Memo from Monitor Land

Recently I had the gift of taking care of Gabriella, my 2 ½-year-old granddaughter, for four wonderful days.  “Gigi” (her nickname) and her mommy (our daughter Erika) were visiting us from Ireland for several weeks, and Erika had gone off to enjoy a girlfriend weekend with college friends.

Gigi and I had a ball.  We put puzzles together, built with blocks, played “taking care of baby brother”  (due to arrive in her house late summer), danced in crazy hats to silly kids’ songs, had teddy bear tea parties, went to the library and the beach and the playground—and savored ice cream treats.  It was “Nana heaven.”

It was a fresh look at  “life in monitor land.”  Believe it or not, our own kids were raised without monitors.  They just weren’t much in use at the time.  But in this Nana-season of my life, I have to say I love monitors!

Admittedly they have a downside.  I don’t sleep as well with a monitor on my dresser. There may actually be times when moms on duty 24/7 with young children would do well to turn them off.  When a child is settling into naptime, Mom might need a quiet break more then she needs to listen to every bit of jabbering and singing that goes on before sleep comes.

But it’s different with nanas.  Nanas love “listening in.”  It’s amazing how much you can learn about what goes on in a two-year-old’s mind.  Here are a few random things I learned from listening to the monitor:

  • Kids often review their day as they go to sleep—or even in the middle of the night!  “Go in car with Nana….Run run run in water….Play in sand at beach….Have tea party with Teddy Bear.”  Then at 4 am, a brief reprise: “Chips [what they call french fries in Ireland] . . . choo choo . . . come home with NanaFarfar” [her word for her grandfather is the Swedish “farfar,” and Gigi runs our names together—kind of a nice reminder of two-become-one].  And then at 5 am: “Gigi taking good long nap!”

  • Kids love to interact with stuffed animal friends: “Hi-ya, dolphin!”  Hi-ya, Penguin!  Hi-ya, Teddy!”  She even “read” several complete books to her bed-buddies.
  • Kids work out issues as they talk them through.  “I take good nap . . . Bye bye, people . . . Mommy right back.”   Another time: “Mommy Daddy gone . . . Gigi play with NanaFarfar.”

  • Kids cement their learning through review.  I remember hearing (via the monitor) our grandson Bengt practicing his counting.  Gigi would sing through her ABC song.  And one night I heard her reviewing—in rhythmic chant—the main characters in a book about the Lion King: “Simba, Nala, Scar, Zazu, Mufasa . . .” She especially loved the sound of that last one!
  • Kids memorize easily and even internalize what you sing to them.  Several times I heard Gigi singing through the words of a song Erika often sings to her as she puts her to bed.  It’s a song I used to sing to Erika: “Peace” from The Music Machine.  I love the refrain: “Peace, peace, I think I understand/Peace, peace is holding Jesus’ hand.”  Not a bad way to drift off to sleep—for children or adults!

If you ever wonder what your kids are taking in during the day, try listening in to the monitor.  They may be absorbing a lot more than you think!