Not too long ago I saw a teaching colleague whom I hadn’t seen for years. We discussed retirement and caught up with the doings of our children. When she mentioned that her daughters were married and lived in other states quite far away, I expressed my regrets. She said, “Oh, that’s fine. I don’t have to babysit my grandchildren.” I was amazed! How diminished my life would be without my children and grandchildren close by! They are my family, and family is right at the top of my list of priorities.
I’m writing this after we hosted our grandsons for an overnight this past Saturday. We always try to plan ahead for their visits so that we have the right treats and activities available. Andrew is six and Beck is three. Actually, they are “halves”–three 1/2 and 6 1/2, which does make a difference, especially for Beck. A year ago he fussed for his mother, but now that he goes to preschool, he pushes her out the door. I guess he is asserting his independence, which part of the whole growing-up experience.
The evening moved smoothly with Moon Sand (appropriate for indoor play, but very messy). It is made in Sweden, but marketed by a Chinese company. Just so readers know, it isn’t something fancy. I bought it at Target. The package says the sand stays moist and no water need be added. Well, it was moist, but neither Sweden or China had anticipated a dry mountain climate. Frustratingly, the molded sand didn’t hold together very well, but that didn’t matter to the boys. They built roads, walls and ramps and ran their play dump trucks over and into them. When we were ready to clean up, Dave found more of Beck’s sand on his chair and the floor than on the table. For those who might wonder, it cleaned up beautifully!
Andrew is the best big brother I have ever encountered. His mom and dad have taught him to look out for Beck and he takes that role seriously. He is as vigilant as a parent. Not only that, he thinks his brother is very funny, which he is. When Beck demonstrated the Happy Feet penguin dance, Andrew ran up and hugged him. He remarked that he was lucky to have Beck as his little brother. What a sweetheart! During dinner, Beck took a big bite of pizza and then grabbed my water bottle, taking a big swig. He then remarked, “That was spicy!” Andrew commented, “That’s Beck!” When Beck decided he wanted to eat breakfast in the kitchen rather than in the dining room with us, Andrew advised, “Just ignore him. He does stuff like that, but he’ll eventually come in here.” He was right!
The previous two sleepovers we hosted included the boys’ cousin, Julia. She is 7 1/2 going on thirty–also a very responsible young lady and full of creative play ideas. Our townhouse is her stage, with the boys trailing along behind her while she serves as the director. Andrew used to just let her tell him what to do, but occasionally he will say, “I feel bad when you leave me in the other room and go off with Beck. I don’t like what I’m doing!” Usually, however, they mesh very well, all three of them. Both boys adore Julia. One day she said to me, with a big sigh, “I don’t know why my cousins want to be me.” I remarked that they looked up to her because she is the oldest. Her reply: “Just wait until Andrew gets into second grade. It is really hard.”
Whenever the grandchildren leave, the house seems very quiet. We both suffer a let down, with all their young energy gone. Young children are infinitely fascinating–their perspective and immediacy. Of course, I was an elementary school teacher, so I’ve always enjoyed the freshness of young eyes. However, Dave doesn’t have children of his own, so he has never had close enounters with youngsters growing up right under his nose. He loves how the ordinary is extraordinary to kids–all his household tools, kitchen utensils, flash lights, hats–it goes on and on. One of Dave’s great assets is his ability to remember how it felt to be a boy and the fact that he had a wonderful Dad who taught him how to do things and honored his curiousity.
“Our granchildren accept us for ourselves, without rebuke or effort to change us,as no one in our entire lives has ever done, not our parents, siblings, spouses, friends–and hardly ever our own grown children.”~