Archive for Thursday, May 31, 2007

Time, grandchildren march on

May 31, 2007

Graduation is over as well as Mother's Day, and Memorial Day will find many of us traveling to place flowers on loved one's graves (I am writing this previous to Memorial Day, thus my use of the future tense). And for all of those kids who packed up their "stuff" and said farewell to yet another school year -- school is out.

I said goodbye to Joan Hughes, the crossing guard at West Elementary School yesterday. We have become friends as I pass by her watch every morning and sometimes more than once on Tuesday and Thursday taking my grandson to the middle school for chess before school. We have devised many ways of communicating with hand signals. She looks at her watch if I'm early or late and holds up her hands in a questioning gesture if I haven't shown up for a few days or if I pass by more than three times in one morning.

Today, the first day of summer vacation, the signal light still flashes a 20 mph school zone, but there were no children scurrying to school or Joan with her stop sign leading them across the intersection.

Jon Miller, my neighbor and friend of my grandson, and I usually make it to the crossing at the same time each morning, but today he must be sleeping in and I'm hoping Joan is too.

Riffling through my file marked "Writing Stuff," I found a cartoon that seemed fitting to honor Joan as well as all of our crossing guards: it is from the "Family Circus" by Bil Keane. The cartoon features the little girl of the family, Dolly, arriving home from school with homework in hand and the caption reads: "Today Mrs. Clarke taught us a new commandment ... Honor thy teacher, principal and crossing guard."

The end of school in the past signaled the arrival of the long summer when I spent time with my grandsons who live in Eudora -- perhaps you remember the three G's -- Garrett, Gabe and Grant? I wrote columns based on our adventures and repeated funny and wise things they said to me and to each other when I was eavesdropping.

As we all know, there is a time when kids, especially boys, grow up over a summer. Along with the fact that their legs grow long, they also develop very busy lives that send them in many directions -- most of them not with Gramma. Now, this is not cause for alarm -- just a fact that seems to come too quickly and abruptly. Also, a reminder to both parents and grandparents about the swift passage of time.

With this in mind I found a short piece I wrote some time ago when the boys were still "little."

"Being Gramma, I love all the untidiness, surliness and bad temper of tired and hungry children as much as I love them full, happy and ready for a new day. I love the energy and the spirit -- the undying push to explore and touch to experience all wherever and whenever. My old bones and spirit draw energy by just being in their presence, which is something for over-worked parents to look forward to. I'm reminded of a TV serial where Grandpa touches the kid's heads hoping to draw on their energy and life like a transfusion into a tired battery or by making contact with the Energizer Bunny.

So we spend time at the movies and at the swimming pool where I'm teased about not putting my head in the water. We munch on Happy Meals and licorice sticks, and I settle arguments about who got more M&M's. (Have you ever counted M&M's as they melt in your hand?)

I find that the 6-year-old mind sees only black and white and is ever constant about all things equal -- gray definitely does not compute. Yes, we even examine the length of the licorice sticks. And then there is the oldest of the three who is now 10 and who insists he really is a teenager and ready for driver's ed. Some children only suffer childhood -- waiting for the magic of adulthood."

Fast forward to the present. The oldest of the G boys, Garrett, is now finally a teenager who still enjoys accompanying me to the bookstore occasionally if a special comic book might be purchased. The middle grandson, Gabe, is off to his baseball games and over-night stays with buddies. And the youngest, Grant, also prefers the company of his friends but recently suggested he just might be up for one more trip to the doughnut shop.

Time flies and kids grow up.

Yesterday, I was storing winter clothing away when a thought suddenly occurred, "Why bother," and I decided to read my book on the back patio instead. What the heck, it will be October before you know it.

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