“The Power of Small Things,” column for Jan. 27, 2015

Small things can make a big difference. When a baby enters a family, for example, life changes for everyone _ parents, siblings, family pets _ even for the nana.

For the past half hour I’ve been sitting on a bean bag playing “prison guard.” To my right, the room is filled with delights: Cars, trucks, trains, books and billions of Legos.

To my left is a different kind of delight: Bunkbeds holding two small prisoners.

In the top bunk, my 4-year-old grandson, Randy, snores softly like a woodchipper set on idle. In the lower bunk, his 2-year-old brother, Wiley, has been thrashing about like a sumo wrestler riding bareback on a meth-crazed crocodile.

My job as prison guard has been to keep Wiley in his bunk until one of us falls asleep. Lucky for me, he caved first. One minute he had the devil in his grin, and 30 minutes later, he was sleeping like an angel.

Meanwhile, down the hall, the boys’ newborn sister _ her majesty Eleanor Rose _ reigns supreme on the throne/crib of her elegant pink nursery.

Do you wonder who’s in charge here? It’s Eleanor. When she wants to eat, her mama feeds her. When she wants to be held, her daddy puts her on his big shoulder and paces to and fro. And when she wants to sleep? We all try to be quiet.

How can someone so little get to be in charge of the world? It’s an unspoken rule of newborns. They get what they want/need whenever they want/need it. And everybody else has to be patient. Even her brothers. That’s not to say they have to like it. As Wiley told his mama not long before his sister was born: “No like baby. Never.”

But somehow they accepted it. The boys had their turn as king. Now it’s “long live the queen.” It helps, of course, that the queen is ridiculously cute. Thick dark hair. Heart-shaped face. Starfish hands. Toes like her nana’s.

I wish you could see her.

Even Wiley couldn’t resist. When they met her, Randy said, “Look, Wiley, it’s our sister!”

And Wiley grinned his devil/angel grin and said, “Awww!”

As a consolation prize for losing the throne, the boys get (drumroll, please) me. I’m their nana. I’m not real exciting, but I mean well. And I work cheap.

Randy likes me a lot. He’s had four years to get used to me. Wiley will like me, too, I tell myself. He just needs more one-on-one time. Don’t we all?

So today, while Randy went out on a date with his aunt, and Mama fed Eleanor, and Daddy worked on projects for the house, I hung out with Wiley. We scooped sand in the sandbox, loading and emptying his dump truck 50 times, give or take. I got pretty good at it.

We stacked pebbles in piles until the piles fell apart. Wiley thought that was hilarious. We played basketball, soccer and dodgeball and ran a NASCAR race with his bigwheel. He was the driver. I was the pit crew. But we won as a team.

We sat on the deck pointing up at passing clouds, flocks of geese and a pale crescent moon. Then he led me by the hand to a corner of the yard and showed me where the dogs had pooped.

There’s nothing special about one-on-one time except it’s one-on-one. It’s a small thing, but small things matter.

Tonight, in the throes of Wiley’s thrashing, I rested my head on his bunk and suddenly he grew still. I could feel him watching me. I could hear him breathing. Then he leaned over, wrapped his chunky arms about my neck and whispered something that sounded like “I love you, Nana.”

Or maybe “I want a banana.”

Then he patted my head with his small hand, and I heard him loud and clear.

Small things don’t just matter. Sometimes they change your world.


  1. Kate Sciacca says

    Eleanor Rose! I am just loving these classic names. :-). We have a Rose Marie and an Abigail Anne…. Aren’t these just grand?!

  2. Congratulations, Nana!

    Bruce and Neva

  3. Katie Bast says

    I read your column faithfully but just had to write to you today because I have an Eleanor Rose as well. Eleanor Rose Kreider was born on 4/14/2000. She was named after me: Catherine Eleanor Kreider Bast AND her paternal grandmother Eleanor Graber Nase Kreider. Our families have been friends for generations. “Rosie” is now 14 and beautiful inside and out. Her dream is to be a Rockette and she is studying dance and voice and has the dates for the auditions in 2018 on the calendar already. I wish for you that your Eleanor Rose will grow to be as beautiful and smart and talented!

  4. Davey Myers says

    Oh Sharon! I could actually see you all in this wonderful time together. This may be my all time favorite article. Maybe because we know most of you. I laughed and choked up with Wiley and you. Sooo lovely!

  5. Congratulations! Sweetest family with two boys and one girl , what a joy to see little one and you joined them sharing this union with us ,through your blog post . Waiting for day she visits your place with lots of more wonders ,along with her brothers ,mom and her father reminding you how blessed you are !! Love and please extend our love to family and to new arrival !!

  6. Cindy Neuenschwander says

    I love your
    writings… I go by nana too… & sometimes nana banana. We are raising our sweet grandson …his mama …our only daughter passed away last May.

    • Sharon Randall says

      Cindy, I’m so very sorry you lost your daughter, and so very thankful you can be there for your grandson. Please know that my heart goes out to you and I wish all the best for you and your family.

  7. Sharon, Congratulations on the arrival of your sweet little Eleanor, such pure, pure joy. I am so happy for all of you. I would say “enjoy”, but I know no Grandmother who would enjoy this dear little blessing more.

  8. Right there with you! One-on-one time gets spread thin as the family grows, that is for sure. I call moments like the one you had with Wiley “Butterfly Moments”. They land on your shoulder and you can barely breathe because you don’t want them to fly off. And when they do, you treasue them because they are so very precious and rare.

    I was snuggling my granddaughter Raigen at her 2nd birthday party, singing “Happy Birthday”. She put her Minnie Mouse headband on my head, put her sticky little hands on my cheeks, looked directly into my eyes and softly sang “Happy Day to GaMaw”. Yes, baby girl…happy day, indeed.

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