Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

December 11, 2005


Three hours on duty and Grandpa is now a qualified baby sitter


          Annabelle turns three today. She is a beautiful little girl, almost angelic at times. Yes, you guessed. She is my great granddaughter, the only child of Jodi and Matthew Albritton.

          Until a month ago Annabelle lived faraway in Ohio. We had seen her only a few times during short visits. Now she lives in Montgomery. Her dad moved home to work at Applebee’s and so the three of them could live near “the family.” 

          Grandma and I like that. Now we can get to know Annabelle. I began that process Thursday. I went to their home and served as her baby sitter for three hours. Her mom and dad were busy working and running errands.

          I admit that I was a little apprehensive. Some memories caused that. Over the years I have kept my grandchildren on several occasions.  A few times it was a terrible ordeal. One grandson, who shall remain nameless, cried steadily for six hours, saying repeatedly, “I want my mamma.” By the time she returned, I can assure you I wanted his mamma to have him.

          My confidence soared when Annabelle’s mom told her goodbye. She waved goodbye as though she did not have a care in the world. Realizing that she felt comfortable staying with me, I breathed a sigh of relief.

          I knew better than to arrive empty-handed so I walked in at lunchtime with a happy meal for her and a hamburger for me. We would munch on French fries as we checked each other out. That worked well for 10 minutes. It gave me time to decide what to do next.

          She likes the “Grinch” movie so I let dear old Dr. Seuss help me entertain Annabelle. Actually kids do not really “watch” movies; they treat movies like background noise while they busy themselves with crayons or toys. Seldom have I seen a child sit still and watch a movie. Unlike adults the kids are not often looking for an opportunity to relax.

          When “Grinch” time was over, I watched in amazement as Annabelle removed one CD and inserted another, needing no help from Grandpa. I failed to notice the title; it was a Walt Disney movie about dinosaurs. Now she was ready to hit me on my leg 50 times with her little toy dinosaur. I needed a new idea fast.

          I quickly diverted her attention from damaging my leg to drinking the chocolate milk I had brought her. To my surprise she loved it – one sip at a time for 45 minutes. Each time she had me to hold the bottle so she could unscrew the cap. She drank a sip then screwed the cap back on. I had no idea you could do that 55 times in less than an hour.

          But I did not mind for by now she had climbed into my lap. That is the acid test. As any grandparent knows, you are still on trial with the kids until they trust you enough to crawl into your lap. When they do, it warms your heart and becomes a moment to cherish.

          About 2 o’clock I became a bit drowsy. I suggested we take a nap. Wrong! Bad idea. She had energy to burn and she was intent on burning it. Every time I closed my eyes Annabelle yelled at me, so I gave up. She wanted Grandpa wide awake.

          Reading to her did not seem wise at the time; that might have put me to sleep. I did teach her a song or two. She liked “Row, row, row your boat” best of all. She stayed with me on the first phrase but peeled off on her own when I got to “gently down the stream.” All she wanted to do was “row.”

          She talks very little but does enjoy filling the air with gibberish. When she wants to, she can communicate. I asked her, “Honey, don’t you ever get tired?” Quickly she replied, “No.” And I had no reason to doubt her veracity.

          Bored with watching and playing with dinosaurs, she began pulling me out of my chair. She wanted me to go with her into another room – the bathroom. The reason why was quickly obvious.

          She turned on the light in the small bathroom as we both stood there facing a large mirror on the wall. Then she pointed at my image and her own, in the mirror and laughed. I laughed too. It was a funny sight.

          Three hours had passed without a problem when her mom returned home. She was relieved. I was relieved, and I imagine Annabelle was also. After all she had been taking care of Grandpa for half the afternoon.

          Take it from me; baby sitting can be a blessing. When I started to leave, Annabelle gave me a sweet kiss and a hug. It was a precious reward for three hours of my time.

          Happy Birthday Annabelle. I hope you will let me be your baby sitter again sometime because Grandpa loves you very much. + + + +