Having taken a holiday in May, the long summer stretched out before me with no anticipated break. This early into placement we have been mindful to not overwhelm Little Chick with too many changes and have limited new experiences, settings, and people for all our benefits. But when my mum invited us to join them in Wales for a week I could have wept with joy.
Little Chick adores his grandparents. He benefits from Grandpa’s quietness and steadiness. This ability to just be and spend time with him is often underestimated and underappreciated, certainly by me. But it centres and calms Little Chick and brings joy to my dad too.
Grandma is Little Chick’s partner in crime. She is a friend and safe place rolled into one. Initially, I have been jealous of their bond, worrying that I am being replaced and that I have introduced other people too soon before securing our attachment. But I have been heartened that he looks for me even when happily playing with Grandma. While swimming, his giggles and splashes were interspersed with calls of “watch me!” and furtive looks to check I was close by. My initial jealousy was reasonable but unfounded and seeing Little Chick so happy with his grandparents makes my heart sing. This is ‘normal’.
In turn, Grandma cherishes her time with her best boy and her boundless enthusiasm and attention offers me down time without worrying that he isn’t happy or cared for. Her willingness to join in with the evening entertainment each night also gave me a break from self-consciously jigging and allowed me to watch Little Chick dancing freely, joining in the games with the other, often older, children, and even braving karaoke. His rendition of ‘I can sing a rainbow’ may not have wowed the audience but I could not have been prouder.
Spending a week away from home was tricky, but manageable. It was the longest Little Chick had spent away from the house and the first extended stay away from Mama. Considering that, he was brilliant. Yes, there were moments when I wanted to scream and pull out my hair, but, really, they were to be expected. His behaviour was typical of any three-year-old excited to be somewhere new with his pals. If we were to do it again, I would perhaps rethink the accommodation: you don’t realise how many doors there are in a static caravan until everyone has been opened into or slammed in your face.
Bedtime was the only major issue of the week, with Little Chick refusing to settle, a departure from our successful night-time routine at home. By the end of the week, we accepted that he wouldn’t readily go to sleep – even with me in the opposite twin bed – while he knew Grandma and Grandpa were still pottering about mere feet away and let him stay up until he crashed through exhaustion. Not ideal but the least stressful for all of us.
As much as Little Chick has enjoyed getting to know his grandparents, I have also appreciated my parents in these new roles. I never doubted that they would be good grandparents, but I hadn’t expected them to be so perfect for Little Chick. Between them they offer him so much that he wants and needs: calmness, adventures, quiet rest, high jinks, safety, fun. Unprompted, Little Chick lists them among his family. He loves Grandma and Grandpa and they love him.