Though Hannah and I have lived in Maine for 32 years, when we were first married in 1972 we thought for sure we would live in Tempe, Arizona forever. As just the two of us, we enjoyed the relaxed, outdoor lifestyle and the warmth of winter in the Valley of the Sun throughout the 1970s. Then came Molly and two years later came Robyn. Our families (Dan’s in Fair Lawn, NJ and Hannah’s in Fairport, NY) were part of a magnetic pull drawing us eastward.
Now scroll forward to 2014. After seven years living in Virginia, having scratched an itch to live in warmer climes herself, our daughter Molly is returning north to take a job teaching in Massachusetts with her hubby Tip, and two boys, two year old Owen and two month old Max.
Currently in transition, Molly and Tip are spending this summer with us on Chases Pond Road as they look for housing, daycare, and Tip’s next job. And for this month or two or three, we are living the dream: Having Owen and Max in our lives 0n a daily basis as their Boppa and Omi.
Each morning, the family descends for breakfast from their two rooms above our garage. As I hold Max close to my chest, we become one. Max mostly chills in his Bouncy Baby Bjorn and has the occasional “tummy time” to strengthen his neck muscles.
His tornadic brother Owen is as sunny as a July day in Maine. He arrives downstairs ready to race from living room to dining room and back with the biggest of smiles. Up please he says as we lift him into his high chair. Having learned to buckle himself in, he often begins breakfast with orange chunks. Soon blueberries follow, then some shredded wheat. Cheerios are always at the ready. Tip makes him eggs some days while his Omi treats him to blueberry pancakes on occasion. Milk in a Sippy cup wraps up a fine morning repast.
Then he’s off – dumping the cardboard oatmeal box of corks and laughing as he knows just what he is doing. There is a downstairs basket of books. Owen ironically picks the one named after his Maine Uncle, Unkie Will. Owen chooses Will’s Mammoth every time. And then when we are done reading it and say, let’s read another book, he says, Mammoth, and we read it again.
While their parents go out to breakfast, we take the boys to the Village Elementary School in town. Owen is at home on the slides as Max sleeps in the stroller. But it’s the wood chips in the playground that garners Owen’s full attention; grabbing fistfuls and throwing them about as he spins with two year old abandon.
Some nights while his Mom and Dad catch their breath, Hannah and I put Owen to bed. It’s a wrestling match worthy of the WWE as it takes two-on-one to get Owen into his pajamas. Then we read Sandra Boynton books, often Bob (the reindeer). Followed by the singing of Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star and You are My Sunshine.
Sometimes Owen understands it’s time for bed, grabs his blankie and teddy bear and lies down. And then there are other times he wails at the injustice of it all. He pleads his case at 150 decibels, but he does not sway this jury of two.
Molly and Tip are playful parents. Owen says knuckles, curls up his fist, and fist bumps anyone with a ready fist. They shoot for consistency; after playing with his blocks and the corks in the living room, he picks them up before he moves on to what’s next. Pease and tank you are already parts of his interaction with adults. I wuv you Boppa makes me smile every time.
They are not angels. Thank goodness. In time, they will both challenge their parents. But that is to be expected as Molly and Tip are raising boys to think for themselves, be respectful, and make choices. Like all kids, both boys cry and get fussy. Usually it’s just their way of saying I’m tired or I’m hungry.
But the best thing about Molly and Tip as parents is that Owen and Max know they are truly loved. They cuddle with their sons regularly, tell the boys they love them often, and are fully present when they are together.
All you need is love. Owen and Max have it coming from all angles.