Recently we took our five-year-old grandson to a burger place (the one where you can get in and out quickly). As he dived into his fries, he bit his finger.
"How did that happen?" I asked. "Maybe you should slow down."
He shrugged. "The French fry was too short."
Well there you go. Makes sense.
A couple of months before that I was tying his shoes when I noticed that one shoelace had been snipped off and was significantly shorter than the other.
"What's this about?" I asked.
"I tied it to my car seat," he explained. "My mom couldn't get the knot out."
Then there was the day he looked out an upstairs window into the neighbor's back yard and saw three little girls, probably ten years old, jumping on a trampoline.
"Can I go jump with them?" I think he was appalled that fun was happening without him. He hadn't even been notified.
"No, those girls are a lot older than you," I said. "And you don't know them."
He heaved a sigh of longing and disappointment. “Life is very boring when you don't have a trampoline.”
I've learned and relearned a lot of stuff about kids and the universe since I became the grandparent of this boy. Here are a few:
When you are eating M and M's, it's important to have one of every color, and two extra of your favorite color (in this case, blue).
When playing a game, weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth ensues if the grandson loses, even if it was fair and square. This is followed by a short lecture on being a good loser, which is followed by another round of the game in which the grandson is allowed to win. It's okay, because the odds favor this outcome anyway, right?
Even though said grandson goes to sleep on his own at home, when staying overnight at Grandma's house it's required for Grandma to sit outside the bedroom door while he falls asleep and every two minutes answer the question, "Are you still there?"
When parents come to pick up the grandson, it fills your heart with a certain joy when he doesn't want to leave. Even though you're usually ready to say goodbye, but looking forward to the next time you see him.
Finally, here is one of many scientific facts regularly bestowed on me, because this grandson loves science: "A galaxy is a group of stars holded together by gravity." I don't believe I really understood that before.
At the end of this week, my grandson starts kindergarten. I know that his life will be busier now. So the two of us took a walk on the nature trail at Lodi Lake, just blocks from our house. We'd been there a couple weeks ago with his little brother, but it was kind of rushed, so I wanted to let him have extra time to look for minnows in the stream and watch for turtles in the river, and find freshwater clam shells in the shallows. We saw swallowtail butterflies, geese, ducks and squirrels. And a whole school of minnows.
It was bittersweet. On the one hand, it's time for him to know the wider world, to meet new people, and to realize that you don't always get the extra blue M & Ms. I can't wait for him to learn to read, and discover the incredible world that awaits him.
The slightly bitter part is that he's growing up and eventually away. The days will soon pass when he arranges his tall-for-a-five-year-old self on my lap so we can read “Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus.” In the near future he won't willingly let me hold his hand when we cross the street. The time is coming when he won't let me kiss him goodbye. It's a cliche, but cliches are true: it's all going by too fast.
But he'll always be my grandson, and I'll always be his grandma. Take that, kindergarten.
LINDA OPP is a freelance writer and a pianist/accompanist. She has published numerous stories for children, and recently finished writing a fiction series for Pockets Magazine. She has a husband, two married kids, three wonderful grandsons, and a cat. She loves reading, cooking, eating, watching movies, hanging out with her husband, going for walks, and being a grandma.