Grandchildren are Exhausting Joys

Grandchildren are Exhausting Joys

Earlier this spring I invited my four and a half year old granddaughter Abby to spend a week with me this summer in Munds Park, She happily agreed. I knew behind my back the rest of the family was laying bets on what day she would insist on going home. She had visited the cabin with her parents and had stayed overnight at my place in Scottsdale, but a week was new territory.

I brought books and art supplies and stocked up on her favorite foods (watermelon and chicken nuggets.) I signed her up for Vacation Bible School. Although I’m Jewish, her family is Christian. They don’t go to church often and I figured she needed an introduction to Christianity and a dogma to later rebel against.

Her parents dropped her off on Saturday afternoon. We rested for a while, and then went to the pool. I got in with her and swam for an hour and a half. Then she made friends with some kids and I got out but kept an eagle eye on her. After another hour we went back to my cabin, took showers, and ate dinner at the Country Club. We watched the Lion King for a while. I lay down with her in her own bed, read her stories, told her a few, and sang her two lullabies. She was out like a light.

She got up at six the next morning, the same time as my dog Sparky and me. We all took a long walk, watched more of the Lion King, and had breakfast. We went into Flag to see the Judy Moody movie. She loved it! The rest of the day went like the day before.

On Monday morning she was more than ready for Vacation Bible School. She told me she was going to make new friends. By the time I left her with her teacher, I was ready for a rest myself. Abby is very well behaved, bright, cute, and creative. I had forgotten that everything revolves around kids. I knew I should write or read or do something productive while she was at school, but I found myself unable to do anything but drink tea, read the paper, and do the crossword puzzle. I guess if I was married, there would be two of us to share the caregiving.

The days flew by. She initiated a “project” of making a lioness out of a paper plate, sticks, pine needles, plastic bags stuffed with newspaper, rope, and styrofoam balls. I was amazed at her ingenuity.

On Tuesday morning we went for a walk in the forest with Sparky. She ran and tripped on a sharp rock and got a cut on her chest. She told me she had broken her heart. That was just the beginning of her accidents. She managed to step on glass and cut both of her big toes which bled profusely. Many tears. And that night she had the first of her meltdowns. By seven-thirty she was tired and missed her parents. She called them and cried when she got off the phone. Then she picked a fight with me (racing around on my office chair) and dissolved into tears and said she wanted to go home. I hugged her and told her that was fine, that I would take her in the morning. We read books, told stories, sang songs, and she went to sleep. The next morning she informed me that she wanted to stay.

Each night after that she had a meltdown. Each morning she would insist she wanted to stay. She enjoyed Vacation Bible School and we went to see the Judy Moody movie two more times. Yes, I’ am an indulgent granny. We baked cookies and ate ice cream.

On Friday morning, her last day, she told me she didn’t want to go home! I explained that her parents and baby sister missed her terribly. She went to school and I was happy to straighten up my cabin, pack her clutter in her many bags, and relax. Later that afternoon we met her parents and sister at the MacDonald’s at Cordes Junction. She had wrapped cookies for each of her parents and made cards to give them. It was a happy reunion and I got to hold the baby.

All in all it was a fantastic week. I never would have made it without the respite of Vacation Bible School. It took me two days to recover my energy and focus. I’m looking forward to her visit next year.

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