Despite what you see in most of my grandkid blogs, our time with them isn’t all walks in the woods, teachable moments, and kids say the darndest things. We don’t have enough time together to get too annoyed or frustrated with each other, though it does happen. Like the third time we ask them to sit on the couch instead of bounce on it, to stop annoying their sibling, or not be so rough with us, or leave my phone alone, and please, NOT my glasses. They’re mostly willing to clean up, if not as they go then at the end of the visit, and do a fairly good job with a few reminders, some sleight of hand, a dash of manipulation, and ok, sometimes a bit of coercion.
Not exactly a walk in a forest.
We’re coping fairly well these days, quarantine-wise, but can’t get out into nature as much as I’d like. Recently we walked to the nearby parking lot of the local water district, where there are several cement parking blocks and curbs skirting the asphalt, and bonus! – an unlocked outhouse. This circuit invited them in, and somehow kept the kids challenged and engaged for an hour at a time until in desperation we begged them to move on, since we were freezing our butts off. I started balancing on the curbs with them but that was an accident waiting to happen. Our job instead was to help keep track of the numbers of “glitches” (times fallen off) as they try for a new record. We cheer them as they “fly” from one part to the next, help the older one keep track of laps, and hold the younger one’s hand as he negotiates the rounded edges and flying leaps, using his own creative counting system to keep up with his sister. Or most recently when he tired of that game, he used the odd building architecture as a climbing wall. Having trusty walking sticks with us is useful and, well, when you’re six you want to hit just about everything with it. Everything is a palette for play.
I try to remain engaged and not stare at my phone, but sometimes it just gets a little boring by the seventh time around the perimeter. I gaze up the tops of the evergreens surrounding us and imagine the woods that were once there. If I ignore the asphalt under my feet I can almost pretend that we are indeed in the woods, and cars are not whizzing past. Almost. These are not Instagram moments.
I try to be patient with the six year old’s table manners, but finally in a weak moment told him what generations of parents have told kids – that one day he might be invited to eat with the Queen, and he wouldn’t want to embarrass himself by eating his noodles with his hands, or stuffing his mouth as full as possible. I had to explain the royal family to him, though I left out the part that there probably wouldn’t even be a royal family by the time he gets invited. But the idea stuck and transmogrified in his head, because weeks later he brought it up, saying, “When I have an eating contest with the Queen, I’ll probably win.”
Yesterday we had a day of blue sky with a mix of all the cloud types – wispy, bulbous, fluffy, and stormy (no, not the seven dwarfs’ names). Now the Weather People are predicting several days of snow later this week. And not like the dusting we had a few weeks ago, but nine inches one day, and seven the next. Though that keeps adjusting, up, down, sooner, later. I’ve learned that actually they have no real sense of it; we’ve been fooled over and over during our seven winters in Portland and it’s a bit of an in-joke among residents. Predictions, since we moved here, have included: no snow when threatened, lots of snow when none was predicted, and a big snow dump arriving early and leaving us unprepared and stranded – literally. It’s always exciting though, and we have readied the yard and house, found our shoe cleats, and are laying in groceries for the siege. (Did you know you can order groceries online? Ha. Late to the party as usual.)
Living on a hill makes snow more dramatic because we can’t get out once the road turns to ice – which it does because as melting starts uphill, it flows down our street, and freezes overnight. Compounded by kids on sleds, it compresses into one long dead-end icy slip and slide. Our street is only seven houses long, and we’re in the middle, so we usually see a bit of slapstick entertainment out the kitchen window as a few desperate drivers attempt to go up, only to slide back down to the bottom. The downside of snow is the grandkids can’t get here on the icy roads.
Fortunately we have few places to go, and during this quarantine, really none at all, so it’s just an excuse to read more books and try to finish the last season of The Good Wife, which isn’t getting better, though it was fun at the beginning. We did get out to visit some friends the other night, outside, distanced, and freezing. Alan fully expected his phone to sound an alarm telling us that we’d accidentally left our zip code and should turn back.
How much longer did you say?