They packed up the van and loaded my three Grands in the back. Six hours later, Uber son, wife and Grands arrived at the family manse for a weekend visit. Within minutes of their arrival, Paterfamilias and I began an immersion into their lives--in the ins and outs of who likes what for a snack and how things are going at school and what's happening with the indoor soccer team. It's exhilarating. Not just in a deja vu kind of way but in a real fascination with how the grown child's career is expanding and how the Grands are growing up--what their concerns are, what their many strengths and occasional weaknesses are. One by one, they plop themselves down at the piano and play. We can hear a growing sense of rhythm and musicianship by the two who are taking piano lessons. They take the Razor scooter parked in our carport out for a spin and we watch how adventurous they are--or are not--in scooting down our steep driveway and along our dead-end street. Soccer balls are kicked around. Basketballs heaved at a rickety hoop at the end of the street. The van disgorges a tricycle for the not-quite-four year old and we get to marvel at her new accomplishment.
All this is a long way of saying that when our grown children arrive at our house with our Grands and they stay for a few days, we are suddenly and deeply absorbed by and into their world. We sop up all the small talk about what they're learning in science class and how the math is going; the challenges of a co-ed versus all-girls soccer team; how limits are set for screen time and games on the iPad. By Sunday, we're rolling along with the plans for upcoming birthdays and summer vacation in Vermont.
And then the van is repacked, kids and tricycle loaded. Their world backs down the driveway and trundles down the road. When grown children and their families live far away, there's a yo-yo like relationship with their lives. So much intimacy. And then none.