The Gift of Days

Recently I had the opportunity to spend much more time with my four grandchildren than I normally do.  It was difficult and exhausting and oh!, so beautiful all at the same time.  They are still small, six, four, two, and one.

The oldest is a great helper who once informed me that he has to do about seventy percent of all the things at their house.  This seemed a rather precise amount, though he was not forthcoming regarding how he had arrived at the number.  He also questions a fair amount of what I say and I have to keep my wits about me to stay a step ahead of him.  It’s impressive how much he knows about how his household runs, how the appliances work, where stuff is located, the way his parents do things, the likes and dislikes of his siblings.

Oldest and Youngest

Next is a nearly five year old boy who creeps into my room for cuddles, reminding me each time of how Hannah chewed the antennae off his favorite stuffed animal, the one he’d forgotten in my room one day a couple of years ago.  He mentions how much he liked those antennae and I once again tell him Hannah sometimes can’t tell the difference between a dog toy and a stuffed animal and that she never would have done it if she’d known how much he liked those antennae.  In addition to his stuffy, he loves trains and garbage trucks and emergency vehicles and construction equipment.

Nope, no antennae on that guy

My oldest granddaughter is nearly three and loves all girly things like nail polish and jewelry and always tells me I’m beautiful when I’m wearing a dress.  She has this amazing blond hair, thick and gorgeous, not the usual wispy hair of most kids her age.  Recently someone commented, “She’s going to get anything she wants, isn’t she?”  Yeah.  Don’t be fooled by the package though, she’s not a delicate flower. She wears super hero costumes more than she wears her dresses and tutus, though she sometimes combines the two.  She doesn’t get pushed around by her big brothers, they’ve learned to ask her, not tell her, if they want a positive result. Every backpack, purse, bin, and suitcase in the house is filled with items she’s carefully selected from their assortment of toys.  If you’re missing something (like the aforementioned toy that’s missing it’s antennae), the first place to check is whatever backpack or suitcase she’s been carrying around that day.

Don’t let her demure pose fool you

The youngest exhausts me in every possible way.  She’s way too advanced for someone who turned one in just a couple of months ago.  She a visual learner, which means she watches absolutely everything her parents, brothers, and sister do and then does it herself.  Even when it’s a really bad idea.  She’s so tiny but will work at pulling herself up on a chair (or using a toy as a stepping stool) for as long as it takes to get up.  A couple of months ago, her parents found her on top of the piano. Sometimes she will cry out of frustration as she tries and tries to pull herself up, but she doesn’t stop.  Have I ever had that much drive and determination? 

As I watch them, I wonder if I will get to see them grow into adults, if I will see them learn to drive, go to dances, or graduate from school and/or college. Will their childhood passions turn into grown up jobs and will I reminisce about how they loved that even when they were small?  Will my grandsons walk their little old G down the aisle before they marry their beautiful bride?  Will I be there to watch my granddaughters put on their wedding dresses?  Will I get to hold any great-grandchildren?

These thoughts never occurred to me when I was a Mom myself.  Back then I had the naive confidence that I would see my boys do all those things because it never occurred to me that it could be otherwise. Today I know that life is fragile and things don’t always happen the way I think they should.  Now I take a lot less for granted and am thankful for every chance I get to read a story, push a swing, cuddle, build stuff out of Legos, play board games, have a tea party, sing and dance, play tag, jump on the trampoline, build train tracks, walk to the playground, do a science experiment, watch a movie, and rock a little one to sleep.  Since I can’t know the number of days, gifts that I have left, may I treat each one as if it were the most precious.