Remember how you got shipped off to your grandparents when you were a kid? Maybe you were kind of excited but also not so sure about how fun it could really be. Because the toys were different, the food was different and the rules were very different. And maybe home with Mom and Dad wasn’t so bad after all. But, without any say in the matter, you went and trusted that these people had to be OK because they are kind of your parents, too. Then, as the days passed, and you bumped along in their musty sedan and stopped at their favorite donut shop and stared up at those crinkly, familiar faces, you found a new kind of love and routine and comfort. They became your home, too.
The time I spent with my grandparents was such a gift and, as much as I hated the mystery jello salad and ran into my mother’s arms, grateful to go home, after the weeks had passed — they wove themselves into my heart and my history.
My grandparents were parents at a different depth and breadth. They were my parents to the next degree. They stood one step above the pedestal my parents existed on and their opinion had a certain weight because, well, they were the boss of my parents. And THAT was cool.
Since I’ve gone back to work, my father has graciously offered to come down for a week at a time when I’ve needed help with childcare. We call that time “Camp Gramp” and I hand over the keys to my car, my pool pass, my two children and all of my trust. And off they go.
I know how lucky they are for grandparent time. Grandparents don’t always live right nearby. And sometimes they leave us far, far too early.
(I can’t help but think about all I need to catch my mother up on. I suspect she knows in some way but she is still missing so much. And it breaks my heart.)
So back to Camp Gramp. This Spring Break, they took Tampa by storm. They revisited the SS American Victory, spent an entire day at The Florida Aquarium, splashed their afternoons away at the pool, leapt waves the beach, spotted animals at the zoo, got haircuts, watched Harry Potter movies over and over and, well, snuggled a whole lot.
I keep thinking (hoping) that they are relearning the world a little differently from the way I have taught them during those short periods of time. And maybe they are learning to love my dad the way I do. I want my boys to KNOW him and get him. And build their own kind of relationship that is different to theirs and mine. I want theirs to be the kind that gets Skittles at the gas station but also knows how the sound my father’s voice can get if one of them pitches a fit at the zoo.
It makes me wish all of my family were closer. The other grandparents and all the various aunts and uncles they have scattered here and there. But that’s OK. Because when they DO see them, those relationships solidify a little more with every visit and those routines develop in a matter of days because kids LOVE routines and predictability and the constant of those people that are the boss of their parents and so so familiar.
I’ll take what I can get and cherish every second they get together and hope the memories are making themselves without me even really realizing it.
Thanks for Camp Gramp, Dad. I know how much work that was. But I love you and, even if they probably won’t ever love your New York Yankees, they sure do love you, too.