My Adorable Grandson: Max
BY KATHERINE ARNUP, PH.D.
I see Max every Tuesday night for supper.
“Can we go to Patty’s?” he always asks as soon as he hops into his car seat.
Sometimes I tease him – “Patty’s?” I’ll ask, dead serious. “Why would we go there?”
“Because I love Patty’s!”
Max, my five-and-a-half-year-old grandson, has trouble sitting still. He is magnificent at taking things apart to see how they work, and I marvel at his ability to put them back together. I have no such gifts. I have to write down every detail, step by step, to remember how to do something, but it’s as if Max has a mental map to guide him. If I ask him how he knows where a certain piece should go, he says, “I can see. That’s just where it goes.” Needless to say, he is also a whizz at jigsaw puzzles.
At Patty’s Max always orders the same item off the kids’ menu – grilled cheese and French fries – except that it sounds more like “fwench fwies” because he has yet to find his r’s. He didn’t speak until he was three – not a word. My daughter worried he might never learn to talk but he did. Now he talks a lot – he loves to tell stories, long and winding stories, just without the r.
Max drinks white milk with his dinner, and has vanilla ice cream for dessert, because his Granny won’t let him have chocolate. He doesn’t seem to mind. It’s how it’s always been. He loves it if I bring jellybeans to go with dinner. One or two before the meal and two for his ice cream cone.
About halfway through dinner, he tells me he has to go to the bathroom.
“Do you need me to come with you?” I ask.
“Yes, because I have to go pooh.”
He turns towards the women’s washroom where I always take him and we go into the cubicle together. It’s getting a little crowded in there since he is five and a half and growing quickly, but he doesn’t seem to notice. When he’s done (or when I think he’s done and I grow weary of standing in the presence of his pooh), he jumps off the toilet and bends in two for me to wipe his bum. I know I should probably wean him of this habit, but I love these moments of intimacy between us, and I know all too well that they are fleeting.
Max, my sweet little man, my funny, mischievous, curly haired, loving little grandson, this brilliant sparkling presence in my life.
We haven’t been to Patty’s since March 2020 when the pandemic officially arrived in Canada. Now we are confined to sidewalk and porch visits and dinners in the backyard of their house at a distance of 6 feet. At first it felt almost impossible not to hug Max and Elizabeth but apparently people can get used to almost anything. Increasingly, the children seem much more distant than two meters, barely looking up from their books when we arrive.
These days Max calls out to his father when he needs to have his bum wiped. Paul tells us it always seems to happen when he’s on a zoom call. My daughter Sara nods knowingly – it’s not easy to explain to the Minister of Finance that you have to leave to wipe your six-year-old son’s bum.
I miss our dinners at Patty’s – even the visits to the bathroom cubicle. I wonder if he’ll be wiping his own bum by the time the pandemic has ended.
See the Ultimate Article on Potty Training here
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Katherine Arnup is a retired university professor, ukulele player, writer, and grandmother who lives in Ottawa, Canada. Her most recent book is “I don’t have time for this!” A Compassionate Guide to Caring for Your Parents and Yourself (available on Amazon.) Her website is katherinearnup.com