After forty weeks of anticipation, it was time to greet my first grandchild. The focus had been on the health and care of my daughter-in-law as she grew this tiny human. Months spent ensuring they had everything they needed to support the newest member of our family. A staggering accumulation that had me wondering, how can such a tiny being require so many things?! But times have changed since I had my children, and I was more than willing to embrace the new technology that seemed to be required to welcome a baby into our 21st-century world.
All was set as we waited for baby Max to arrive.
And waited. And waited.
In the waiting time, I tried to envision the best way to welcome my grandson into the world. A world of song and poetry, languages, both spoken and unspoken. A world full of warm touch, a snuggling cat, a bright summer day, and deep-hearted hugs. The colorful, scent-filled world of my hummingbird patio, overflowing with golden honeysuckle, pink jasmine, red kangaroo paws, and dream-scented lavender. A world too big and overwhelming for a little one, so I decided to offer my services as his travel guide in the years to come. Together, never lost, just exploring whatever intrigues him.
I also pondered what to say to him. Should I ask him to be patient with us as we get to know him and his particular needs? Should I read him a Mary Oliver poem (Summer Day), sing him a Van Morrison song (Moondance), or perform a Reiki blessing? Should I start telling stories about his dad and the family he’s joining because we are soooo much fun? Maybe not, I decide. Making a good first impression seemed very important during those waiting days.
All those thoughts flew out the hospital window when he finally decided to grace us with his presence – the brightest of lights during the dark winter solstice.
I gathered him in my arms, tentative at first but surprised at how quickly muscle memory kicked in. I’m not going to drop him, I thought. That’s a good start . . .
In the days since his birth, I’ve created a welcome checklist and started reviewing it with him. Granted, he’s been asleep for much of this ongoing conversation, but I have faith he’s hearing me on a cellular level.
First, I thanked him because I think being polite is always a good way to start a relationship. I thanked him for choosing my son and daughter-in-law as his parents. He’s blessed them by providing the deepest expression of their love for each other, and they are doing a great job. I thanked him for blessing me with the gift of watching my child become a father – a whole new layer of love that I have no words to describe.
Second, I told him everything I intended to teach him. How to hang a spoon off his adorable nose, a MacDonald clan tradition and part of his Irish/Scottish heritage. How to dance in the kitchen and listen to all genres of music – from Louis Armstrong to Taylor Swift to Hamilton show tunes. How to play piano, work a jigsaw puzzle, and tell a knock-knock joke that will drive his parents crazy. How to play balloon tennis on rainy days and whiffle ball on sunny afternoons. How to decipher silly limericks I’ll craft as clues for our scavenger hunts. I warned him I wouldn’t teach him to surf down the staircase on a boogie board (even if there were pillows at the bottom) because his dad and uncle garnered too many bruises from that shenanigan. But I will encourage any activity he wants to pursue (even playing the trombone or drums!)
Third, I shared my hopes and dreams with him. I hope his first words, after Mama and Dada, are Go Giants. I hope he experiences a million belly laughs and becomes a renowned hugger. I hope the editors at Webster’s Dictionary are busy revising the word adorable to include a photo of him. Also cute, brilliant, darling, and perfect… In that, I’m sure I’m just like every grandparent on the planet! I hope my cat Ollie, who won’t come out from hiding for anyone, decides he is worth the effort to emerge from under the bed.
I hope his curiosity knows no bounds. I hope his heart is compassionate and giving.
I shared my dream of writing stories together, fueled by his wild imagination and silly sense of humor. My dream of a better world for him and all of Generation Alpha. A world of possibilities, a world in which he will make a difference.
Finally, I felt compelled to tell him I don’t know how to be a grandmother. I’ll need help along the way. I reassured him that I have theater training and am pretty good at improvisation, so I think we will be fine. Besides, he’s already helped by reminding me that in the midst of an often harsh and cruel world, that wonder, true wonder, is still possible.
As I pass him back to his mom, swaddled like a lumpy-looking love bean, I whisper, “Welcome to our world, Max. I’m Korie, and boy, oh boy, are we going to have fun.”