“Through A Glass Darkly” column for Jan. 2, 2013

BY BOB ANDERSON

Cries of a teething toddler woke me through the night.

Unlike her parents, I rolled back to sleep. That’s a beauty of being a grandparent.

Last week with my son, his wife and their daughters — ages 3 and 15 months — reminded me what parenting little ones is like.

I recall the overwhelming desire to sleep, knowing I couldn’t close my eyes. Blink and small children stick a key in an electric outlet or give the dog a bubble bath.

After the night of hearing their child deal with teething pains, my son and daughter-in-law yearned for sleep.

Pops took over confidently while the beleaguered parents slipped back to bed. I felt awake enough to read a few story books.

But Jena, the older child, wanted Pops to help her cook on her toy stove, so I plopped next to her and put a plastic egg into a plastic frying pan.

Delaney Jane likes to copy her sister, but her attention span is far shorter. After a few minutes, she scurried away. That was when things started to go awry.

Absent a corral, one adult can’t watch two children, a scientific fact I had forgotten since I had little ones.

Making a battlefield decision, I followed the little one. Catching up with her in the next room, I detected immediately she needed a fresh diaper. During the diaper search, pots and pans in the pretend kitchen began to bounce noisily from the floor.

Hoping to let sleeping parents slumber, I rushed back with Delaney Jane in one arm and a diaper in the other.

Outside the sliding glass doors, the family’s golden retriever decided things were more interesting inside and began to bark. Despite her noise, she would have to wait while I handled the diaper change and the clanging in the kitchen.

The phone rang.

It would have to wait too.

Diaper and clanging fixed, I hurried to another room to let in the barking dog.

The phone rang again as Jena announced she wanted more to eat than a plastic egg.

While we surveyed the real food options, the phone intruded a third time. It was a business call for my son.

I told the caller he would get back to her in a few minutes, and she began to recite her number.

“Wait, while I find a pen.”

I found an orange crayon.

“I need paper.” I explained I was a grandfather watching two small children. She understood. Perhaps she had been a child once.

I found a paper towel left over from the diaper change. As I recorded the last orange digit, a scream echoed from another room. Jena had closed the door on Delaney’s foot.

There was no blood or bruise, so we rocked and calmed her sobs, while Jena lay down next to the retriever.

At that calm moment, Dobin and Julie emerged from the bedroom and asked how things were going.

“Fine,” I said. “Did you have a nice nap?”

They smiled and nodded unconvincingly.

Contact Bob Anderson at banderson@theadvocate.