On their last visit to Nana and Poppy’s Ohio home, we had family photos taken. That was April 2017. At 5 foot 9 inches, I was taller than all three grandchildren. Not anymore.
When we returned from a recent trip to Alaska, I could no longer make that claim. Both Evan and Davis have outgrown me. Two years makes a big difference when you are growing youngsters.
In fact, Davis is challenging his older brother for tallest sibling bragging rights. At 15 and 13, they both likely have some growing yet to do.
When Nana asked Davis if he was the tallest in his middle school, he said not by a long shot. One classmate is already 6 foot 3 inches.
When I asked what sports the tall teen plays, Davis quickly replied with one defining word: “Guitar!” That’s what I get for stereotyping.
We took the sprouting trio out for our annual before-school-begins breakfast at their favorite eatery. Since it was already going on 10 a.m. by the time we arrived, the outing was more like brunch. Growing youngsters need their sleep.
The discussion around the breakfast table revealed other sorts of growth. They each shared about their recent trip to the west coast.The highlights they named surprised both Nana and me. They all liked the Chihuly Art glass garden in Seattle. Riding motorbikes and four-wheelers in Oregon was a close second, followed by watching surfers at Huntington Beach, California with cousins they got to meet for the first time.
We talked about the upcoming school year. When asked about the classes they would be taking in high school and middle school, each boy pulled out a smartphone and read off their schedules. Little sister, who isn’t so little anymore, is excited to have her best friend in her fourth-grade class.
As they chattered on and we waited on the food, I couldn’t help but reflect on their younger years in Texas, where all three were born. We enjoyed those infrequent visits, although the hot Lone Star summers often kept us inside playing with Matchbox toys and changing diapers.
Now they live in the heart of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, and so do we. They are the primary reasons we moved here from the beloved Buckeye State more than two years ago. Living five miles apart is much more convenient than five hours by airplane.
Watching the grandkids change so quickly is both gratifying and a bit scary. We relish each moment, even the predictable squabbles of youth and siblings. I’m thankful that the role of grandparent is less harried than that of the parent.
Evan, Davis, and Maren all have their various likes and dislikes, gifts and abilities. It is both a joy and a challenge to keep up with their busy, young lives.
We bundle up and watch Even pitch even if it’s 40 degrees with a stiff northwest wind. I marvel at Davis’ preference for quiet, personal time, whether on a solo bike ride or being in his room. I shake my head in disbelief at Maren’s packed after-school schedule. How she manages soccer and choir practices, and piano lessons that sometimes follow one another is a mystery to me.
The grandchildren are growing. Nana and I relish the rapid changes that seem to occur daily. We anticipate with wonder all that is yet to come, thankful we’re here to help and take it all in.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2019