To be blessed with the good fortune to have family time on the breathtaking shores of Lake Michigan is reason enough to be grateful. But to get to share it all with my two grandchildren is a joy beyond words. But of course, I’m going to try to find some.
On our first day here, 4 ½ year old Zadie spent six non-stop hours at the beach, some in the water with me and others and much by herself just playing in the boundless imagination of her own mind—talking to herself, telling stories, singing songs while sitting in the shallow water or making mudballs or running her fingers through the sand. How I love this age! I often talk about the importance about feeling at home in your own body, but even more so to be at home in your own mind. I love that she can entertain herself for hours, not only at the beach, but in a room with paper and markers or playing with dolls or beating on a drum. She also was so happy just to sit on my lap while the adults played charades last night, taking it all in with her 4-year old lens. And kudos to her parents for not plugging her in to the addiction industry of electronic devices, resisting the Faustian bargain of selling her soul to 24/7 pre-packaged entertainment so the adults can have some kid-less leisure time. Not that the occasional video is forbidden, but that it’s put in its proper place.
Zadie has developed a reputation as being on the naughty side of the spectrum, but has made it through three whole days without a single “time-out!” A world record! Rewarded with her own happiness, a bit of praise and a trip into town to the Cool Spot ice-cream store. Makes me think of Suzuki Roshi’s profound wisdom—“The way to control a sheep or cow is to give them a larger meadow to roam around in.” So much of children’s “bad” behavior, at home or at school, is their difficulty in sharing a small space with breakable objects and other fussy human beings. Sitting on the beach with immense expanse of Lake Michigan and the freedom to go more or less where she chooses and without danger makes it hard to be naughty.
And then 1-year old Malik. A different little fellow than when I last saw him, a full-fledged bi-ped human walking around and grabbing everything in reach to see what it has to offer him. Only a few words so far—“Hi” and “Bye”—but reacting when I ask where his belly-button is or mine or his Mama’s. He brought some toys, but they’re so uninteresting compared to taking my glasses or pen out of my pocket and putting them back in again. We had a long session with some bags of recycling, taking cans out of the bag and putting them back in again. Then he found the bottle in the next bag and take a swig of the bit of beer at the bottom. That was really fun!
He is in a new clinging-to-Mama phase, but yesterday walked to me and let me pick him up without a squawk. Turns out he is a 100% water-baby, splashing while sitting or walking through the shallow water and happy as a clam to be swooshed around on his back or belly in the deeper waters. (Hmm. Exactly why are clams happy?)
And Malik has had his own milestone moment, sleeping all the way through the night for the second time in his little life. That was two nights ago and it didn’t happen again, but his parents are ever-hopeful.
This Pop-pop so happy to be here, continuing my own routines of swimming, hiking, reading, e-mail at the library, but in-between playing with, reading to, singing to, swimming and walking with, laughing with my two beautiful grandchildren. The Golden Years are not all fun and games, but the pleasure of being a grandparent ranks high amongst the perks.
And here comes Malik! Time to close the lid of the computer and see if I can teach him to find my nose. Or maybe we’ll go back to that bag of beer bottles.