Saturday, August 30, 2014

Like a firefly

Like a firefly, it caught my eye. As quickly as it flashed its yellow light, it disappeared. Yet the memory of that firefly stays with me forever. Mom would punch holes in the top of a jar so the little bugs could breathe. Around the yard we ran chasing them. The little light would flash, I would run a quickly as possible to capture the firefly, and when the light went out, I stood clueless as to where the tiny target had gone. Like a firefly, it caught my eye.

We try to hold on to it, but it flits away, this illusive thing called time. We capture the memories, placing them into a jar of yesterdays only to find that they flit in and out of our lives like little yellow lights on the tail of time gone by. Memories. We can keep them, relive them, cherish them, but the memories are not the same as the real thing.

Darn it, life just goes too quickly. The twins who were babies two years ago have gone from wordless wonders into toddling marvels full of new words. I am aware of time when I am with my grandchildren. I am aware that I cannot save it for another day. I cannot take it out when I need more nor can I store it in a cupboard in reserve for a time when needed. I have been blessed to have my four grandchildren together this summer. Watching these children interact pleases me to no end. I see the adults that they will become caring for one another, keeping the family history alive and in the memories they will share, in that jar with the holes on top. However, I find that as adults we tend to forget about our place in their memories.

Forgive me, but I dislike the family gatherings where the children sit at their own little table. I cringe when I see them separated out. Yes, I was a farm kid and in the middle of the family table. On large family gathering, the men sat in the kitchen and the women in the living room around a card table. I got to sit with the women yet sometimes found myself on my dad's lap in the kitchen. I learned from these adults. I learned about my family, about the neighborhood, about things that I was yet to understand. More importantly, I learned that I was not an age, a child to be set aside. I was indeed recognized as an equal part of the family.

When my children were small, I remember reading that it was important to realize what children see. These small beings who wrapped in swaddling look up into our faces seeing noses and chins or in a bed looking at ceiling and bed rails. A toddler who wraps small fingers around your hand only able to see knees and things closer to the ground. It doesn't take much to realize how the child feels. Emma wants up. She wants to see the world. Nolan climbs up as high as he sometimes feet in my face so he can get a glimpse of what I can see. In the car, I look into the rear view mirror and see my children watching the back of the seat in front of them. What do they see? What do they hear? What do they learn?

I wanted to change all that. I want the same for my grandchildren. A car is the perfect place to sing and tell stories, to look out the window at the marvels we pass, to interact through games and find delight in the company of one another. When families gather, I always try to be aware of the children. Yes, sometimes they cry for attention. Who wouldn't when adults are concerned with adult conversation, ignoring the children who should be happy just to play. We are social creatures at all ages. We learn to be adults by the way we are treated as children. I have found over the years that some of the most enjoyable friends I have gathered were children when we first met. Looking at a child and seeing them as a equal teaches them to care about others. Eye contact, a touch, sharing conversation with even a toddler puts more light in that jar with the holes on top.

My mother knew this. She always had time for children. They stayed in her life even as they grew up and had families of their own. Mom knew that it was important to recognize all people. Mom knew that sometimes she had to step away to give attention to the child and let the adults do without her for a while. She included children in all she did. She respected the child. Mom knew that as with a firefly, the season of life is short. Memories are gathered...those that just flight by for a moment.

I am not a grandma who stands on the side and watches the children. No, you will find me on the floor becoming part of the memories of my grandchildren. Grandparenting is not a spectator sport. Like a lightening bug, it catches my eye, this illusive light called life.

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