Today, in my eighties, I miss those grandkids. For several years, I had the pleasure of dropping everything else and playing with four or more boys for five days every other week. They grew like weeds - much too fast. Cole is nearing graduation at New York University. Peter is on spring break from Edinburgh University, visiting Morocco, Ireland and Italy. Oliver and Christopher will graduate from Rock Bridge High School and will be in universities next year. We’ll keep in touch - they’ll remember those days at the farm.
One afternoon after Walt came to take the boys home, I rested by writing this about that particular day at "Granny’s Day Camp."
You worry about the younger generation if you want to, but count me out. The five little boys in my sand pile this afternoon proved that they’re industrious, hard-working and creative go-getters.
They arrived, "sort of hungry," and I fixed cinnamon toast and milk; at noon, the beef roast, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans and baked yellow squash disappeared quickly. This is "Granny’s Day Camp," a play-it-by-ear time when we hike and learn and explore. Various days we decide to catch crawdads, play in the hay barn, swim, row, fish, read, pull weeds, wade, mix clay, hoe in dirt or hunt fossil rocks in a little stream. Those are essential boy things.
We enlarged the sand pile recently, and Chub went for a load of sand. "Can we go swimming?" Not unless the rain stops and the thermometer climbs about 15 degrees. "Can we watch TV? It’s The Flintstones." For my own convenience, I left them, stretched out, belly down, with this electronic babysitter for an hour. It’s hard to break the TV trance, especially on a drizzly afternoon. But the boys know that our TV is rarely used in daytime except for news and weather.
It was a shock to boy number five, a guest, when I turned the set off at the end of the program. All were disappointed, of course, but soon we were on the porch around a big table making snakes, turtles and turkeys out of clay. The rain changed to drizzle and quit just as Chub got back from the lumberyard with a thousand pounds of clean sand. We found four shovels, and the older guys vied for positions in the truck, two pushing the sand out and two spreading it around in the box. The 6-year-old used a hoe to pull the sand to the corners of the big new sandbox. I never saw a truck unloaded so fast. No one got hurt, and the sand was just damp enough to pack beautifully. Down went the shovels and up went a huge castle, each of the five having a part in building it.
Everybody talked at once as they showed Chub, Walt and me their trap doors, bridges, secret passages, tunnels and dungeons. "You guys don’t tell me about any happy people," I said. "All I hear about is ‘bad guys’ falling into traps and ‘enemies’ plunging down into dungeons." The boys just grinned. They had heard that before.
This generation has wonderfully creative toys, but children still like ageless ones. Tinker Toys, clay, acorns, toads, books and dominoes - all are as much fun as sand. That electronic noise box can’t compete with our day-camp things, once the spell is broken.
No, I’ll not worry about the younger generation; I shall, however, worry about adults who miss some wonderful moments, memories in the making, when they quiet a noisy group of children by saying, "Go see what’s on."