Charlotte swaggered down the hallway like she owned the place. The three-year-old was on another road trip but knew exactly where she was going. “That’s Brennan’s room,” She announced as she pointed to my office/Melanie’s old bedroom. Then she entered Sharon’s office/Brian’s old bedroom. “And this is my room!” She proclaimed.
So that was that. The grandchildren had arrived for another weekend and taken over our place once again. This becomes their place when they spend weekends and overnights with Nana and Papa. If you asked them for a tour they could probably lead you around with their eyes closed.
I’m guessing they’d start with Brennan’s bedroom (my office and Melanie’s old bedroom). Then next door would be Charlotte’s bedroom (Sharon’s office and Brian’s old bedroom). Then there is the aviary (our screened-in porch overlooking the bird feeders). The play ball area (our back patio), the soccer field (our backyard), the jungle (our mulch garden with large boulders to climb over), the expressway (our cul-de-sac for racing radio-controlled race cars), the new corner café and restaurant (set up in our living room), the play area (our family room), the aquarium (our bathtub full of toy animals), the theater (our large screen TV in the basement but with only limited viewing allowed – as per their Mom), the main dining area (our kitchen island), their reading room (portable house up from the basement) the drag strip for RC cars (our garage and front driveway) and finally Lamie (toy lamb) in the nightstand when Charlotte takes her naps in our bed in the afternoon.
Our Colorado grandchildren are no different. When we come to town, their home becomes grandparent central. There is the fashion show runway (their living room), Study/play area (the kitchen table), Cooking class (the kitchen island), the reading room (family room), special reading chair (family room), the expressway (their cul-de-sac across the street), toy sanctuary (basement) and always major shopping experiences when we’re in town (local garage sales on Saturdays with Nana in the lead.)
Entering our Grandchildren’s world or creating one for them is no accident. It’s our deliberate focused attempt to cram in as many life experiences as we can with each visit here, in the mile high city or out west. We know from personal experience that childhood memories can’t be replicated through toys, television, video games, screen time or other distractions from the normal routine of living. Instead they are born out of real life experiences generated by a hundred thousand little interactions and every day events. We want to build a treasure chest of memories for those grandkids of ours.
Unfortunately grandparents don’t get to decide what goes into each of their little memory banks. So all you can do is throw as many life experiences at them and see what sticks. Often times you’ll be quite surprised what they remember and cherish after a certain trip or visit.
Was it rafting and boating this summer along with playing on the Lily pad at Lake Okoboji? Or our backyard which provided the perfect spot to catch a chipmunk that was promptly named ‘Peanut.’ (Peanut was serenaded to by Maya and the Twins until its release the next day.)
Was it catching fish up north at Aunt Marla’s place on Lake Vermillion…or when the Colorado kids go to Florida where they love playing in the ocean and creating sand castles on the beach?
We know that Palm Springs provides the perfect setting for long days in Nana’s pool and snipe-hunting on the golf course at night with Uncle B. But what will they remember of those experiences? That’s really anyone’s guess. We’ll probably have to wait ten or twenty years to find out.
So I guess in the end Brennan’s room and the aviary and that fashion runway are really all iconic symbols for what we are trying to do for the little ones.
I think it was Samantha who said it best. After a long day of garage sales, she clutched some innocuous something or another and announced in her sweetest cherub voice: “Oh, Nana, this is the best treasure ever!”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.