By Bruce Stambaugh
“Who knew it would be so much fun?” That was an email reply to me from a grandparent friend. Indeed, who knew?
Though we have always lived many miles apart, we have tried to be involved with our three grandchildren as much as time and distance allowed. First it was Texas, and now Virginia.
Our daughter, whose husband works for a university in Virginia’s lovely Shenandoah Valley, asked if we would care for her trio of children while they spent the school’s spring break in Florida. We didn’t hesitate. We rearranged our schedules and headed 350 miles southeast.
Like her mother, our daughter is extremely organized. She had the week’s agenda outlined day by day. Of course, life has a way of upsetting the best of plans.
The upheaval began not long after our daughter and her husband headed south. During the night Davis, the six year old, got sick. Monday it was his big brother’s turn. At first we thought Evan just missed his parents. When the school called to say Evan was ill, we realized he wasn’t just being overly sensitive. The next night little sister, Maren, woke up sick, too.
With the weather cooler than norm for The Valley, we kept the woodstove stoked overnight. Once, though, the smoke detector suddenly screamed. The woodstove apparently was a little too stoked, its temperature needle reaching the danger zone.
Halfway through our weeklong mission a major winter storm stirred. Harrisonburg became the bull’s eye on the official snow accumulation chart. A total of 15 inches of heavy, wet snow piled up, cancelling school for two days, with a delay the third. Retrofitted garbage trucks morphed into snowplows to help clear the roads.
Fortunately, the sicknesses lessened as the snow depth increased. Sledding and snowman building became the focus of activity. Neighbors loaned slippery sleds that zoomed the bundled up kids down the steep hill behind their father’s office building. They were fearless in their swooshing, especially the youngest.
During down times between sledding excursions Maren kept us busy with her favorite activity, playing a memory card game. No matter how many pairs of cards we laid out, she skunked us all. To watch her consistently recall where the matching cards were, and hear her glee at winning was worth the licking Nana and I took.
We also made good use of the snowy elements. Nana whipped up a yummy batch of snow ice cream using nothing more than vanilla, heavy cream, sugar and snow.
Maren kept us all entertained playing hide and seek her way. She would tell us where she was going to hide, and then insist we close our eyes and count to 10 before beginning the imaginative search.
Sweet Maren had to keep track of her folks, too. At least three times a day she followed the route her parents took from their home to Sarasota on a Google map I had created on my computer. After a while, I merely pointed the curser, and she recited the travel log.
The grandkids enjoyed seeing their parents a few times via Face Time using Nana’s computer on our end and a smartphone in the Sunshine state. Those opportunities seemed to allay any apprehensions the grandkids had about their extended separation from their loving parents.
For Nana and I, this was one more chance for quality time with our creative and energetic grandchildren. Who knew it would be so much fun?
© Bruce Stambaugh 2013
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