One of those things that 22-year-old moms are less likely to face: do you take your baby when visiting your parent in assisted living? My father is still mentally with it but needs help, so a couple of years ago we decided it was best for him to be in assisted living. Many are grim or super expensive. The one we found that hit the sweet spot of human decency is about 20 miles from me.
I use to try to see him every week, but since Rex (well, since towards the end of the real uncomfortable part of pregnancy) my goal is more like every two weeks. So, here is one of the issues, do I take my kids or not? Up until recently Vivien was fine with visiting a-little- too- leisure- village. But lately when I say “Do you want to see Papa?” “No” is usually the answer. I don’t blame her since many of the people there are pretty out of it. But when she would visit, it was like a light switch had gone off in their brains.
“Oh, a life force!” She used to sit on the laps of people in wheelchairs without a thought. Now, she has thoughts, and it’s “I would rather go to the park.”
Okay, so Rex and I could go when she is in school. (Timing the traffic is very important in LA) But like young Viv, Rex HATES the car. But my dad LOVES seeing his little grandson… not to mention how happy the other old folks get at seeing a young child.
Am I willing to cause my offspring discomfort to bring a few moments of joy to some infirmed oldies? Yes, sometimes I am. And sometimes there is no choice.
Today was that day. Rex, asleep in his car seat, and I went to visit my dad. I used to take my dad out more, but now that I once again have a stroller in my trunk, it’s pretty tough to get my dad’s walker in there as well.
My dad’s room faces a garden patio, which was a big selling point for us when we placed him there. We sat on the patio, and the folks who are with it cooed at Rex and rubbed his toes. The ones I call “pre-chew Charlies” didn’t seem to know whether Rex was there or a meteor had landed next to them.
When I allowed one sweet older gal to rub Rex’s toes, my dad came charging over with a enraged look on his face. When we walked away he said, “I was afraid you were going to let that lady hold him.” I couldn’t say to him, no, dad, but I did want to throw a little joy in the ladies day and let her touch the yummy baby skin.
To another lady, who is not too together anymore, who was reaching for Rex, my normally social, ladies man dad said, “He doesn’t have time for you.”
He liked introducing Rex to the staff. I think assisted living is like high school or college, but the status is a little different. In this world, it’s not new sneakers or a car but warm, soft skinned people who belong to you and who come to visit you.
Rex fell asleep on the way home, but as we got closer he woke up and cried and cried. I felt bad putting him though it, and I told him he made a lot of people happy today… that is if they remember it.