Tuesday, October 06, 2009
Now that our mission has been accomplished... now that everyone's lives are getting back to normal... I guess I can take the time to document the past 10 or so days. It's been a real whirlwind for sure.
Back in the Spring or early Summer of this year, our daughter Andrea mentioned that she and Gage, our son-in-law, were planning a cruise in the Caribbean this Fall. She wondered if we'd like to time our visit this year to coincide with their trip so we could watch their boys, Ryan and Evan -- our Grandsons, during that time. It didn't take more than, oh, 5 seconds to say "of course", and plans were made. One of the advantages of our lifestyle is being able to adjust and make things like this work out. Of course, on the flip side, one of the disadvantages is not being a regular daily/weekly participant in these little guy's growing lives too. But we'd like to think our longer visits make up for it somewhat, and in this case being able to live with them, full time, for over a week was a rare opportunity.
If I had known (remembered?) what it was like to be in charge of two munchkin toddlers, I would have worked out for a few months prior to our arrival in order to build my stamina. These little guys have more energy than seems possible. If it could be bottled you'd probably be able to power a good portion of a typical house's energy needs. Ryan - code name "Sparky", the oldest at 4 years, is the easier of the two to manage. He's very communicative, observant, intelligent, and can help out when pressed. He's full of questions, has fun pretending this or that, and loves to play games with us old codgers. Evan - code name "Squeaky", a year and a half, is something else. While he is observant and intelligent, like Ryan, he has the added feature of having a built-in, pre-wired trouble-finder. The situation or setting doesn't matter... if there's something he shouldn't be getting into, something he shouldn't touch, a cabinet he shouldn't be opening, furniture he shouldn't be climbing, or an older brother that needs tackling... he's there... in spades. And while he doesn't talk much yet, he has a shrill scream -- the reason for his code name. He screams mostly to get attention... and boy, does it work. But this annoying trait is offset by a knowing smile that melts your heart and makes it difficult to be too stern about it all.
So Andrea and Gage took off for their vacation early on Friday morning, September 25th, and we moved into their house and became surrogate parents for the next 9 days. Gage's Mom & Dad, Shirleen & Duane, did help out and gave us a needed break mid-way through the week by taking Ryan overnight. That same night we camped overnight in the bus-house with Evan, an adventure for the little guy and a chance for us to sleep on our favorite mattress.
The schedule for much of the week involved pre-school on some days for Ryan, afternoon naps (the kids... although I felt like I should have napped too), trips to the store, a few expeditions on walking trails in the Vancouver area to get the kids outside and work off some of that pent-up energy, and very little time to ourselves. Evan is at the age that requires nearly constant watching to keep him out of trouble.
Then, later on Saturday evening, Gage & Andrea arrived home from their trip. Ryan and I went to the airport to pick them up. While neither of the kids exhibited any outward signs of missing their Mom & Dad, they were clearly excited to see them. Especially Ryan, who was so pumped he couldn't stop talking long enough to take a breath at times.
It was a good week. While there were times during those 9 days that challenged our enthusiasm for this bonding opportunity, we both agree that we wouldn't have missed this for anything. The joy of waking in the morning to a little finger poking my arm, accompanied by a genuine smile and bright cheery eyes... these kinds of things can't be taken for granted, especially when it's your own grand-child helping you greet a new day... so fresh, so innocent, so basic. We get used to the routine of our lives... the all-adult nature of our interactions... and often go through our days by rote. But having this chance to see the world through a child's eyes gave me a new energy for family and for life itself. For me, it was a metaphysical experience.