Posts Tagged ‘grandchildren’

Merry Christmas! The stage is set, but Christmas won’t arrive until my family comes home!  Thank you God for everything.

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by Aggi Stevenson 

The snow was coming down quickly. School let out early on the day my five-year-old grandson Aaron and his four-year-old brother, Blake were to spend the night. Aaron, proudly wore a Christmas Bell necklace he made in kindergarten earlier that day. I admired his necklace assuring him he did a fine job crafting it. He beamed with pride and I pretended not to notice all the beads were on one side of the bell. Hey, it was his necklace so there was no wrong way to make it.

Even though the boys are four and five years old, I still get nervous when they are noticeably quiet. I have flashbacks of the day I noticed they had gotten quiet and couldn’t find them. Calling them repeatedly, didn’t reveal the boys where abouts. We have a large pond behind our home and I panicked at the thought of them going out the door and into the pond. Racing to the back deck, there was no sign of them. My heart thumped hard in my chest. I was scared to death. I went back into the house frantically searching  under beds, in closets and behind furniture while hysterically calling their names. No answer. I found them crouched behind a chaise lounge in the formal living room. That room is not exactly kid friendly and they are not allowed to play in it. I suppose they heard me coming and quickly jumped behind the chaise to keep from being scolded. I was so glad to see them, I cried. They both stood by, gently stroking my hair, as I dropped to my knees weeping with joy. After some time had passed, I sat them down and told them how scared I was when I couldn’t find them and they would not have been trouble. I was just checking on them to make sure they were okay. They agreed to never clam up at my hysteria again.

As the snowy evening wore on, I moved between writing on the computer, doing fun things with the boys and cooking. If you call DiGiorno pizza cooking. Occasionally, I would leave the keyboard and go see what they were doing. They were especially drawn to the lighted ceramic village with the miniature mailbox, sledders, carolers and trees adorning it. I cautioned them about picking up the pieces and dropping them on the tile floor because they are breakable. I told them they could look at them and pick them up, but not to take them from the counter top they were on.  They seemed pleased with getting to play with the pieces according to the Nana rules.

When Aaron spilled a drink on his sweater vest, he was more concerned with his bell necklace getting wet than his clothing.  Blake looked at me with a twinkle in his black eyes, “Aaron made that necklace for you, Nana.”  Aaron’s wide eyes and down-turned lips told me there was not a word of truth to that assumption.  “I couldn’t take your Christmas bell. You’ve worked hard on that.” I said, removing the wet vest. Aaron smiled. “You can wear it until the morning.”  He took it off and placed it around my neck.  “Are you sure, Sugar?”  He was sure. He wanted me to enjoy wearing it but  made it clear I was to return it.  I proudly wore it around the house, making frequent trips to check on the boys. 

I thought you had to get up pretty early in the morning to fool me. After all, I did raise the boy’s father. He is the one that put real meaning into checking on children when they are quiet. As I popped a Pizza in the oven, I noticed my miniature ceramic mailbox, sledders and carolers in a gondola car going around the train track in the adjoining family room. The boys were sweetly drawing on a Doodle Pro. They were even taking turns, writing and then magically clearing their work and beginning again. 

 I let them watch TV in my bed but they are not allowed to have food or drink anywhere but the dining/kitchen  area. I noticed a cup of hot chocolate, now cold, sitting on my night stand.

 Colorful Goldfish crackers peeked out from the sofa cushions that looked as though they had been jumped on. I used to let them jump on the sofa when they were tiny but they are too big for that now.

When were they breaking all these rules? I had kept a close watch on them. They had been really good. I had not caught them in the bedroom with hot chocolate or in the living room with crackers. I didn’t know when they removed the ceramic figures from their perch and didn’t hear them jumping on the sofa. How could this be?

Then it hit me. The Christmas bell around my neck telegraphed my coming! Each time they heard the bell, they simply busied themselves with some acceptable behavior. As they heard the tinkling bell moving away, they resumed their forbidden activity. I was nothing more than the cat with the bell around it’s neck signaling his coming to the mice.

I had to laugh at myself. Hmm…they are going to be like their father. Maybe it’s true. Your children will pay you back for all the things you did to your mother! I could hardly keep a straight face as I asked them to return the ceramic figures to their place, reminded them the rules about eating in the kitchen only, had not changed and I expected the sofa cushions to be returned to the same order they were in when they arrived. They gladly obeyed. I took the Christmas bell off and laid it on the table. I thanked Aaron for letting me wear it and told him it sure was a fine necklace. He seemed pleased to remind me, “I said you could wear it until the morning.”   “Not a chance!” Is what I thought, but I said,  “Oh. I will put it back on later.”

Later never came.

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by Aggi Stevenson

My son called and asked if I would like some overnight company, speaking of his four and five-year-old sons. The snow had started a couple of hours earlier and showed no signs of slowing down.  Everything was already gleaming white. We don’t get much snow so I was a little surprised. I imagined him and his boys hibernating for the weekend. “Don’t you want to be snowed in with them?”

Actually, he wanted to go four-wheeling in the snow in his Jeep. He was hoping to meet up with some friends and wanted me to be snowed in with the boys. I asked him to give me an hour and then bring them because I was pretty busy at the moment. 

I took that hour to hide Christmas presents and then stretched out on my bed and stared at the ceiling. Resting. The calm before the storm of Power Rangers, Thomas the Train, Spiderman, wrestling, splashing baths and Batman pajamas. Making Pizza. Them asking for something else and me crazy enough to do it.

The doorbell rang and they were running around in the snow like mini maniacs. My son was quick to wish me luck and leave. I let them stay out as long as they wanted, watching them from the window. When they realized they were human popsicles, they came in.

They never agree on what to eat but Pizza hit the spot, even though one of them ate all the pepperoni off half the entire pizza.  They wanted hot chocolate but I didn’t have any or so I thought. I remembered seeing cocoa in the cabinet. The recipe for hot chocolate was on the side of the can.  I let them pour in the ingredients before heating it on the stove. They thought I actually cooked hot chocolate instead of using a package. They were impressed.

They couldn’t get over the snow and wanted to go back out but it was getting dark. I opened the door leading to the deck, showing them how to catch snow flakes on their tongues. They scooped some up and ate it. Before letting all the heat out of the house, I thought this was an excellent teaching moment. Crouching down beside them, I warned them of something very important to remember the rest of their lives.  When eating snow, you may encounter some pretty yellow snow. Even though you will be drawn to it, don’t eat it! No matter what!  Wish someone had warned me when I was little.

Later, my daughter called and asked me to look up Snow Cream recipes on my computer. She was going to make snow ice cream with her children. I thought I would do the same with the boys.  Once again we opened the deck door and each scooped up a bowl of pure white (no yellow) snow, dumping it in the large metal mixing bowl. Yes, in their excitement they made a mess pouring in the milk, sugar and vanilla flavoring. But as they stirred it, you would have thought they were world-renowned chefs. They ate two bowls each.

I must admit I was pooped when bedtime came.  They looked so tiny in my big king-size bed. Finally, they drifted off  to sleep just as I thought I couldn’t take hearing the Thomas the train song one more time. After kissing their cheeks and rubbing their foreheads, I sneaked away and entered the kitchen. It looked like a bunch of gremlins had been there.

 I loaded the dishwasher, picked us strewn toys and stepped over the elaborately designed train track my husband had put together. “What we won’t do for our grandchildren.”

When I was a young busy mother of three, there were days I thought I would lose my mind and wondered if they would ever grow up. The early mornings, late nights and up during the night, sapped my creativity. There were times I just wanted to get through the day. If I could just manage to get everything done I needed to do and not yell at my little ones, I would be doing good.

But they grew up way too fast. They didn’t need me during the night and they woke up on their own and went to bed on their own and before I knew it they were gone. The constantly ringing phone that used to drive me crazy sat still and only rang occasionally. The times I couldn’t hear myself think because all three teenagers decided to invite company over at the same time used to bug me. Then it got very quiet. It was really nice at first. Then the quiet became deafening.

And those extra curricular activities. Really. How did they expect me to be in three places at one time? I was nothing but a taxi driver. A slave to their every whim. Ballgames, ballgames and more ballgames. I was positive the print of the bleachers would be permanently etched upon my buttocks. I think somewhere along the line, the indentations popped back out as they began driving themselves where they wanted to go. They didn’t always want me to be where they were any longer. They didn’t need me. They just needed my money. Then. They didn’t even need me for that.

I was finally free. Free to do what I wanted to do. Go where I wanted to go when I wanted. Stay as long as I wanted and not come home at all if I so wished. I didn’t have someone else depending on me to run to them in the middle of the night when they were scared, rock baby dolls to sleep at nap time, serve tea in tiny cups, reattach wheels to their favorite toy car, read stories, dry tears, apply band aids, cook, teach them to drive, wash uniforms, and give advice.  This is what I always wanted. Especially on those days when all I did was break up fights, argue, threaten to ground, participate in shouting matches and cry myself to sleep at night. 

Yes, motherhood was the hardest thing I ever did. I was glad when it was over. I was so glad when they were all gone, I used to sit in my son’s room and try to remember what it was we used to fight over. I couldn’t remember anything worth fighting over. I do remember thinking everyday with him was a privilege. He was my first-born and we grew up together. Always a good kid. Loved sports. Made good grades. Now he was a sailor in United States Navy. I was so proud of him.

I was  glad my daughter was gone too. You know what they say about the middle child. I was the middle child in my family too come to think of it. Maybe that was why we were so much alike. I would go into her closet and hold her Greater Beckley Christian School cheerleading uniform close to my heart. I thought I could still smell the light scent of the perfume she used to wear but that could’ve been my imagination.  She was in Knoxville now preparing to go to the University of Tennessee. Strong. Opinionated. Honest and hard-working. I was so proud of her.

I would make my way across the hall to my other son’s room. I was glad he was gone. He was the baby. The last one to leave. I always called him my wild child. I guess it was because he was my wild child. He danced to a different drummer and if you didn’t like it, well that was just too bad. He brought more anger and laughter into our family than I could ever put into words. I wish I had not been so busy trying to conform him and just enjoyed him instead. He was in Roanoke now working in a chemical plant. I was so proud of him.

After they were gone, I had some lonely days. The mother in me still cried for my children. Some days I cried until my head ached. I just wish someone had told me the days with them would be gone much too quickly. I wondered if I seized the opportunity to  write wonderful things upon the pages of their memories. Oh God. I meant to. I wanted to. Was I so stressed, they will remember me that way? Was I a screamer? Was I too busy to spend time with them? Did I brush them off when they begged me to play with them? 

Then, thank God, the grandchildren came. A second chance. In my case I am proud to say, nine second chances!

As my children see me with their children they want to know, “What happened to the woman who raised us?”   It’s harder to say no to my grandchildren. Things that used to be big things are really nothing. I cherish them. I love them. I adore them. I think each one is great and wouldn’t change them for anything. I feel blessed when they are around me. I miss them when they are not around me. I think of them always. I want only good for them. I feel as though God has given a part of my children back to me. I am thankful.

I pray God will allow my children to realize how quickly their children will grow up and before they know it, they too will be gone. May they seize every moment possible to write wonderfulness upon the pages of their memories.

My deepest prayer is that we all meet in heaven one day. Not one left behind.  Where there will be no more separation. No more growing up and leaving home. God is able. Until then, may we seize every moment to write wonderfulness upon the pages of the memories of our children and grandchildren.

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