An oversized cardigan and a bow tie were his going home clothes. At the age of two days old, he was heading home from the hospital with his exhausted but overjoyed parents. “With that outfit, he looks like a little professor!” exclaimed his father as he tucked him into his car seat.
The nickname seemed to stick and so it came to be that little Titus David Mueller became known as “Professor Titus” or just simply…“The Professor.”
The Professor wasn’t entirely happy about his lot in life outside the womb and wasn’t afraid to let his parents know about it. After a couple of nights of continuous, inconsolable crying and no sleep for anyone, the father reached out to me, The Professor’s grandmother, who was happy to come and spend a few days in the classroom of townhouse #190.
I was nervous. Even though I had experience with newborns, it had been many years since I had helped care for one. Would I remember all the tricks? Would any of them still work? I knew the parents would be in a precarious state, not having slept in days. What would I encounter when I crossed over the threshold of their townhouse? I had packed a suitcase for a few days but had no idea exactly how long I would be staying. To free up Titus’ mother to do nothing but baby care and self care and better sleep for the whole household were my goals. Titus’ father was off work for a few days, but eventually, he was going to have to return to work. Just how long would this take?
As I pulled into their parking lot, I breathed in deeply and slowly exhaled. “You got this,” I murmured under my breath. The Professor’s father actually appeared rather calm, albeit haggard, when he opened the door. I stepped into the darkened room, which would become somewhat of a classroom for the next several days. Soon The Professor’s mother joined us, clutching the object of their love and dreams and angst. Titus David. How could such a tiny person upend their world so quickly and completely?
As I scooped him up, I shooed the parents upstairs with orders to go to bed and sleep. I sunk into a deep chair with the swaddled Professor and didn’t move for two and a half hours. My arm went to sleep as deeply as the child. Studying his face, I marveled at all his features, at times seeing glimpses of his father as the little boy who was once my own and other times seeing his mother’s face. Titus slept soundly as his parents snoozed away upstairs, and I thought maybe, just maybe, I was going to be able to handle this.
When his parents descended the stairs, they couldn’t believe The Professor had slept that long. Handing him over to his mother to be nursed, I headed for the kitchen to see what I could put together for a late supper. Simple and quick seemed to be the order of the day, and I put together some sandwiches, which were hastily devoured by the three of us.
Although the household had come to a screeching halt since the arrival of The Professor, I sensed no chaos. The parents were stumbling through their days and nights as if in a dream, but I could tell they had kept their love on. Together, they would learn the rhythms of life with a newborn, and I was privileged to be called alongside to see the beginnings of this new family unit.
The first lessons taught by The Professor at townhouse #190 were unforgettable. In Fluidity 101, it seemed as though the class was held under water. There was an ease of movement as we “went with the flow.” We didn’t establish any rigid standards of how things were supposed to look with a newborn. We took our cues from Professor Titus, which gave us increased mobility and less strain.
I thought Flexibility 101 was going to be a stretch for me, but I actually found it be a fun class! The three of us, who were taking the class, took turns leading. Sometimes The Professor’s father took over in handling him. Other times it was the mother. And other times it was me. I marveled at the grace the parents exhibited towards one another as one would step up while the other stepped back. We took turns sleeping so the others could rest. Even I had to have my nap times! Fueled by healthy food, naps, and even some laughs, we powered on. Little by little, we were gaining ground. Laundry was done, groceries purchased, meals prepared, diapers changed, bedding changed, bathrooms cleaned, and floors mopped. The Professor’s mother was slowly but surely recovering from childbirth. Soon it was time for The Professor’s father to return to work, and I knew my time here was coming to an end.
As grateful as I was for passing Fluidity 101 and Flexibility 101, my favorite class of all is still being held, and most likely, I will never graduate from it. Fascination 101. In this class, I study The Professor himself. He is fascinating! Every little furrowed brow, purse of the lips, wisp of hair, brush of eyelash, tiny sigh, and mammoth yawn are studied and memorized. And when I am apart from him, the chords that are struck in the sweet companionship we share, cease not to vibrate. That is the wonder of grandparenting.
I am convinced we are to be living in a state of fascination not only with little humans, but with their Creator as well. It is how He has hardwired us, to be completely fascinated with Him. To be drawn irresistibly by the attention and interest He has in us. We are His creations, and I believe He finds us fascinating as well!
As my visit came to a close with The Professor and his parents, I stood in the doorway of townhouse #190. What a week it had been! I turned to his father and remarked, “The Professor is going to teach you more about life and love than you will ever teach him!” He laughed and nodded in agreement. I looked at The Professor, and a little newborn grin broke out over his face. “Class dismissed!” he seemed to say as I turned to go.