Grandma Diary: Strap Stress!

(an infrequent series)

Our day begins about 6 am when the eldest grandson, nearly 3, wakes. He stands by the gate that keeps him inside his room, chatting to his stuffed animals- a calico cow, a baby kangaroo and a blue panda named Stillwater- or singing songs or reciting books he’s memorized.

When the children are visiting us in Pennsylvania, we take the early shift, giving the parents a little bit more sleep.

I go to the room and face the biggest challenge I encounter as a grandmother.

Opening the gate. It’s placed upside down, with the release button facing the floor. Simon already figured out how to open it when it was right side up.

I find it tough to undo it and often just lift Simon over the top.

Then we read stories while he has some milk, talk a walk to look for deer, and return and make breakfast together.  We make pancakes, French toast, or eggs, cut fruit, and set the table.  His mother or father bring his little sister to join us.  Nearly one,  she plays with makeshift toys from the kitchen drawers—plastic measuring spoons and cups, mixing bowls, and colanders.  

Reading, changing diapers, baths, and cooking. These are things I can do.

It’s the equipment that befuddles me.

Booster Seat Assembly

We’ve acquired enough baby accessories to make everyone comfortable and safe: a stroller, a car seat, a high chair, and a booster seat, forget about using an old telephone book. Each one needs assembling, often minimal, and each has a strap system designed to restrain the child. They may be quick-release, just not for me.

The car seat is the worst. Built like a  tank, installation requires strapping to the car’s seat belt, and demands patience and skill. Once there, we don’t want to remove it. 

I’ve saved many books that the kids liked and boxes of legos, blocks, and train sets. Garage sales have become our best friends as we recycle others’ castoffs.

For years I admired our friends Sandy and Richard, who introduced us to road cycling. They had a bike rack on the back of their a car and a car seat inside.

I always thought “how cool is that.”

And it is.


About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. ( I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
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16 Responses to Grandma Diary: Strap Stress!

  1. Meryl Baer says:

    I am currently involved in the same activities. My three grandkids (and parents, sometimes) are visiting for three weeks. It took us a long time just to bring in the boxes of stuff from the garage and sort through! Besides garage sales I found thrift shops to be a great source of kid toys and equipment. Good luck, have fun and take a much-needed vacation when they are gone!


  2. Brings back so many memories. Have fun. Remember to put the kids in on the sidewalk side of the car and not the street side.


  3. I feel your pain. I will not carry the car seat with baby inside around together, the shoulders can’t take it. So I’m guessing I’ll need my own car seat. Trying to figure out what this mimimalist Grandma will need for the 1st grandchild, due in a few weeks 🙂 Thanks Lisa!


  4. Barbara Klein says:

    Forget the tag sales or thrift shops. What about things people leave on the side of the street on recycle day or at the town dump. Do we still have the “gang,gang gang go” ? Love Mom
    Got to admit,those kids are gorgeous.


  5. Sweet! I think your granddaughter looks an awful lot like grandma. 🙂


  6. You are such a cool grandma! Good for you. 🙂


  7. adinparadise says:

    I know exactly what you mean about that gate. When we visit our son, I usually end up climbing over it right at the top of their steep staircase. I just can’t fathom that lock. 🙂 I’m so looking forward to seeing my granddaughter in a few days’ time. Thankfully she’s out of the strapping in stage. 🙂


  8. Jane says:

    Yes, things like car seats and gates have become quite the complicated commodity. I enjoyed reading your post 🙂 Jane


  9. Pingback: Grandma Diary: Sand & Water, Mulch & Mowing, Yoga & French Toast! | cyclingrandma

  10. Pingback: Museum Musings: Dutch Masters & Dinosaur Dung | cyclingrandma

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