I Love Time With Orion, But Not Germs


Mark and I really enjoy our time with our grandson, Orion. He has such an unbridled, untempered joy for life. Every bug is new discovery; every outing is a new adventure. We fawn all over him, buy him a new toy each day, make sure his favorite foods are in the pantry. We are hopelessly smitten.

My daughter says she appreciates us, but still, in an effort to get the baby communicating with people other than its babbling, cooing grandparents, she signed up Orion for Gymboree.

Gymboree is like a fitness center for babies. Everything is soft, cushioned, brightly colored and, in my estimation, crawling with germs. I had my reservations.

But I could also see it was something Orion would like — big, colorful parachutes, all kinds of slide and toys. I guess we’d give it a try.

Last Friday was Orion’s first class. I was happy to see a lot of other grandparents there. In fact, the whole class consisted of one instructor, four toddlers, three parents and four grandparents. Needless to say, the kids were well-supervised. No one was going to trip over a foam block on our watch!

The theme of the day was “over” and “under” — with heavy adult participation. Orion and I were soon crawling under the slide, over the wedges, under the parachute, over the mats… well, you get the idea.

And then it happened. The mother of his little play buddy ran over with a tissue to wipe his little play buddy’s nose.

I knew it!

We stoically finished out the hour, but, for me, the handwriting was on the wall. In exactly three days, Orion was going to have a runny nose. And here’s what happened — in exactly three days, Orion had a runny nose.

In exactly six days, I had a runny nose, fever, weepy eyes, headache, nausea, nagging cough and a dizzy feeling. Turns out baby germs are much more potent when unleashed upon an adult.

Because of me, Orion missed his next Gymboree class.

Babies always amaze me. With my cold, I was totally struck down. I spent 36 hours in bed, never raising my head except to pour some water into my mouth. With Orion’s cold, he slowed down a little bit, only running full speed half the time. And he took three naps instead of one. I think I woke up three times in the 36 hours.

Orion also never lost his sense of humor. He was still playing peek-a-boo with the dogs. Not me. In fact, when Mark reached over to pat my head, commenting that I hadn’t spent that much time in bed since our honeymoon, I snarled and almost bit his hand off.

But I’m better today. Everything still hurts, but at least I’m vertical. And, just in case I ever thought I was some kind of linchpin in this family organization, I’m not. The dishes are done, the laundry is done, the baby is healthy again and people keep offering me soup.

Since the world can go on without me, I’m heading back to bed. Gymboree can wait.