Watching these babies blossom into big kids is a thrill.

Here's a fact about my granddaughter: She sniffs books. When we sit down to read, she'll take the open book out of my hands, hold it to her face and breathe.

“What does it smell like?” I ask, and she offers me the book, more than willing to share the olfactory pleasures of reading.

“I think it smells like apples,” she'll say. Or maybe, “This one smells purple.”

My older grandson, a preschooler, likes space. When my sister and her husband, a NASA engineer, visited last summer, my grandson was asked if he had any questions for a NASA scientist. Yes, he said. My brother-in-law no doubt smiled, perhaps expecting a question about going to the bathroom in space.

“When do you think the space probe Cassini will crash into Saturn?” my grandson finally asked. As I understand it, missing the look on my brother-in-law's face was like being out getting a hot dog when Lou Gehrig told the crowd at Yankee Stadium he was the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

Then there's my younger grandson. From the day he was born, he has lived this message: “I'm so glad to be in this family with this big doggie and these toys and books and spatulas to play with. When you walk in the door, I'll say, ‘Heh-wo!' in my most welcoming voice. Also, I love making a circle before eating so much I insist on doing it frequently throughout the meal.”

My point in sharing all of this? These former babies are growing up. We've seen their individual selves emerging for months, and I, for one, am thrilled.

I'd thought I was prepared for their individuality: my granddaughter's best-friendship with her dog and devotion to the cats she visits at a local cat café, her love of making angels in mulch and her flair for rocking crazy combinations of tights, skirts and tops-over-tops that somehow works in a very Princess Awesome-y way; my older grandson's interest in chapter books, his talent for concentrating hard and then remembering names, titles and relationships that have everyone else stumped, and his swaggering confidence around adults; my younger grandson's vocabulary, which includes connective references (“Dada!” he'll say, nodding at the KitchenAid mixer his father recently used; “Drampa!” at any red pickup like the one my husband drives) and attempts at more complicated words, such as “anenamel” for any four-legged creature.

My own babies morphed into people, too, of course. I recall being delighted but also distracted, because parents by definition are distracted. We notice changes while catching falling lamps, mopping spills and wondering if a rash should be looked at by a doctor.

A grandparent's view is more like watching a biopic on PBS. The movie's revealing exactly who they'll be in 30 years when the credits roll. Since I likely won't be around for the credits, I'm paying very close attention now.

Margo Bartlett and her husband have two daughters, two sons-in-law, three grandchildren and two car seats. She also writes the Just Thinking column for ThisWeek Community News. You can reach her at