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2013.12.18 Caring for Caroline...

on . Posted in Midnight Musings

By COLLEEN LEDDY

David left me in Kentucky on the Sunday after Thanksgiving and drove home with my sort of stylish new winter coat and two sets of my gloves. 

One set I had brought for my daughter-in-law Sarah to wear, along with Maddie’s winter coat (Maddie spent Thanksgiving in California where it was not 32 degrees and poor Sarah flew in from balmy Miami with Ben and Ryland to join us for a few days at Rosie and Taylor’s house in Lexington.). 

I lamented the loss until I realized David had left the coat I’d brought for Sarah…and it sort of fit me. And, it wasn’t so bad, really; it was beginning to warm up in Kentucky. 

The temperature: it was the only thing changing after Thanksgiving. Rosie was still pregnant and there was no sign that the now-two week overdue Baby Ballinger planned to make an appearance.

That was OK, too, really. It gave me more time to play with Caroline. “Play toys, Grandma!” is how she greeted me every morning after a kiss on the cheek. My extended stay also gave me time to commit to memory the three pages of instructions Rosie had typed up for whomever would ultimately take care of Caroline when Rosie went in to the hospital to give birth to another girl baby. 

“If she’s telling you something hurts and you can’t understand what, think of animal parts—she often says her whiskers, paws, trunk, etc. hurt.”

This might be harder than I thought. I silently implored the new baby to get on with it. She was taking her sweet time in arriving just as her sister did two years and nine months ago. 

Caroline had pretended impending birth at least a couple times. I recall hopping on a plane and waiting around for a week with no action. I was pretty sure I could have driven David home on Sunday and returned on Monday with no action, but it didn’t seem wise. Rosie’s in-laws, who all live within an hour, were all tied up with one kind of medical issue or another. It seemed prudent to stay—and learn Caroline’s quirks and the ins and out of operating a dishwasher.

It also gave me time to practice tantrum intervention. One night when she was having a meltdown, Caroline let me pick her up and take her to her room and rock her. I was singing to her while she was still kind of screaming and she stopped, put her hand over my mouth and said plaintively, "No sing!" just like Rosie did when she was a baby.

Another night I was telling her about the day she was born and how David and I were in the car driving to the airport the moment she was born and Aunt Maddie texted, “It's a girl!!!” 

“I laughed and I cried I was so excited,” I told Caroline.

And without missing a beat she said, "Pee pants?"

She was remembering the story about the time Rosie, Maddie and I stayed at a fancy hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

Rozee and Maddie stepped into the pool first and as they told me how wonderfully warm the water was, I undid the knot on my sarong and opened the cloth out from my body, ready to drop it on the lounge chair and walk into the pool.

With a look of shock, awe and amazement, Rozee pulled me up short.

“Mom! You’re wearing your underwear!” she said. Sure enough, there I stood—pink bathing suit top and my big old white underwear.

I wrote about that in 2008, but I guess I never told the part about how I laughed so hard I wet my pants. And then had to walk into the pool in my underwear because I couldn’t walk across the fancy lobby to the elevator in pee pants.

Caroline and I also spent a lot of time reading books. Even though Lexington has a pretty amazing library system and Caroline regularly visits the library and checks out books on a self-serve system with a beeping scanner, I brought a bunch to Lexington from our library.

She loved reading them, but one, “Wolf’s Coming!” a sweet story about animals preparing a surprise birthday party for Wolf, she declared too scary.

Upon returning home, I discovered that I’d taken one of her library books and left “Wolf’s Coming!” there.

There was confusion over another book of hers and Rosie was texting me to straighten it out.

“It’s the Wolf book that [Caroline] has maybe hidden and doesn’t want you to let kids check out because it’s too scary,” Rosie said.

“She has confirmed that it is under the brown couch. And she would like it to stay there. ‘No let any kids beep it,’” Rosie continued. “She means the beep when you check it out.”

“I was crying laughing so hard repeating that to Taylor,” Rosie said.

Pee pants?

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