8 Ways Grandchildren Can Touch You, Except When They Can't by Cora Liderbach

“Anxiety is the handmaiden of creativity," wrote T.S. Eliot. For those who need an outlet for creativity during self-isolation and social distancing, Lit Cleveland is offering free writing challenges each week via our newsletter. The following piece is a response to the "List" prompt.

8 Ways Grandchildren Can Touch You, Except When They Can't

by Cora Liderbach

1. Your stomach flutters as you cradle a newborn small enough to fit into a Christmas stocking. Before you know it, his warm heft sinks into your arms.

2. A baby glides on his belly like an alligator. You wonder, will he ever crawl? until he two-steps around you on the couch.  

3. A toddler stands in the center of a room and, unprompted, throws back his head to laugh and laugh. His joy staggers you.

4. You roll the ball to a baby brother, who catches it, then scoots so close to you he drops it right in your lap. You think, can’t time just stop?

5. A large forehead presses into yours – so hard it almost hurts – as warm eyes peering from below enchant you.

6. You wait out a tantrum over a finger-smudged iPad, then ask, can you take a deep breath? Do you want to hold onto the bad feeling … or let it go, and play?

7. You watch as two boys bicker over dinosaurs, then burst into giggles and tumble, wrestling, over the back of the couch. Your heart balloons.

8. When Covid-19 pauses the world, the boys – though just half a day away – may as well live on Pluto. And though smartphones bring you their Knock-Knock jokes and yellow blackbelt karate moves, it’s not the same as feeling small arms wrap round your thighs and wet, drippy-nosed kisses miss your lips. Especially when all goes dark as they stash the phone inside a box or hide the screen with a glowing red palm because it’s so hilarious.