New challenges

Susan Manzke


Susan and Bob Manzke along with their grandsons, Wyatt and Harrison and farm dog Sunny enjoy a ride during "babysitting" weekend.

Some of my friends have grandchildren living close enough so they can babysit whenever needed. Ours live in Wisconsin but are about two hours away from the farm, so I only get to babysit a couple times a year. This means my skill at taking care of toddlers is quite rusty.

For one evening and one day I was entrusted with too little grandsons. Wyatt is three years old and his little cousin Harrison is two years old.

There are a great many things to remember when taking care of these grandsons. First and foremost, no peanut butter or peanuts of any kind can be around Wyatt. The little guy is allergic.

Before leaving him in my care our daughter Rachel showed me his EpiPen, just in case he had a peanut reaction.

Peanut butter has been a staple in our house forever. Grandpa Bob often has peanut butter on his toast in the morning. All peanut butter was put away during the boys stay. The trouble is that store-bought packaged food has to be checked for possible links to peanuts. If it is even made in a factory that uses peanuts elsewhere in other products it has to be listed on the package.

I had all kinds of fresh fruit and plans for two big meals with the boys. All were peanut-free. When it came time for supper I was ready to make mac & cheese but Wyatt and Harrison wanted toast. “Toast with jelly on it, but no peanut butter,” said Wyatt. The little guy has been well indoctrinated.

After a supper of toast and a bit of fruit, they had a treat of yogurt. Later, after more outside play, they wanted another treat. Harrison chose fruit but Wyatt wanted crackers, just plain white crackers. Of course, Harrison had to have crackers too.

Wyatt looks like he’s a good eater, but he is very picky. For lunch the next day the boys got a special treat. Pizza! Of course, the packaging even for this pizza had to be checked that no peanuts could have contaminated it. We were safe. Wyatt and Harrison ate the whole thing!

Our daughter Rachel, who was in charge of both boys for the weekend, had gone to help her sister move to her new house. Instead of traveling all the way back from Menasha to pick up the boys and then head south again we had switched car so I could drive them there. This would save her over an hour of travel time.

I had gotten instructions how to strap the boys into their seats before Rachel left. Now it was time for me to do it on my own. Boy, those new car seats are much more complicated than the ones we had when Rachel was a baby.

The boys climbed into their own seats – each seat was different. I took my time getting them tucked in, but even after they were fastened in place I doubted my ability to tighten the straps properly. Grandpa Bob came around and double checked everything, so after that I felt better, not that he knows much more about newfangled car seats than I do.

Then Bob and I buckled ourselves into the front seats and took off for Menasha. It was slow going at first as I was trying to get used to Rachel’s van. I never feel comfortable driving someone else’s vehicle. This time I had a precious cargo in the back seat, but there was no need to race to our destination so I took as many country roads as possible and drove at a moderate speed.

Our time with our grandsons had been so much fun. Grandpa Bob and I even managed to take them for a ride in the cart with Sunny the dog. Yes, we were crowded, but that just added to our fun. I definitely look forward to the next time we are together.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;