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Word Pictures from a Great Day with Grandsons

May 8, 2018

Another Way for week of May 4, 2018

Word Pictures from a Great Day with Grandsons

Since none of our grandchildren live nearby, we have not had as much opportunity to be grandparents for a day or overnight or help out as much as we’d like. Plus I am also still employed full time.

But one Saturday in April our daughter and son-in-law went to a daylong seminar on raising fruit trees, and we gladly kept their two little boys from about 8:30-5:30.

It was a good exercise to reenter that preschool world, with a four-and-a-half-year-old and a tyke who just turned two.

We had visited their house on Easter and the older boy was very sad when we had to leave. We told him he would get to come to our house that week on Friday night. He quickly looked at the calendar, counted the days, and said “that’s not very far away!” So he looked forward to it all week.

The younger boy of course doesn’t get time concepts as well and Saturday morning, after his mommy and daddy left, he wore a sad face for a while. I sympathized and tried to cheer him up saying mommy and daddy would be back for supper. He cuddled and stroked the well-worn tail of his favorite stuffed animal, a zebra “Za-Za.”

I consulted my list of “things to do” and began to pull the different pieces of our old Fisher-Price airport out of the toy box. The youngest one is a big fan of “heh-copters” which often fly over their metropolitan community, so we found a “little person” figure to fly it, and the remaining pieces of our daughters’ much-loved set. The boys enjoyed it, but that lasted like, five minutes.

We played with a mechanical train the older boy brought along, and fixed it when it came apart. Both sets of our grandchildren have lots of wooden trains and tracks (Thomas the Tank Engine variety) at their homes, but the battery-operated train didn’t provide hours of fun like arranging and rearranging trains and track as the Thomas trains do.

Then we settled on Zingo, a Bingo version for little ones that was perfect even for the two-year-old. I think we played two or three rounds before they were ready to move on.

Another hit was the bouncy balls I bought them—light and small enough they could throw or roll carefully—but then that got a little wild too.

One wanted to play in the playhouse my dad originally built, and the older went with his grandpa to the garage to do some hammering of nails and other explorations. But what he really loved was “helping” Grandpa fire up the woodstove. He showed me how the flames went up using his hands—and of course Grandpa was careful to teach safety.

Meanwhile in the kitchen, I prepped veggies for my favorite homemade vegetable soup, under the theory that our daughters were always more willing to try food they helped prepare. I let the two-year-old have a plastic knife and some partially cooked (blanched) garden carrots that I unthawed from the freezer. I supervised as he tried to cut those up for the soup. He was moderately successful. But Grandma was not successful in getting him to at least try the soup. He loves lentils, rice and other yummy creations from his Pakistani caregiver at her home, but very stubborn about not liking vegetable soup, just like his mommy said.

Which leads us to: willfulness. We have a nice little play table with two tot-sized folding chairs and they often center their table activities there. Then I caught the older one using an ink pen (left there by grandma) writing on the top. I scolded him mildly so he would know he was not supposed to write on the table, only on paper or coloring books. So I was especially disappointed when I discovered an even longer trail of ink on that table after they went home. I had to think of the walls my children wrote on—like children everywhere, or the day my toddler unrolled an entire roll of toilet paper at her caregiver’s house.

Don’t take any of this as a complaint of this dear day, but an acknowledgement that for most of us as adults, raising children takes energy, imagination, creativity and presence —and those things can come at the price of activities we might be doing otherwise. We make the sacrifices as parents because of the overarching love and commitment we have for our children—and years later wonder how the precious years ever went by “so fast.”

We all can use reminders that no matter what age of folks we’re around, big or little, the gift of presence—truly listening, engaging, interacting with our loved ones and especially new friends—are moments to remember and treasure.

Here are some great activity ideas I found and downloaded as a photo. If you click on it, it should enlarge to where you can read it.


For my free book, Working, Mothering, and other “Minor” Dilemmas (Word Books, 1983) with many stories from the growing up days of our children, send $3 for postage to Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA. (Amazon also has links to used copies here.)

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  


  1. Beverly Silver permalink

    wonderful entry, Melodie! I even printed off the Summer Bucket list – Just to have! Thanks, Beverly

    • I imagine it brought back a few memories of days when you were taking care of Ben and Andrew. I have new empathy for grandparents taking care of their little ones full time. You did an absolutely terrific job, obviously. 🙂 And their parents did too.

  2. How exciting that you got to spend a whole day with the little ones. (And I’ll bet you slept VERY well that night!) I’m in Texas and the grandsons are in Arizona, so I have to travel and go visit them. I wish we were closer! But know about the energy levels – that’s why God gave the children to the younger ones. I sure couldn’t run all day like that now. I agree with you about how fast the time went by. I was just potty training my youngest and keeping the oldest from coloring on the walls – and now both boys have given me a grandson that’s doing the same.

  3. Awww, thanks for sharing. We are at much the same place in life, and now I’m recognizing your pen name! 🙂 So you have two grandsons?

    We got to travel from New Mexico and home to Virginia through the north end of Texas one year–but that’s a big state. So I know you live a distance heading to Arizona. That seems to be the way it is for many of us as grandparents these days, but we can be glad they are as close as they are. Ours live 2 hours and 6.5 hours away. Thanks for commenting!

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