David Webster
Photo courtesy of David Webster

“So, who will be taking care of baby Gibson?” I asked my daughter and son-in-law.

“I think I could handle it. Remember, I learned a few things about taking care of a baby when you entered the world, and I was a teacher for many years and somehow managed twenty-five or more fifth graders for thirty-six years.”

They looked at one another while not saying anything, likely not expecting my offer and not knowing exactly what to think about it. Then again, I was someone they could trust, and I was willing to do it for a blueberry waffle and coffee for breakfast and chicken noodle soup and water for lunch!

Well, they decided to give me an opportunity of a lifetime, a career move that I will always consider one of my best. I quickly was reminded that you can't keep a small child from receiving their share of bumps and bruises as they start exploring their surroundings, that it is impossible not to make a few mistakes as a caregiver; however, I also quickly learned how to become a preschool teacher in recognizing the importance of a variety of play and learning centers throughout their home.

Two years later, Rowan entered the world, a world of masked people due to the coronavirus. I agreed to watch two children. Fortunately, my wife had become quite envious of my position and retired from the teaching profession too. I used the word “fortunately” because taking care of two young children is much different than taking care of one. Even though we had two children four years apart, two years apart is a bit more challenging. After all, there are two diapers to change and several during the day.

My wife and I are often together while at other times handling both of them on our own. Admittedly, I am taking more breaks than her finding reasons to get away. It is not long before I get a phone call from Gibson with him asking a penetrating question followed by a statement: “Grandpa, when are you coming back? I want to go outside and play and take another wheelbarrow ride.”

After playing outside with Gibson, we return. My wife fixes him lunch, and I give Rowan a bottle and start rocking him asleep with my mask on. I typically sing “If I Had A Hammer” by Pete Seeger and Lee Hays and think about how lucky I am to have the pleasure of holding a small child again, my large hand holding his small hand. At times, Gibson will give me a look as if he wants to join us. Of course, I hold out my free arm, and he gently cuddles close to me saying, “I love you grandpa.” I then think about how blessed I am as I sing a very simple and original song:

“Grandpa, Rowan, and Gibson
Rocking, rocking away
Trying to go to sleep
As they rock, rock away
Oh, Grandpa, Rowan, and Gibson
Trying to go to sleep
As they rock, rock away”

As we are all three quiet, I think about the words “hammer of justice, bell of freedom, and song of love” in “If I Had A Hammer,” and I particularly think about the word “love,” about the importance of it in life. Then, I think about a song I wrote, “The Child.” Within it, there is the line: “Love is the antidote.” Let us all continually find ways to share our love in 2021.