When I was a child, it seemed like it took forever for a year to pass by. I would hear older people talk about how quickly time flies, but I didn’t know how they could say such a thing. Certainly they knew how long it took for Christmas morning to get here.
In my mind, anyone who looked like a grandparent or had white hair would have to admit they have been around for a long, long time. Part of their testimony would be that it took a long time to get to be so old. Those people were around for the “olden days.”
Then adulthood happens, and we end up turning the pages of our calendars just as quickly as we were told. We watch our children meet all the milestones and grow up and graduate. Then the college years. Then weddings. Then grandbabies.
When my grandchildren were ages two through six, I remember telling others that I want to bottle them up and keep them just as they are. Life is good when children are around.
Anyone who knows my brother Steven knows he is in love with babies. He has had to accept that they grow up, and he is left looking for a new baby to hold. A friend of mine recently asked if those with Down syndrome connect at an even greater level with the energy a baby has to offer. What is it about babies that comforts us so much?
We watch babies grow up and start playing with toys that help them get their work done. Construction trucks and hard hats for boys. A toy kitchen for girls.
Adults can be in awe of the things children want to know and how eager they are to be involved in what’s going on. I’ve never looked at a water tower and wondered how it works, but my grandsons have asked for an explanation.
Children are great at making suggestions about what to do next. My grandson Dean shared an idea that gained traction when he stated “Hey, Grandma, how about you be the kind of grandmother who hides candy, and I will be the kind of grandson who finds it.”
The more I thought about his words, the more I realized all of us will be remembered by the things we say and do.
The sentence will be finished by someone else. It’s just a one-liner: The kind of friend who. The kind of grandparent who. The kind of person who.
I already know I am the kind of grandmother who can get down on the floor and play board games and do puzzles and all kinds of stuff. I’ve also been told I spend a lot of time at the computer keyboard. Deano has done a wild impression of me and how fast I can type. Apparently I look up occasionally then go back to typing. Maybe he will grow up to be a cartoon artist or a future Rich Little impressionist.
I remember before my 50th birthday, I joked that I had no plans of informing my body that I was turning 50. Everyone knew the best birthday I could have was a very quiet one.
Having not told my body it was 50 years old, I was a bit on the surprised side when it told me. It happened in the middle of the afternoon when I was on the living room floor. I wanted to do a somersault, and I couldn’t do one.
There I was on the floor. Alone with no witnesses. Easy peasy. Just do a somersault. I was in disbelief when I did not quickly find myself rolling forward. A moment in time such as that makes a person go into problem-solving mode. No need for disbelief. I wondered if I should get myself on the couch and launch from there. That didn’t work either. My attempt at a somersault turned into me just sitting on the floor. I continued to think; certainly I would figure it out. Arms on the floor. Shoulders forward. But no go.
It seems so simple; even as I type this. Just do a somersault. I told my daughters about this new little problem of mine, and they told me to just do one. I told them I can’t. It’s not that easy.
I asked my young friend Stephanie, who is in her thirties, if she could still do a somersault. She told me she assumed so but hadn’t tried to do so in years.
I told her one of my regrets is not doing a somersault every day of my life. Doesn’t that make total sense? You would not lose your ability. If you can do a somersault today, then certainly you can do a somersault tomorrow. Someone should have told me this years ago.
My great-nephew, Abram, recently asked me if I knew what yesterday’s tomorrow is. It seems that riddles from a six-year-old always make us smile. And why can’t I do something today that I could do yesterday? My last somersault didn’t happen just yesterday. Today may be yesterday’s tomorrow, but today is also the future I apparently didn’t prepare my body for.
So as a public service announcement to young women everywhere: Start your morning out right with a somersault. Then you will never lose the ability.
I feel like I need a personal trainer now with the end goal being that I am a grandmother who can do a somersault. Perhaps the trainer would start with the backwards somersault. Feet on an end table then push yourself backwards. I’ve already tried it, and it ended up being more of a roll to the side; but I think if I keep working on it, it may start to look like a for-real backwards somersault.
A few weeks after I shared this advice with Stephanie, she sent a video of herself completing a somersault. I hope she always appreciates that little bit of shared wisdom.
In trying to meet my new goal of being the kind of grandmother who hides things for children to find, I brought a bag of little toys to a backyard family reunion at Steven’s house.
Not knowing how I should conduct the hunt, I asked the six and seven year old young men in my life if they could help me out. They told me it wasn’t a problem at all and took care of hiding the organic candy suckers in the yard. There were bouncy balls from the dollar store and little blow-up beach balls. The boys took care of making sure every adult and child walked away with a prize.
It’s a good thing young children can be left in charge of projects such as treasure hunts, for we adults have enough work to do.
Over the years all of us have heard “older” people talk about the quirky things they do. Things like walking into a room and wondering what you walked in there for. And looking for your glasses only to find them on top of your head. The list goes on.
Then there is the kind of treasure hunt you don’t know you are in. The kind where you find an item you forgot you had hidden in a special spot. Sometimes it ends with cash prizes.
The crazier this world gets, the easier it is for me to see where our treasures lie. A simple touch on the back somehow leaves us with a sense of comfort. Things like cuddle time with a purring kitten. Inviting the grandchildren over to spend the day. Going to lunch with friends. Sharing newspaper clippings from 1952.
Way back when I completed my last somersault, I didn’t know it was my last somersault. Life is full of so many last times we didn’t know would be the last time.
They say in heaven everything old will be made new and there is no such thing as broken. But while we are running this race on earth, perhaps we should hug a little tighter and hang on a little longer, for it might just be the last time.
Maybe there should be more baby-holding time and more tea parties in our toy kitchens. And young men who show us how to wear a construction hat and tell us where clean water comes from. Maybe there should be more back yards full of bouncy balls and hidden candy suckers.
Those cobwebs and such should quiet down, for we don’t want to find our babies have grown up while we were busy chasing dust. Today will turn into yesterday and become a day from the olden days. We have a to-do list that involves a lot of living and more giving than we could ever imagine.
Perhaps it’s during our alone time, when we pull our reading glasses from atop our head and place the Good Book on our lap when we can feel a sense of comfort that was never hidden, but truly a treasure.
When we are a child, we can help older people who want to learn once again how it is you do a somersault. We can make others laugh at our impression of those who can no longer do a somersault and are only capable of a lame roll on the floor. We can offer our hands to steady them while they are getting off the floor, and we hear them explain what “vertigo” means.
It seems that life offers all kinds of treasure hunts, and we get to decide which to continue and those we simply no longer wish to participate in.
Most important are the treasures we may not realize we‘ve already sent ahead: The love and laughter we shared with others. The cash prizes we gave to someone else. The times we bent over backwards to lend a helping hand. The wisdom we shared. The cares we kept. The scars we’ve collected, and the tears we’ve helped wipe away.
Sometimes we were alone with only One witness. Sometimes not. Easy peasy.