I Can Handle That!

fireflies, grandparentingWe’d be happy to watch the kids for an hour tomorrow night,” I said to my son.

As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I wanted to jump after them like fireflies in a dark sky, placing them in a glass jar with the lid shut tight.

Instead, the offer to babysit flew away from me and into my son’s grateful hand.

“Thanks, Mom. We’ll drop them off at 6. We won’t be more than an hour. 7:30 okay?”

7:30? What happened to an easy hour with three little boys: 1½, 3, and 4½? Just enough time to give them a cookie, read them a book, and offer a bottle and a sippy cup before their mom and dad retrieved them.

“Oh no!” I said loudly on his way out the door. Continue reading

I Want My Nap!

http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/gustave-caillebotte/the-napA few weeks ago my man and I take two of our son’s three little boys for four hours of fun, fun, fun with PaPa and Pammy.

We drive the 45-mintues to pick them up, making plans along the way: walk in the park, an hour in the new playground near our house, a swim at the local pool, maybe we’d even have time to bake cookies!

After car seats are maneuvered into the back seat, the 3-year-old and 4-year-old grandsons are strapped in, and we make the noisy ride back to our place amidst:

When are we getting there?” “Where’s Henry the dog?” “Can we sit on Henry?” How does a dog get arthritis?”  “What IS arthritis?” “Can I have a drink?” “I’m hungry!” “How much longer?”

When we arrive, the 4-year-old plops himself on the lounge chair in our deck overlooking the Bay, puts his hand behind his head, and exclaims, “What a view! I’m going to sit here allll day.”

The 3-year-old has found the puzzles I store in the kids’ closet and throws the pieces of all three, together, across the living room floor.puzzle, nap, grandkids

“Man-to-man coverage,” my guy suggests. He takes the puzzle tot, I take the “unmovable boy” who now has found the bookcase in the hallway and asks, to my delight, “Read this one, Pammy!”

Six books later, the 4-year-old insists he wants to read all day.

Llama Llam time to share, grandkids, reading, books“Let’s go to the playground,” I suggest.

“No! I want Llama Llama Time to Share again!”

In the meantime, Henry the dog has a puzzle piece in his ear, and the man-to-man defense is weakening.

We squeeze in a 15-minute trip to the pool and a few bites of peanut butter and jelly, but it’s close to nap time, when we promised the munchkins’ parents we’d bring them home.

The 4-year-old begs, “can’t we stay and reeeeeaaaaaaaadddddddddd?”

The 3-year-old insists: “I want my mommy!”

So we hustle to the car and begin the ride back.

Five minutes into the drive a sound as loud as 20 chalk pieces screeching on a board emits from the back seat. My guy and I jump so high our heads hit the car roof.

“What’s the matter?” I ask, turning around to check on the distressed 3-year-old.

I WANT MY NAAAPPPPP!” he screams.

Huh. I thought parents begged children to nap, not the other way around.

The 4-year-old consoles his brother: “It’s okay, you can nap in the car.”

NOOO!” his younger brother retorts. “I need my MOMMY, then I can NAP!”

A tense ride ensues, with a strangled sound coming from the 3-year-old’s side every so often: “Naaaaaappppppp!!!”

In a record 39.5 minutes, we deliver our charming grandchildren to their relieved parents.

“You’re late!” our son exclaims.

As I unbuckle the blonde-haired, sweet-as a-snowball 3-year-old from his seat, he strokes my face lightly.

“Pammy?” he says softly.

“Yes?”

“I love you.”

Ah, I’m a good grandmother, I sigh to myself, until the little one continues: “But I’m not coming to your house ever again.”

Defeated, I give him a light kiss with a chuckle and hand him off to his mother for a long afternoon’s nap.

On the way home, my guy drives over the speed limit. I gaze at him quizzically.

“I need my nap, NOW,” he exclaims.

Which only proves that little boys never truly grow up.

nap, grandchildren, grandparents

Hmmm, is it nap time?

More Love

When I think my heart is filled to the brim with love – for my man, my children, their spouses, my parents, my brother and his family, our friends – grandchildren arrive.

I wonder how more love happens. Somehow I don’t have to squeeze each one into an already full heart – they suddenly occupy a huge chunk of it with no one else kicked out.

opera in the alley, San Francsico, street opera, love

Street opera on a San Francisco alley.

Flash. My guy and I walk the city of San Francisco with our son and two of his boys, 3 and 1 ½. We watch the ice skaters in the middle of Union Square, eat vendor pretzels, pant up hills (with the boys sharing a stroller), listen to the opera singer standing in the alley, and then somehow end up in a men’s clothing store, one that my man has bought clothes from since our son was his sons’ age.

As we finger the cotton shirts and silk ties, the two shop owners, now in their 60s, exclaim, “three generations of one family!’ and I feel a burst of pride. I don’t why. I haven’t done anything.

The Hound, San Francisco, men's clothing store, family, love, grandchildrenThe 1-year-old runs around the store with his pudgy bow-legged stance, finding everything at one-foot-high level that is dangerous.

The 3-year-old just sits on the floor looking up at the four men talking about important topics, like football and the stock market.

Suddenly, out of the blue, he touches my guy’s leg. “PaPa,” he says. The men don’t hear him. My little grandson waits patiently.

“PaPa,” he says again, not any louder.

PaPa stops talking and looks down at his grandson.

“PaPa,” our little grandboy continues as if in the middle of his quiet bedroom. “I love you.”

The busy clothier store grows quiet…

…and see?

My heart bursts open wider, to let in even more love.

Getting PaPa's attention.

More love.

Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

Henry David Thoreau, simplify, Walden PondOne of the pleasures of moving to New England, after 16 years in California, was learning more about our country’s history, and in particular, our literary history.

I toured the Orchard House (where Little Women was written, and where Louisa M. Alcott lived with her parents and sisters).

Orchard House, Louisa May Alcott, Concord MA

The Orchard House,
Concord MA

I breathed in the literary dust of Emerson while touring his home, just across the street from Louisa’s.  

Daily walks from my own home led me pass the Old Manse, where Thoreau and Hawthorne, Fuller, Alcott and Emerson, laid plans for a garden, and a better world.

Old Manse, Concord MA, Hawthorn, Thoreau, Emerson, Alcott

But I was most affected by my strolls around Walden Pond, just a few miles away, and the stomping grounds of Henry David Thoreau. Every time I took my guests for a hike around the “pond” (much more like a lake) and then meandered around the cabin replica and gift shop, I’d pick up a book on Thoreau’s writings or a book mark with one of his quotes.

Walden Pond, Henry David Thoreau

Walden Pond
Joseph Sohm/Visions of America/Corbis

You know, Thoreau had a lot to say.

“Be true to your work, your world, your friend.”

“Aim above morality. Be not simply good, be good for something.”

Henry David Thoreau, Walden Pond

Statue of Henry David with cabin.
RhythmicQuietude

The one I took to heart the most was, perhaps, the simplest one:

Simplify Simplify Simplify.

Don’t we all know the value of this thought, deep inside?

The more ‘stuff’ we surround ourselves with, the more our heads get stuffed with non-necessities.

The more we add to our lives (items, not friends), the more we lose sight of who we really are, deep down inside.

My man and I took Thoreau seriously. First, we named our new puppy, Henry (Henry David when he got in trouble).

And then we really got serious. We left our beautiful, much-loved 5-bedroom home, and downsized to a 2-bedroom condo.

To make the move, and the change, we had to get rid of a lot of “stuff.” All of my beloved books – off to the library and the thrift shops. Lamps, couches, extra rugs and dinnerware –  sold. Oak headboards, mattresses, linens and towels –  gone. Antique dressers, hope chests, and piano – offered to family and friends.

simplifyI never cried for any of it, and to be truthful, never missed it either. The need for those things seemed to blow away, like tiny bubbles in the wind.

I discovered that Thoreau knew it all, back in  the mid-19th century. The less we’re encumbered with possessions, the more open we are to the world around (and inside) us.

That said, I’m going to simplify a bit further for the next two weeks and not write. Gasp! Well, no, I’ll write, but I won’t share my flashes of writerly wisdom while I’m frolicking with grandchildren, swimming in the Atlantic Ocean, avoiding the East Coast jellyfish, and all around playing.

I hope your next few weeks are simply – joyous!

Summer joy, simple joys, simplify

Frolicking granddaughter.