We took our three oldest grandchildren, Henry, Laura and Will to Auburn last weekend, leaving behind Baby Andrew and the two sets of parents. Sometimes the holidays are just too hectic to get in a good visit with this next generation. Granny and I arranged to have them all to ourselves.
We made in time to go to Taco Mama’s for a good fix of Mexican food before heading to the Auburn Arena for a Gymnastics Meet between Auburn and the University of Iowa. It is fun to watch how they refine and develop their understanding of this particular sport as they get older.
The next morning we had, at their request, Granddaddy’s Cheese Grits along with eggs and plenty of bacon. No rules when they are with us. After that, all three decided they wanted to go with me walking around campus. I walked and they ran as we covered several miles. With no students on campus it was like their own big urban playground.
Ice skating was the next item on the agenda. I am now old enough and wise enough to know that I was going to be watching this from the sideline. It did not take long before all three of them had learned the ropes. I captured video of some graceful skating along with some bruising falls. The difference is kids just get right back up and go at it again, whereas it would have required a paramedic to help me up after one of those falls.
We gave out of time to have lunch before heading to the theater, so we decided that we would have buttered popcorn, candy and a soda for lunch. Mary Poppins Returns was the featured film and gave me an opportunity for a brief nap in the darkness of the theater.
After a proper lunch at four in the afternoon we headed home. I asked them what their favorite activity of the weekend was. Henry and Laura both responded they liked the walk with Granddaddy. In fact, they wanted to know if we had enough time to do it again before we left.
I must tell you that was a prized moment for me. It is tough to compete these days with iPads, Minecraft and Netflix for the attention of your grandchildren. My own treasured relationship with my grandparents was in a simpler time. You talked because, well, there often was not much else to do.
As we took them home and did the obligatory good-byes, it seemed to me that the hugs were just a little bit tighter. They are entering that brief time when you can hold their attention, if only for a little while, and perhaps show them a world they may not otherwise see.
They want to go back before the ice rink closes at the end of January. They also want to take another walk, perhaps longer this time. As I try to get my head around this retirement thing, you can bet I will make sure that happens.
After all, what could be more important or special at this point in my life than taking a walk with my grandchildren?
Dan Ponder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org