Thursday, February 13, 2014

How to Babysit a Grandpa by Jean Reagan

How to Babysit a Grandpa by Jean Reagan, illustrated by Lee Wildish

Rating: 5 stars

Sometimes, even though I'm nearly 40 years old, I do the Lucky Me dance.  I don't even care if someone is watching (that's the beauty of being nearly 40 years old).

What are the reasons I sometimes do the Lucky Me dance?  Oh good...I was hoping you would ask.

One of the many reasons: my kids know my parents really, really well.

(And I think that is a really, really beautiful and wonderful and priceless thing

Kiefer babysits his Grand-Dad
I'm lucky to say that my mom, a retired teacher, tries to come weekly to spend a little time with each grandchild, separately, before we all have dinner together and she heads home to her house in rural Virginia.  Everyone loves Grammy Days.  My dad, a retired Army general, isn't quite retired from work altogether so he actually is pretty busy.  We all see less of him than we'd like.  But with advanced notice, he'll happily come and babysit our kids.  And they LOVE when he comes to babysit.

(Slight disclaimer because I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings: my parents' new partners are equally wonderful with my kids.  Divorce stinks BUT my kids are lucky to two more grandparents who love them like crazy.  And then they've got two MORE grandparents my husband's side!  That's right: they have SIX reasons to do the Lucky Me dance.)

It's such a gift watching my parents with my children because they aren't confined to the discipline standards I need to be, they aren't exhausted by the day-in, day-out aspect of parenthood, they aren't over-present so their presence is a huge present (like that? I did!).  My parents are great at just playing and just being with my kids--and I am reminded to play and be with my kids a little more by watching them.

Oh!  The book!

How to Babysit a Grandpa is a delightful how-to book.  Flip through the pages and the main character, a young boy, will teach you how to properly:

  • Greet a grandpa (by hiding until Grandpa totally gives up)
  • Provide snacks for a grandpa (the short list includes both "ice cream topped with cookies" and "cookies topped with ice cream")
  • Play with a grandpa (including building a cave or fort that you BOTH can fit into)
  • Draw for your grandpa (while he snoozes in a chair, mouth agape as only grandparents can do)

When it's cold, bundle up.
Lee Wildish's giggle-worthy illustrations are a perfect compliment to Wildish's words.  He shows as she tells: and he shows, on page after page, a great, active grandpa choosing to engage and play like crazy with his grandson.  Grandpa's jumping in puddles!  Grandpa is playing a kazoo!  Grandpa is eating the ice cream and cookies!  I just love it.

And I just love the book--not only because I love the fact that my kids have a grandpa like that in real-life.  Lucky them!  Lucky me.  That's why I have to do the Lucky Me dance sometimes...!

P.S.  In a neat interview with the author, Jean Reagan (click here to read the whole thing), she says that she was even more inspired to write children's books after listening to a published author, Bruce Colville, say that he writes books to inspire children to be "kindler, gentler, and braver."  I really love that, too.

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