Sunday, June 14, 2015

A wonderful day

It rolls around every year. Just shows up like Christmas or Thanksgiving. It's not on your calendar. At least not the way it is on mine. Some people hate the day. Some people ignore the day. Some others grab hold of it and work it from dawn to midnight. I personally embrace the day. What a wonderful day. What a glorious, wonderful day.

I am on the countdown to my birthday. As usual, it gives me time to look back over the years and remember birthday parties and other celebrations. Oh, wait, we didn't have birthday parties. I only remember one celebrated when I was about ten. According to my sister June, that was the only party any of the Loxley girls got to enjoy with friends and cake. Dickie Neff, Larry Spitler, Donna Puterbaugh, Vivian Force, Brenda Stager, Mary Martindale, Marilyn Unger and a few more kids were on hand to watch me turn 10. I don't really remember it well, but I have pictures to prove that it did take place. As I aged, my family remembered me on my special days. Dinner out, presents bought by Daddy, cards colored by children were very special celebrations. Yesterday James, Lisa and the twins took me on a picnic. Now, that's a party!

I am in good company in this being born in 1947. Here are just a few famous people who are aging on my same age plan: Susan Sarandon, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Richard Dreyfuss, Kevin Kline, Glenn Close, Ted Danson, David Bowie, Rob Reiner, Cindy Williams, Jane Curtin, Meat Loaf, David Letterman and Stephen King. I think we all look pretty good for our ages. I am blessed to be poor enough to not have a face lift. My upper lip still moves when I talk. My hair is grey, and I love it. My figure is less than perfect, but this old body has delivered two beautiful children and has had a good journey with me. All in all, I think I've aged well.

There is a misnomer about aging. The overall attitude is that older people are stuck in the past and their knowledge is obsolete. Uh, uh. The older you get the more you learn. Knowledge adds up like new words in a dictionary. We add and add over the years tossing out what is outdated and ridiculous. We relish the opportunity to learn more and to be wiser. We understand the thrill of learning, changing, growing in wisdom. I think that years of age should be tossed aside. We are all on the same path to become the most we can be at all ages.

Grandparents in this day and age are much different than those in the time of my parents. We are active. We live longer. We have more opportunities to reach out in this world and make a difference. We have seen wars. We have seen what prejudice can do to humanity. We expanded our knowledge and stepped away from old beliefs into knew understanding. We went from lack of TV to computers. We went from the old gas guzzling sedans to the environmentally smart car. No longer do we bury and burn trash. We recycle and cherish this earth we live on knowing that resources are not all renewable. We are those who say yes to change. We are not old.

A baby was born on June 16, 1947. She had blond curly hair and chubby cheeks. She grew into a little girl who observed all and became a teenager who questioned. Later she became mother and then grandmother. She hit the wall many times, learning to pick herself up and learn from her mistakes. With a mind full of words, she became a writer, hoping to reach out and make the understanding of one another a little bit better.

My birthday is marked on my calendar. I'm not sure why. I know it's my birthday. You don't have it on yours, and I don't have yours on mine, but I love sharing this journey of life with you.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

What is a grandma?

We sat on the beach towel under the tree in the backyard. The only patch of shade. Naps were over. Snack was eaten. Awake and lively, my job was at hand. So what does a grandma do? What are her responsibilities? From where does she pull her knowledge on how to entertain twins almost-three-year-olds.

I never babysat when I was young. Little kids made me nervous. My mom babysat for everyone and didn't have time for her own kids. I raised my kids by the book (literally) and by the seat of my pants. They were indeed the test field for what little knowledge I had accumulated over my 25 years of life.

So now I have been through two older granddaughters ages 13 and 16. I loved my time with them and was busy learning what it is to be a grandma. Throughout those years, the girls raised me well. Now here I am with two little ones. Different parents. Different rules. I seem to be the only constant in this journey into children.

We blew bubbles most of the morning and into the afternoon. The kids tired of it, but I was on a roll. I could blow bubbles larger than their heads. I watched the progress of each enormous globe until it drifted out of view or rain down soapy droplets. I seemed to be the only one fascinated with the marvel of wind and bubble. Emma decided that we needed a bit of make-believe. She feigned illness needing to sleep. Of course, Nolan followed suit. After about three seconds she popped up and informed me that she felt better but not completely (of course) while Nolan just played along. We had make-believe breakfast then nap. Make-believe breakfast, lunch and snack. They loved it. I wanted to go back to blowing bubbles, but Emma and Nolan wanted to continue. It was time of interaction.

So what were we learning from this? I discovered that I had no power over what we were playing. I discovered that the children's make-believe is completely based on life events. Emma knew her illness dialogue as well as that she heard from her parents. I learned that Nolan followed everything his sister did and loved it. Most of all, I learned that by participating in this game of sleep and eat, they understood that MeMe had an imagination and could be part of their play. I could introduce new ideas and thoughts, and they were encouraged to express themselves. Creativity poured out of the little imaginations, and I met them there.

What is a grandma? She is a person who observes and creates means of teaching. She is creative and open to giving by putting herself aside. (I still wanted to blow bubbles.) She is always aware when doors open, creating a means of communication.

Each time the twins and I go into the yard, we check out the plants. Yesterday we gather (two each, of course) roses, jasmine, daphne and honeysuckles. They smelled each. Nolan opened an unopened flower from the honeysuckle blooms. We talked about the parts of the plants and looked at the bud compared to the full bloom. These twins are young yet took it all in. How much more can I teach them? It is an exciting time.

I am still growing as a grandma. I teach. They teach. I learn. They learn. We all benefit from this relationship. I think perhaps they will be better adults because of this time we spend together. Perhaps they will always seek to be creative and to learn about the world around them. I would like to think I do my job well.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Standing before me

Sometimes something random happens that stops you in your tracks. It sometimes takes your breath away. Today was one such day.

For the last two months, the twins have been taking a dance class. Each week their other grandma and I sit along the wall with young mothers watching the little ones dance. It has not been an easy class for we grandmoms to watch. A couple of the little girls love to pick on Nolan. Not sure why. It could be that they like the lone boy in the class or it could be his darling glasses. And week after week we have watched this little gentleman try to be patient and kind to some pretty bossy little girls.

It is interesting to watch the actions of the kids in the class. Emma and Nolan are thrilled to be there and savor every moment. Some children wander around the classroom while others refuse to dance. There is another set of twins in the class. Early on we realized that one of the twins was possibly autistic. She refused to interact and just couldn't stay with the program. Another teacher was brought in to help with the chaos of two to three year olds. Special attention was needed for this little one.

Today was the last day of class. We sat along the wall as usual. Emma lost a shoe, so we borrowed one from the teacher's lost and found. For some reason, both kids were a bit emotional. Each time they passed by one or both were on the verge of tears. We finally attributed it to the fact that we were so full of joy and laughter in watching them dance, that we didn't realize that it bothered them. Once we shaped up and watched with straight faces and encouragement, they did better. It was like there was something in the air. And, I know there was.

The little girl walked straight across the floor and stood in front of me. Her hands were curled and held up close to her chest. She just stood there looking into my face. And, for some unknown reason, I opened my arms to her. She curled into me laying her head on my shoulder. I wrapped my arms around her and lovingly patted her back. We sat like this for several minutes before she turned and nestled into my lap. Again, I wrapped my arms around her and laid my head against hers. We sat like that until almost the end of class. A child who was always wandered the room, rebelling against her mother, silent in a room full of children. She seemed to find peace in my arms....and I felt the love of God wrapped around us both.

I don't know the reason for her actions or mine. The remainder of the day has been in reflection of those minutes spent with this silent child. I thought of the God within all of us. That part of us that we don't wear often enough that says, "Come to me. I will give you peace." She knew I could give her something. I knew it as well.

Another mother sitting next to me leaned over and said, "That was precious." I knew then that I was not the only one touched by this experience. I was given a gift today. One that I shall replay over and over again. Standing before me was God.