Posted in grandparenting, Life

Reading (yawn) with my granddaughter

This week we watched two of our granddaughters while number three was being born. The couple of hours after morning preschool is designated quiet time at their house. The two-year old sleeps pretty well. The four-year old defines “quiet” differently than I do.

Yesterday’s primary quiet time activity was baking cookies. They were pre-made, pre-formed, pre-cut refrigerator cookies each featuring a unicorn. It only took her a few minutes to place each one on a parchment paper covered sheet pan. My wife popped them in the oven, leaving one hour and fifteen minutes of quiet time to go.

“Hey, grandpa, can you read me this story?” A book of five-minute Disney princess stories lay open on the coffee table.


I love to read, and I love to read to children. I was as fascinated by the stories as she was. Each was tale of something that happened after the classic princess movie. Cinderella was competing in a horse show. Belle and a new friend were working on inventions. Ariel was planning her wedding to Prince Eric.

At the end of each one, she pointed to the next and said, “Now read this one.” My eyes get very heavy in the early afternoon, especially if I sit and read. Ordinarily I’d take a quick nap or do something active. Today I soldiered on. Three stories in, I had to pause, stand up, change position, and rub my eyes to continue reading about Mulan and Sleeping Beauty. The struggle to stay awake was real.

Finally the cookies were cool enough to eat. I welcomed the sugar rush. Then mom and dad walked in the door with the new baby.

She was fast asleep. I like your style, little one.

Posted in grandparenting, memories, youth

Joys and memories: watching my grandson play baseball

I went to watch my seven-year-old grandson’s baseball game last night. After two seasons of T-ball, he had advanced to a machine-pitch league. His team lost this game, but the coach awarded him the game ball for his efforts!

Watching this game made me think about my own youth baseball experience. I never played in an organized league while growing up. But on my block alone, I had enough friends my age to field two teams to play either on the street or the “ball field.”

The street game required little equipment. We played with a pink rubber ball and a bat. Bases were manhole covers, car bumpers, and sewer drains. We hit single-bounce pitches. The game’s added challenges included traffic, homes on each side of the street, and the unforgiving asphalt surface. When we could only round up eight or nine kids, this was the game we played.

When we had fifteen or more, we played at the ball field, a quick bike ride to a huge vacant lot behind the development where my family moved when I was eight years old. For this game we had gloves, baseballs, and wooden bats. Bases were flat rocks or pieces of wood we found lying around. We used pitchers, but no one threw very hard, so there were hardly any strikeouts. We played a lot of games, especially throughout the summer.

The challenges of this game included a pretty rough field surface. You had to have very quick reactions when ball bounced off holes and rocks in the dirt and grass that wasn’t cut very often. A foul ball into the woods might mean the end of the game if we couldn’t find it. Every once in a while, someone would tag one and it would reach one of the bordering homes. I don’t think we ever caught a window, but we bounced a few off the roof. A few of my friends were pretty good. Only one of them played Little League, beyond the means of most of our families.

It was a good place to hone some skills. Enough that I could later play some college intramural and later, church league softball. I also remember the names of most of the kids and adults I played with. Baseball was really good for developing friendships. Plus, once you’ve played, baseball is much more entertaining to watch, from the major leagues to a local machine-pitch rec league.

Posted in grandparenting, Life

Toddlers, tortellini, and toys

The other night, I go to hang out with all three of my grandkids for a few hours. Their parents headed out to see the lights in St. Augustine, my wife had a meeting, and they wondered, “Can you watch them for a few hours?” Without a moment’s hesitation, I replied, “Yes!” I don’t get that kind of opportunity very often.

At ages one, two, and three, they really don’t play together. For the first half-an-hour or so, each wanted to play with what another had, but eventually they settled down with their own. After a bit, time for some music. I got out my guitar to sing songs, but no one really wanted to sing with me. Instead, they wanted to run laps around the living room, chasing or running from me as I played. Then it’s time for food.

IMG_8147Tortellini (with “dip”), strawberries and green beans were a hit, everyone wanting seconds. Once supper is over, a few episodes of Paw Patrol kept them quiet for a moment as I cleaned up supper.

My wife was the first adult human to return home, amused and perhaps a bit dismayed at the number of toys strewn around the house. Cars, pretend food, zoo animals, farm animals, action figures, balls, flashlights, a doll house, trains, pretend ice cream cones, kid-friendly power tools, books, lab coats and medical equipment, dinosaurs and a pretend Keurig are all needed to keep everyone busy for a while. Yep, we used them all! (Side note: it doesn’t take three to get and leave out all the toys. One can do the job just as well!)

As a grandparent, I relish these moments not only because they are fun and fill me with joy, but because I know they are rare. As a parent, you feel like you’ve got a lot of time to spend with your kids as eighteen-plus years stretches out in front of you. But as a grandparent, you know those years will fly, so you savor those moments when you have them.