Southern Indiana Living

MAR-APR 2018

Southern Indiana Living magazine is the exclusive publication of the region, offering readers a wide range of coverage on the people, places and events that make our area unlike any other. In SIL readers will find beautiful photography, encouraging s

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Mar/Apr 2018 • 43 J ust looking into the huge blue eyes of this happy, inquisitive, funny, perfect baby boy provides a strong neural signal from the amygdala, which reg- isters an emotional reaction, and well, the eyes go into auto-mist and I become a big ole' pile of sentimental mush. In all fairness, our liĴle guy didn't have it easy coming into this world; there- fore, everything about him is a miracle to his loving family. Davis James "DJ" Daw- son kicked his way out of his mother's womb two months early and we watched and prayed as he grew ounce by ounce in an incubator with tubes and needles giv- ing life support. During this past year as a first-time Mimi, this is what life with DJ has taught me about the most wonderful job on earth — grandparenting. 1. To sit or not to sit … Typically, grandparents are in their pre- retirement or retirement years and are thinking about filling time voids with traveling, hobbies, volunteer work and leisure. Then this amazing being comes into your life and his parents ask you to watch the baby a couple of days a week. Throw time constraints and logic to the wind and say yes! Nothing can replace this time in your grandbaby's life. 2. Create traditions. Every morning when DJ is with me, we open the front door, look outside and cheerfully say, "Hello world, DJ is here!" Okay, I say it, but now he smiles with an- ticipation as we approach the door. Create traditions that create memories. 3. Prepare to repeatedly fall in love When DJ looks up at me from his car seat and grins or when he holds his arms up to be held, I am overwhelmed by how deeply I love this child. Every minute with your grandchild is priceless and you will fall in love each time you are together. 4. Consider boot camp Start working out even before the first baby shower. Think about how strong your forearm needs to be in order to hold a 23-pound grandbaby and a 20-pound car seat simultaneously (Hint: As soon as the baby can sit unassisted, leave the seat in the car.) Then there is the 90-degree bent- over walking assistance we employ after the baby gets his land legs. To accomplish this takes super human core strength. Stock pain-relieving medications and sign up for boot camp — you will need both. 5. Don't use the past Get over talking about how we did things when our children were babies. Those days of puĴing a baby in a forward- facing, front passenger car seat are over, along with placing your child on a tree branch for the perfect picture or giving the liĴle one ice cream for lunch. Telling your child how they survived these things will be ignored. 6. Don't fret over entertainment Let the parents coordinate future baseball or dancing lessons. As grandparents we get to live in today. Let the grandchildren do what you are doing. When I feel the urge to dance, I pick DJ up and we dance. When I feel like a walk, DJ is happy to be included. I see a future of having fun mostly doing simple everyday activities. 7. Prepare for fun times ahead Virtually everything is more fun with your grandchild. We get to experience this new life in a different, softer light than we did with our own children. Our relation- ship (typically) is not to raise the grand- child, but to love them to pieces and create terrific memories. 8. Don't buy stuff Many millennials are minimalists. That means they don't want stuff for the baby all over their house; instead, whatever you buy for the grandbaby stays with you. My home looks like a day care, with toys that allow DJ to jump, scoot, raĴle, slap, or just sit and play — he even has a mini drum set. As soon as the drums were unwrapped, my son started with, "You know…," and I finished with, "… they stay at Mimi's house." No problem, I always wanted to play the drums. Maybe DJ will teach me. 9. Know that bumps happen You are going to occasionally move slow- er than the baby; don't beat yourself up. The first time DJ bumped his head while learning to sit up, I was devastated, and we cried together. When his mommy came to pick him up, the redness was gone, but I instantly 'fessed up. She handed me the "get out of jail free" card by advising that it happens to them also. These are my takeaways from the wonder year of watching DJ two or three days a week. The most important advice I can pass along to new grandparents is to make that grandchild's time with you their time. No television, no housework, and only work or cellphone time when they are asleep or doing something so amazing that you can't avoid geĴing out the phone for a picture or video. Every minute with DJ has been priceless and I'm thankful every day to have this healthy and growing baby boy in my life. • Editor's Note: This is a follow up to our first story when DJ was born premature. Pictured: (above) Carol's grandson, DJ. A Reason to be Thankful Lessons learned during the first year of life with a preemie Story and Photos by Carol "Mimi" Dawson People of Southern Indiana

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