I was reminded once again this weekend why God sends us children when we are young.
A good friend of mine had her 13-year-old grandson stay with her while his parents went east for her daughter-in-law-the-saint’s cousin’s wedding. The daughter-in-law is a saint because she has loved my friend’s son for around 20 years and lived with him for over 16. My friend barely had her son for 18 years and was immensely relieved when he finally left for college. She said to me one day, “If I were Abraham up on the mountain with Ishmael, ready to sacrifice him and God came and said, ‘This was just a test…’ I would have said, ‘Thanks, God, but it’s really okay. You can have him.’ One of her favorite sayings was “God makes teen-agers the way they are so that when they leave, you don’t miss them.” Most of her friends heartily agreed with that.
She reported that her grandson arrived early Thursday morning. He came with his rolling duffle bag, his bag of books to be kept at home in case he forgets one at school (which apparently is a new thing now; you buy two sets of books so the kids always have what they need.) his guitar, his backpack, his iPhone and a lot of intestinal gas. Really. When he left she told me her entire house smelled like the word that starts with “f” and ends in “arts.” She had to leave every window in the house open for half the day when he left…and, in his room, overnight.
Most challenging for her was the fact that he goes to private school. The private school has an incredibly strict policy on pick-up after school. Parents/Responsible Adults are assigned a large, shocking pink card for middle school, which must be displayed in the dashboard any time the “P/RA” arrives on the campus … and they may only enter the premises at precisely the time designated. She was told you must use your cell phone to determine the exact time, since that is according to a satellite and not (god forbid) by a radio station or the clock on your console. Should you meander in before, you will be turned around and sent to the end of the line which meant you’d get your kid around 6 p.m. … and yes, school lets out at 2:45.
Then there was the homework thing. Every child in the school has his own netbook type computer. This is what is used to email assignments to the teachers, check your calendar to see what’s due and remind yourself of what classes you have when. She said to me “I wasn’t even allowed a calculator in high school. But then again, calculators were the size of Volkswagens in those days.” She also didn’t own a computer until she was well into her 40′s. And that one was the size of a Smart Car. She was extremely grateful that he didn’t require any assistance with his projects. He got them done on his own much to her relief, but she wondered for some time what would, say, a first-grader email his teacher? a stick figure portrait of his family?
What really puzzled her was the constant texting. Her grandson’s iPhone made a sound like a Circus Clown’s horn every time someone contacted him. After awhile she had to ask him to put it on vibrate because she kept expecting Bozo to be standing in her living room and it was starting to get on her nerves. Not to mention she has an irreconcilable fear of clowns. She finally asked him why he didn’t think it was easier just to call someone instead of typing out everything he said. He looked at her with one of those “Duh!” expressions like this was some sort of shocking suggestion…and one that had never occurred to him.
She was impressed by the fact that he ate much healthier than any of her own kids ever did. Even though she attempted to give him any number of “fun” things to eat, he stuck with his basic plan of good food…except when it came to her over-sized and well-stocked candy dish. He ravaged it almost within minutes every time she restocked, miraculously finding every piece of what was his favorite type and then leaving a trail of wrappers around the house. For all his technological capabilities, her grandson had no idea there was a nifty invention known as a “wastebasket” into which one can deposit trash at any time, and didn’t require a password to do so.
The house felt empty when he left, she reported. Somehow this young man filled the whole place with life and laughter…and odors that would wipe out an entire enemy army. She slept for twelve hours straight the next day, happy that she didn’t have the stress of arriving at the school and facing the No Parking Nazi.
And okay, so this was about me and it was my grandson, but I didn’t want to embarrass him. Too late, I guess. I doubt he reads the blog anyway. I sort of changed names to protect the “somewhat innocent.” He’s a truly great kid and I really did miss him when he left. And it wasn’t 12 hours straight in Dreamland, it was almost 14. Boy, am I old.