The Epistle of Q — Chapter Eighty-Nine (Part c)

What happens to us when Grandkids grow up?

It’s fun being a grandpa although for most of my life I never much thought about it. We have fine grandkids – four guys and a young lady. They range in age from almost sixteen to twenty-three. Each is unique, even though two are twins. One is already working on an apprenticeship, another is well into a university program. The others are juniors in high school.

Now, perhaps to you there is nothing unusual about all this. You may already have great grandchildren or maybe you prefer to have pets – in either case (or anywhere in between) my thoughts may seem not that exceptional, so you can skip to the next chapter.

But what is amazing to me is the dawning realization that grandkids grow up. When they are very young they are often very cute or at least very funny. They see the world in very non-filtered ways. They tend to be relatively “straight arrow” in their approaches to daily challenges. As well, their world is immediate, but very large – in fact, it is huge.

I was reminded of this the other day when visiting our American grandkids, they had decided we should once again visit the Renaissance Fair, a rather unique entertainment site on the outskirts of the Greater Phoenix Area (GPA). In many ways it resembles a state fair – but one set five or six hundred years ago, even before the actual Renaissance. We went four years ago and had a fun time with the guys. This time it also was a good time but for much different reasons. The “jousts” were just as good (in fact, one of the grandkids was photographed with the very same knight as he was back then). The actual site is actually bigger. There are more shops and possibly even an extra entertainment stage or two. But there wasn’t as much to keep the guys rivetted to the fair itself. Oh there were lots of pretty young women – many decked out in the fashions of yore, although often in the greens of St. Patrick’s Day – and they were noticed this time. And some of the neat events like the Dungeon and Maze were still there – although these didn’t seem as difficult nor as intriguing as the young men remembered them. Even the “turkey legs” (enormous drumsticks) seemed somewhat smaller, though perhaps just as tasty. And, the line-ups were longer, or at least took more time. Even so, the cold water was as refreshing.

I need to inform you that the grandsons are very polite young men – they have been well brought up. As a result they kept trying to find interesting things for their grandpa to enjoy. And there was at least one stage that was replete with extremely entertaining jugglers and another that had one act that boasted super agile gymnastic performers. But after not quite four hours, it was agreed that it was time to go home. It wasn’t the same fair – the boys are now young men and while the site was actually larger in area, the venue had shrunk in perspective. And in their concern to give Grandpa a great entertainment moment, they had actually bored themselves.

They were apologetic but they need not have been for I found it all a fascinating experience. For one, I became tired of walking, perhaps because I’d foolishly worn sandals instead of the more appropriate running shoes, but more likely because I’m realizing I’m a little older now!! But more educational was the awareness that they aren’t little kids any more. They are still a great deal of fun to be around; we can still do many enjoyable things together. But like so many things in life, relationships change.

The highlights of this trip turned out to include:
1. Joining one grandson on his orientation tour of the Cronkite School of Broadcasting at Arizona State University.
2. Individual dinners with each Grandson where we were able to talk about his dreams for further education – both in terms of type of schooling and location of the preferred place of learning.
3. The complete family hour in an “Escape Room” where once again we collaboratively solved the puzzle with just about four minutes left.
4. Taking Grandpa to their fitness centre a couple of times for an hour’s workout.
All of these events focussed more on using brains (or at least smarts) and not just play. They also showed the growth towards being peers in many ways. Sure, we still went to watch them play a couple hockey games and we did go to a couple of fast food outlets. But that is still part of their evolution – the games are played at a higher skill level now and the fast food places are a little healthier.

One thing though continues to reinforce that they are of my lineage – almost everyday we had ice cream!! And each day I became more aware of the joy in continuing to grow older — the grandkids are doing the same and the perspectives through which we interpret the world grow and change and educate. Again I’m lucky — in part because they still like ice cream!!