Each time I spend time with my grands, I am struck at some time by how differently I am able to interact with them, contrasted with the time I spent with my own grandparents. Bonds with my own grandmothers were strong, yet one worked full time almost her entire life, leaving us happily ensconced at her beach house retreat while the other cared for her increasingly frail mother, and thus was never very free to spend much time with us.
Each generation and each family has different life situations–there are no “right” ways to be a grandparent. Some families I know live with multiple generations under one roof. Others live on separate coasts and have to squeeze in limited visits when possible. My own children offer a similar contrast–one family lives right here in town, while the other lives a 3-hour plane flight away, on a farm that ties them down, making return visits to see us very difficult to manage.
School vacation this week offered some special 3-generation family time for us–my daughter, who works full time, took the week off, which made outing with grands much easier for me to enjoy. Plus I got to appreciate how hard my daughter works with her kids, and how much she deeply enjoys them as well. All great experiences.
The grands know that Grandma likes to get outside, and when I pick them u[p in the afternoon will often ask, “where are we going today, Grandma?” We were blessed with some sunny days this week, and picked a couple of places to venture out for a “hike” (a term I used guardedly, since the three year old, while a sturdy fella, does grow weary). Because of snow I needed to pick places that offered safe parking. Because of the age of my fellow “hikers” it helped to have a playground as the “carrot” reward after venturing out on the trial.
The snow, and ice near the pond at Choate Park made for a challenging outing, but we found stone walls to climb on and jump off .(That is the royal “we” we’re talking about!) The going was pretty tough and so after traveling a short distance on the trail that leads to Medway High school, we turned back and headed for the promised playground.
The next day we picked a different hiking spot, Hopedale Parklands. The almost 8 year old grandgirl still recalls the day I brought her there for a hike in the rain, not realizing that her rain jacket was actually more of a windbreaker. She got soaked to the skin, and the experience left its mark. She always checks, “Is it going to rain?” but we were lucky yesterday and felt nary a drop.
The trails at Hopedale Parkland were much easier to navigate. It appeared the parks crew in Hopedale had been out on the trail, trimming trees, and making the trail pretty clear of snow. There was snow, for sure, in spots, but it was not deep, and the warm temperatures kept it mushy, rather than icy. Perfect for sliding, slopping along in snow boots, and simply running about, exactly what I love about bringing little ones to this place–wide open trails that allow for keeping an eye on kids without holding a tight rein on them.
The rocks along the trail provided great entertainment for the grands–in fact, we even came across the rock long the trail that seemed perfectly designed for a natural slide. The little guy had so much fun he was enthusiastic about continuing on to the stone bridge, but fast-fading sunlight forced us to choose between a longer walk and time at the playground. The playground option won.
As I watched my daughter chase her little ones around the playground, I was reminded why we have children when we’re young. I grew tired simply watching them, but it still offered great joy seeing them stretch their strong limbs, balance on the playground equipment, and herd each other down the slides.
Before we got in the car, the little guy wanted a picture in the bucket of the small front loader. He climbed into the bucket and insisted, “Take a picture of me.” While not yet 4, he’s developed an enthusiasm about all things truck-like and heavy equipment-like–thrilled beyond belief with each sighting. I get the same thrill when spotting a gorgeous bluebird, or seeing a cardinal flash across the snow.
And thus we build memories, forging connections between generations. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have this time to spend with my own children, and with the next generation as well. In the end, it doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as you do something, and everyone ends up (most of the time!) smiling.
Marjorie Turner Hollman
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and has completed two guides to Easy Walking trails in Massachusetts, “Easy Walks in Massachusetts 2nd edition,” and “More Easy Walks in Massachusetts.” A native Floridian, she came north for college and snow! On the board of directors of the Association of Personal Historians, she is a Certified Legacy Planner with LegacyStories.org, and is the producer of numerous veterans interviews for the Bellingham/Mendon Veteran’s History Project. http://www.marjorieturner.com