Little Lessons Learned

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I am just back from New Jersey where I once again visited my east coast family.  As most of you know, my two daughters and six of the grandchildren live there. I’ve tried repeatedly to get them to move to California but there’s something about their husbands having jobs there, they grew up there, all their friends are there, the rest of the family lives there, etc.

Lame excuses at best.

I always, always love the time I spend with my family but I have to be honest. In five years of return flights, which I calculate to be somewhere around 20 times that I have soared at 33,000 feet over all those fly-over states, I have only seen take-offs from Newark Liberty Airport twice.

Yep, you read that right. TWO TIMES.

I am just so tired by the time I get on that plane that I strap myself in, close my eyes and only wake up when I hear the food cart coming down the aisle which is generally about 30 minutes into the flight. I eat, I turn on my noise-canceling headphones, tune into Mozart, Kenny G and The Beatles (I am eclectic in my musical tastes…that one is called my “Sleep Music Playlist”) and someone pokes me as we are going into our final descent to tell me to return my seat to the upright position, stow and lock my tray table and turn off all electronic devices with an “on/off” button.

I have only myself to blame for this.

I am fairly sedentary, especially since I have had this cranky knee the last year or so. I sit at the computer for  probably 10 to 12 hours a day and am not terribly mobile. The silicone shots to the joint in my left leg have helped, but my desire to get up, get out, get moving has been less than what my orthopaedic surgeon, or for that matter, myself, would like.

Simply put, of late, I have been very lazy about exercise.  My boot camp group dissolved and since then I have had no interest in exercising, especially not alone.

So, it’s not unusual for me to be tired when it’s time to return…but this time…

I. Was. Exhausted.

I didn’t realize that my grandchildren getting older would mean that their activities would become more tiring…for me.

I spent more time in backyards and playgrounds the last two weeks than I think I did in the last ten years. The “babies” are now pre-schoolers and every  morning when they get up…at least while I am visiting…my daughters give them something that makes them hyperactive only while they are alone with me. I know this.

Why do I  know this?

Because when I lived on the east coast and used to babysit their little ones I would give them ice cream for breakfast, any kind of candy they wanted at any time and force them to only eat junk food. Then I’d send them home.

I called it “Payback.”

So, after their breakfasts of 100% sugar or something (n.b., this is ONLY when I am there…my girls are much more attuned to eating healthy than I ever was. For my kids growing up, eating “healthy” was just having the regular size fries at Roy Rogers.) I would be set upon to go outside, push swings, coordinate “Olympics”, shoot baskets, go for “nature walks” … well, you get the picture. I always offered to read books. Play the “Who Can Stay Quietest the Longest” game. Have a try at “Imagination” which is where we all lay on the floor with our eyes closed and I say “We are at the beach. What do we hear? What do we see? What do we smell? What do we feel?” The highlight of this game, at least for me, is the laying down part.

Little lessons learned: this is never going to happen. They are busy, busy, busy. What else? They are happiest being busy, busy, busy.

They would have very little to do with their grandmother’s idea of “fun.” Fun was chasing after them on their scooters before they fell off and crushed their skulls. Fun was “Amma” dodging baseballs when I attempted to pitch. Fun was having my foot run over by a motorized jeep.

However, two of the highlights of the trip was my opportunity to be part of the “co-op” team at my youngest grandson’s pre-school and a visit to “Color Me Mine” with my two youngest granddaughters.

This week I’ll tell you about the pre-school. Next week I’ll tell you about the Color Me Mine.

My oldest daughter, the mother of four who participates in mini-triathlons and thinks that Chicken Marsala is a perfect dish for a Tuesday night and just “whips up” some banana bread for breakfast on a Thursday, has to be the “assistant” at my four-year-old grandson’s pre-school a scheduled number of times per year. I happened to be there when one of her times came up.

OMG. I was in kid heaven.

I was a group teacher in a pre-school when I was MUCH younger and it was one of my favorite jobs ever. I love little people. My stint was during the early 1980′s but I had a very valuable lesson that day with my grandson and daughter.

Kids are the same, no matter the generation. There is always the kid who has to be the center of attention, the kid who cries for his Mom, the one who won’t get his hands dirty doing a project, the one who has to dominate the playground, the one who pushes someone, the one who waits to go potty to the very last minute, the one who is always worried that they won’t get to do their show and tell, the one who only uses purple: crayons, paint, pencils, whatever. (I only used the masculine here because it was convenient, but trust me, the girls were in every category I mentioned as well.) It was just so great to be back in that scene. I would give anything to have little ones of my own again. I wish I could have kept mine all small. Innocent. Curious.

But life doesn’t let that happen. One of my favorite signs is the one that says “Grandchildren are God’s reward for not having killed your own children.”

I will end with that. Thank God!

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One Response to Little Lessons Learned

  1. Patty Nichols says:

    Thanks for sharing this…you lead a very rich life and are blessed by your children and grandchildren. We just got back from Indy where we attended my youngest granddaughter, Emma’s baptism – she’ll be 1 yr. old June 17th…it was an awesome event as I’ve never been in a Catholic Church before this and I was able to see the commitment my son and his wife hold towards their religious beliefs. They are very firm in their beliefs and how their children will be raised. Of course, when the priest went to anoint baby Emma, she quickly slipped her hand in the baptismal pool and splashed!! There were some giggles in the pews. We returned afterward to their home where, like you, I was chosen to read a book of their choosing for the younger kids and then my oldest grandson, Alex of 12 yrs., proceeded to tell me all about “Barn Owls” and their food source, breeding habits and how they care for their young; this went on for about 1-1/2 hours. I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed being with them and hated to leave. Grandchildren are truly God’s gift to us and I thank Him for that.

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