Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The First Grandchild

I can relate to this because I did have a first grandchild and he -- Shandon Matthew Stamper -- will always be first in my heart for my grandchildren (that doesn't mean favorite, it just means first).

So, Lori asked me what it was like for my mom and dad when Phil, my son -- their first grandchild -- was born.

I don't know, but I do know when I visited them my father sort of ignored Phil -- like he was afraid of babies. And maybe he was. But not my mom. That baby was like a dolly to her and she just cuddled him and held him as long as she could.

About three months after Phil was born, Alan and I were kicked out of our married student housing -- we had lived there for what was at that time the limit allowed for a couple to reside in that housing (three years). So, since Alan had a few more hours to work on to finish his Master's Degree in Environmental Engineering, and since the pastor of the church we had attended while he was a student at Rutgers (and we were married) was a bachelor, Alan was able to stay with him during the week, and I moved in with my mom and dad.

Those days are a blur to me. However, shortly after Alan finished school and got a job with the NJ Department of Transportation (washing dirt -- I'll explain later) we got our own place and Alan wanted me to go back to work at Rutgers (this time in South Jersey), so my mom had Phil most of the time.

The washing dirt thing -- to build good bridges you have to have a good mix of soil (dirt) and concrete. To find out whether the soil (dirt) will hold up and mix well with the concrete, you have to run it through water (wash it) and see how long it takes for it to turn into a muddy flow. 'Nuf said about that.

I recall that my father, once he got used to Phil (the litter fella who everyone else but dad called Pip) whenever "the little fella" would cry, my father would go into him and tap him on his forehead. Sounds ridiculous, I know, but it worked. He would stop crying. I mean it wasn't a hard tap, just a light tap on his forehead for a few seconds. Then he'd stop, and if Phil was still crying he'd wait a few seconds and do that again.

There was a time when Phil was about one and just learning to walk and grabbing everything in sight. We were visiting -- because by this time I was no longer working because mom had her first heart attack. Long story there. Anyway, Phil decided to grab the OPENED box of spaghetti and it (spaghetti) went all over the floor. At least the spaghetti wasn't cooked at the time. My father couldn't understand why I couldnt control "the little fella" better than to allow him to throw all the spaghetti on the floor!

I knew what dropping a bowl of cooked and sauced spaghetti was like as I had dropped a whole bowl of it once before and fortunately it landed on a chair -- none of it went on the floor -- so clean-up was easy. But we had to wait another 1/2 hours for water to boil and spaghetti to cook before we could eat. And, of course, my father wasn't please by the wait. He wanted his dinner promptly at 6:00 p.m. Not before, and not after.

One more thing about being a grandparent -- I do recall that I was on the phone all the time with my mom telling her about every thing that I was feeling -- heartburn, the first feeling of the baby moving, braxton-hicks contractions (they didn't have a name back then), what to take when constipated, which seemed to be a constant when I was pregnant. Her remedy? A tablespoon of olive oil (it had to be olive oil) every morning. It did work and if I had been smart I would have taken the olive oil everyday for all the months when I wasn't sick, which was only three.

I guess I've given you all more information that Lori wanted. Sometimes, I just don't know when to stop.

I hope that's what you wanted to know about my parents and their first grandchild.

BTW, I went looking for pictures -- which I know I have -- of Mom and Dad with Phil, but being the queen of organization that I am, I have once again out-organized myself and can't find them!

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