I recently had a birthday and evaluated how I wanted to spend the next year of my very blessed life. Probably with some surprise to my daughter and son-in-law as well as other people, I volunteered to take care of my one and only grandson, Gibson, with Bethany returning to teaching K.

While Gibson naps, I read and write and sometimes nap too. My other daughter, Haley, one of the happiest people I know, gave me a book, Solve For Happy by Mo Gawdat. Despite being well-off, he was not happy. Mo eventually realized he was personally responsible for his happiness. Early in the book, he focuses on babies and concludes they are happy as long as they have a full stomach, sleep, get their diaper changed, and receive loving attention. It is what I have observed while taking care of Gibson. He is happy around-the-clock!

Mo then ponders why many of us lose this happiness over time, some sooner than others. He encourages us to reset our happiness button. Well, Gibson is certainly enhancing my happiness. As I enter his home and our eyes meet, he smiles; he smiles throughout the day until he is hungry or needs a nap; and, he smiles as his parents return from teaching all day and then looks my way as I exit with a smile that seems to be saying I will see and play with you tomorrow. We have become the best of friends.

Admittedly, I have faced a few challenges. Surely, all of his toys have passed strict requirements because he wants to put everything in his mouth. At the same time, I am still concerned he will get choked on the safety tag or another small part if somehow chewing it off. I didn't realize how easily he could get out of one pant leg with me trying to get the other one on; however, I am improving with my technique. There was an early diaper change when I didn't think about the importance of being quick until a steady stream was whizzing by my chest. Of course, he was grinning, and I had to grin too.

Now, I have diaper changing down to quite the system even though the system is sometimes slowed down due to other deposits. Gibson hasn't figured out that a back flip away from my body could put him right on his head. With no warning, he suddenly kicks against me and shoots out. Fortunately, he has yet to get away. There was the time my cell phone dropped from my shirt pocket on his forehead when bending down to play. I still see his look and the tears, and I was crushed.

In just over a month on the job, Gibson can now stay and play with an item in a sitting position until seeing something else of interest. Then, he finds a way to get it. At first, it was the lunging technique which now has changed to crawling. He thinks his territory is restricted to two small quilts, but I suspect by Christmas he will be crawling all over the house. We change play and learning centers in short intervals throughout the day. Gibson knows where we are going and what the options are at each center even though I try to do something unexpected to keep him guessing. The other day, he took three plastic washers up a pole when the day before he could only take them down. We only had worked on that maneuver a few minutes. He made his grandpa quite proud. I am amazed at what and how fast Gibson is learning. To be a small part of it is an honor, one that I will always cherish.

I am learning some valuable lessons too. When teaching fifth grade, I had the opportunity to observe other teachers for my evaluation one year. Unfortunately, I did not observe a K classroom. I think all teachers, no matter the level, should be encouraged to observe K and preschool. Young children learn so much before school. What kind of teacher would I be today if returning to fifth grade? Well, I would be a better different and take even a stronger stand against the emphasis on standardized testing.

If interested in more about Mo's work, you can tune into solveforhappy.com or onebillionhappy.org, two sites that have attracted a lot of people. May we all find that baby happiness!