Suwannee Democrat

January 2, 2013

The Suwannee Scribbler 
- A life-changing experience

By Jim Holmes
Suwannee Democrat

Live Oak — The past several weeks have brought some very big changes to the Holmes household.

Of course, in this particular case, the word “big” is used more in a figurative manner than in a literal way. After all, in the grand scheme of things, an elephant is big.

In our case, the “big” only weighs 28-pounds. But the presence of those 28-pounds constitutes enormous changes to our lives. You see, with the exception of weekends, Lynda and I are now the full-time caregivers for our 19-month-old grandson, Caedyn. His mom and dad - our daughter and son-in-law - have gotten a couple of great new jobs outside of Atlanta. But until they can get into their new digs, they are camping-out in a dorm-type facility owned by my son-in-law’s company. The downside of this deal is that the dorm doesn’t allow kids or pets.

We, on the other hand, are FAMILY! Meaning we have to accept BOTH!

So in addition to my youngest grandchild, we are also caring for Sarah and Chris’s three dogs.  Did I mention they are Great Danes?

Ironically, the pets are no big hassle. They’ve simply joined our three, equally massive mastiffs in roaming our fenced acreage during the day and sleeping in my barn at night.

Caedyn, however, is a somewhat different story.  
Although big for his age (he’s always mistaken for a two-year-old), he is still very much an infant. He babbles more than he actually talks and he’s in diapers. In addition, he is sharp as a razor blade, which means he is into EVERYTHING unless it is locked down, sealed tight or nailed shut.

Thus, it was with some degree of trepidation that I agreed to this new living arrangement. After all, I’m the guy who once wrote in this column that the two best days in a grandchild’s visit are the days he or she arrives and departs.

Well, apparently I’m more adaptable than I thought. I’m sure my adaptability is helped by the fact that Caedyn is a real charmer. He’s a handsome little man with huge blue eyes, whose smiles and hugs are usually more frequent than his tears or tantrums. In other words, like a tick on a hound, this little bugger has managed to burrow deeply into his old Poppy’s heart.

That doesn’t mean Lynda and I aren’t exhausted after a day of caring for him. Depending on the night, Caedyn has his bottle and bedtime story in Poppy’s lap about 7:30. We shoot to have him in his crib by eight. Lynda and I aren’t usually far behind. The difference is he cries in protest when we put him in his bed, while Lynda and I are usually heard to sigh “Thank God,” as we crawl under the covers.

Our time with Caedyn has been different than it was with our two kids. When they were little, both of us had our own careers, and the stress that goes with such jobs. As retirees, that stress factor is gone, or at least less. Unfortunately, also gone is our youthful endurance.  

Twenty-eight pounds doesn’t sound like much, until you’ve had to lug it around much of the day with a 68-year-old back. Just getting Caedyn in and out of the crib or his playpen can sometimes be a real challenge, particularly if he disagrees with your decision. I have an electric hoist I use in the barn for heavy loads. I suggested to my wife I could reinstall it over Caedyn’s bed, but she vetoed the idea.

Perhaps the biggest change in my life however, is the fact that I have been forced to admit I am not quite the ardent eco-greenie I once thought myself to be. That personal revelation came after Lynda gave me a very dirty and smelly cloth diaper to rinse out for laundering.  

Within the hour, I had purchased five cases of Pampers. 
OK, I admit it. My decision isn’t in the best interest of the environment, but darn it, even a tree-hugger has limits!  

Jim lives in Live Oak.