Sunday, July 16, 2017

Third Childhood

Five summer days on the shores of Lake Michigan and this is what I’ve been doing:

Jumping rope. Jumping in the waves. Playing Frisbee. Playing cards (War/ Go-Fish). Playing clapping games. Singing songs. Flying kites. Working in the Phonics Workbook. Reading out loud Charlotte’s Web. Baking cookies. Going out for ice cream sundaes. Watching videos of Peter Pan and The Shaggy Dog. Climbing up a big sand dune and running down. Doing jigsaw puzzles. Burying people in the sand. Getting buried in the sand.

My excuse? A blessed nine days with granddaughter Zadie, the last five in Northern Michigan at the summer cottage. Lake Michigan 100 yards out the back, Lower Herring Lake a ¼ mile out the front, the world all ours to romp freely in. Besides the above with me, she’s sewing and painting and baking cookies with her Grandma Mima and doing all of the above with her beloved Aunt Tita. 10 days away from her Mom, Dad and little brother and at 5 ½ years old, that’s a bit leap. But here in Summer Heaven, she’s thriving and it doesn’t hurt to have the undivided adoring attention of her doting grandparents and her Aunt.

Not that it’s all peaches and cream. Zadie is an explosive firecracker, perfectly capable of turning a lovely moment into a torrent of tears from impulses that seem to come from nowhere. Almost makes me believe in the old saying, “The Devil made me do it!” We’re having a fun breakfast conversation while I’m playing Solitaire and suddenly she grabs some cards and throws them up and they land in my cereal. One moment, her aunt is complementing her on her spontaneous guitar playing and the next I hear the stern command to go to her room followed by the scream of refusal. What happened? Oh, just that she got caught lifting a $50 bill from my wallet. All things that will make cute stories at some future gathering, but right now, call forth all our long history of parent and teaching skills to help her understand how to participate in human society with a bit more elegance and appropriate behavior. Three teachers, some 160 years on her, you’d think she’d be hopelessly outnumbered. But never underestimate the power of a 5-year old!!

Because her Mom and Dad had schedule conflicts and my own summer schedule changed somewhat, it looked like I wouldn’t spend any time with my grandchildren this summer. But some good Plan B thinking helped us arrive at 5 days with my daughter’s whole family in Portland and these additional 7 (counting travel time) with Zadie. How lucky was that?! I loved being a parent and I love being a grandfather and part of it is that I just love being a kid again. I’m just as happy jumping rope and playing clapping games as I am going to the Symphony— and perhaps more so!

And splitting it three ways with my wife and daughter, still time to bike 10 to 20 miles around Upper Herring Lake, swim ¾ of a mile of so in Lower Herring Lake, walk the beach and climb the dune just to make sure I still can (I can!), read, write a bit and even sit on the deck watching the sun set with an uncharacteristic gin and tonic. Life is sweet!

Tomorrow back to work, my 3rd jazz course this summer, this one in Halifax, Nova Scotia. But first a delicious dinner out on the deck and a shared sunset. 

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