Last night I had Henry to myself for a few hours while his mama and daddy went out to dinner. I tell them a weekly date night is essential to their well-being. What I don’t tell them is it is also essential to mine.
Henry is still at that stage where he wants to be held close. His little hand grabs the neckline of my dress, holding tight. I rock and sing and sing-pray over him. He sleeps sound, his head against my heart, cocooned snug as a bug in the sling. I call him Lovie.
Last week, I asked for Ollie to visit one afternoon, another evening. I want to give his mommy and daddy a break when I can. But I also need to spend time with this wee lad.
I love to give him kisses; he tips his head just so to let me know he expects them to land just there, at the base of his little neck. I tickle his tummy and kiss his feet and laugh when he giggles. He lights up my life in an instant; always smiling, he is like sunshine! I call him Sweetums.
I’m not sure how enthused my chids are about the nicknames I’ve given the grand-boys. My daughter conveyed concern to me with a degree of frankness I can count on.
“Listen, Mom, you have to know this can’t go on forever. When he’s rounding second base in Little League, you can’t be yelling, ‘Run, Lovie, run!’ ”
“Well, of course not,” I snorted. “I would never do anything to embarrass him. This is between Lovie and his GiGi. As soon as he tells me he doesn’t like it, that will be the end of it.”
But, I added, “I expect he will be perfectly content for a special name at GiGi’s house for quite some time. I bet he won’t blink an eye when I say, ‘Lovie, go find Sweetums; it’s story time!’ ” Just the thought makes me smile.
I realize that an undesired nickname can be very hurtful. On the other hand, a loving nickname is a beautiful thing. It says something important about our value in the eyes of another. It signals a beloved status. It is a precious gift. One way or the other, names matter.
For now, they are Henry Lovie James and Ollie Sweetums Lloyd. For now, they are content with evenings in GiGi’s arms. For now, we have lullabies and rock-a-bye time. For now, there is no one calling them off to play, nothing else to do but just be with GiGi. It is a priceless season, abundantly blessed by grand-boys, Lovie and Sweetums. My heart about bursts with joy!
~ René Morley