One of the joys of grandparenting is having the time and energy to enjoy children. Naturally, I loved every minute when I was a parent, but, working full time while engaged in day in, day out parenting, several years of which my husband was attending post-graduate school out of town, I was so exhausted that when my kids would do something darling and wonderful it would register, but with more of a “If I wasn’t so tired, I would write this down in that book I started about how fantastic Kid Number One is, wherever I put the thing – and, did I ever start a book about Kid Number Two?”
Ah, but, when you’re a grandparent, you get, just as they say, all the good stuff and none of the bad. You’re not so tired you can hardly speak when they quip about being president of the world “Next year, when I’m four” or scream your name with delight every time you knock on their front door. You never get fatigued facilitating the making of Christmas cookies that look like they’ve been mangled by machines, and you are often absolutely speechless and energized when your grandchild, with all the innocence and purity of a new soul on earth, declares their undying love for one or both of their parents.
I’ve noticed this particularly when it comes to moss and crows. Ro, the eighteen-month-old, is enamored with crows, and every time she sees them, she’ll point and say, appropriately, “Caw, caw.” Now, even I get that’s not particularly precocious, but what it is deserves a mention.
What it IS: the prompt to stop, to notice, to revel in the glory of nature, crows included. It’s the looking about, the paying attention, the discovery of the world around us and the reminder of how beautiful, unexpected and glorious each bird, each insect, each human is in the grand scheme.
Clara, the three-year-old, is a dawdler, and, if I were her parent trying to make it home in time for dinner or bath, I know I would lose patience. But a walk with Clara is always a gentle notice of the extraordinary gift being in the moment, discovering. Often, while trying to move things along by playing “I Spy” about the things we’re just about to pass on the block, she will suddenly stop, pick up a leaf, and be so thrilled with her discovery of that leaf, which looks like a million other leaves, that it is absolutely magical. Or I’ll think she’s right behind me, but I’ll turn around and see that she’s squatting three feet back in that way that little children do that Nanas cannot do anymore, and she will be peering, in adoration, at a clump of moss. For Clara, moss is the most unexpected, glorious gift of nature – every time she sees it.
These gifts of crows and moss – simple and pure through the eyes of the beholder and discoverer, remain one of the continual joys of being a grandparent. Someday, twenty years from now, I just hope, while my then twenty-something grandchild takes me for a slow walk around the block, that they don’t lose patience with my meandering or rediscovery of creatures that fly or simple plants that reveal their extraordinary majesty by just being. Meanwhile, crows and moss, and, above all, grandchildren, are my ‘in the moment’ vehicles.