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Life Must Go On at Home

Updated on January 15, 2016

We Have Each Other

Alex, Rachel, and Hannah wear funny glasses and line up for snacks
Alex, Rachel, and Hannah wear funny glasses and line up for snacks

They Have Each Other's Back

While it is fact that soldiers fight for each other. So do the children. My four grandchildren living for now in Fort Bliss, Texas, cover each other. I find their protective, defensive behavior to be extraordinary. I am told that among military families protective behavior is not so extraordinary. Children know what is permanent.

It may be Robert who takes the yellow dump truck which results in a small tantrum by Alex. It is also Robert who will be in the same room and the same house every day. Robert may, on occasion, be annoying, but Robert is permanent.

Mom and dad are also permanent, but not every day. Mom is deployed in Afghanistan. Dad was deployed in Serbia. The favorite school teacher moved away on Thursday. The friends next door moved away last month. The children across the street moved in on Wednesday.

Who is always there? Hannah, age seven, Rachel, age five, Alex age five, and Robert, age three, are always there, every day through thick and thin and through laughter and tears, through deployment and family camping in the mountains.

Working Well Together

We have cake
We have cake

At the Mall

What would possess grandma and one dedicated day-care provider to take four children to the mall? A momentary lapse of sanity and a need to go someplace and do something, motivates us to find the shoes and brush the hair. We will have lunch in the food court and then play in the well equipped play area.

When we arrive roughly twenty children are climbing on the sturdy logs and hard plastic green trees and the three-foot high fort. Adults sit scattered about the edges. We find a bench close to the action and release our young into the wild.

Immediately they gather forces and began to play tag. Since in my opinion Rachel is a bit aggressive in her play, I have her come and sit quietly by me for three minutes. She only cries for one minute, then sits and watches.

Time is up. Rachel may return to the fray. In seconds she returns with a dejected expression on her pretty face.

"What is the problem?" I ask.

"The kids won't let me play."

I examine the situation and discover a group of children of about eight to ten years old chasing each other and yelling, "You're it."

Hannah and Alex are climbing through the hollow log, and Robert is hovering close bye.

"Play with Hannah and Alex," I suggest."

Rachel shakes her head.

I look up to see Robert, all three years of him, standing with hands on hips, looking up at the fort and addressing a large portion of tag players.

"Guys," he says in his authoritative voice, "let my sister play. Right now!"

I hold my breath. Rachel does not wait for an invite. She joins the group with her characteristic one thousand percent enthusiasm. Robert returns to hover nearby, watching.

I already feel some sympathy for the far distant first boyfriend.

Dad is the Man

Dad and Alex relax after the game
Dad and Alex relax after the game

At the Ball Game

It is fun for me to watch my grandchildren do anything from ballet recital to basketball. Tonight is Hannah's game, and we are all going.

I know what to expect from previous games. The players are seven and eight years old and both boys and girls on each team. They play a well structured game with only all rules regarding traveling are ignored.

Hannah starts on the bench. As she says, "The bench is comfortable."

However, her turn comes. She is tall and hovers near the basket and waits for the ball to land in her hands. I love every second. It is all about the team. On this particular game, the scoreboard has Hannah's team down by fourteen.

Alex is sitting beside me. He clarifies that the big score is not Hannah's team. He watches one more failed attempt to score and turns completely around. He is now facing the wall with his feet and legs backwards through the bleachers.

"I can't stand to watch," he says, nearly crying.

I say, "They may come back."

As indeed they do because the opposition does not play their best players together for the remainder of the game. The point is to have fun, learn skills, and, most important, to learn team.

Bit by bit, inch by inch, Alex begins to face forward. He watches with interest as the gap closes. Hannah's team is down by six when the game ends.

"That was fun," I say.

"No, it wasn't," Alex says. "Hannah's team lost."

"So what?" I say. They are only seven and eight years old.

Choke. Gasp. Scrunchy face. Did I not understand? His sister, Hannah, her team lost.

Rachel says, "We still get snacks."

We look for Robert. He is across the hall talking to the opposing coach. I will never know what he said. I imagine something similar to, "Let my sister play!"

Dad fetches Robert. We walk to the van.

Alex asks his sister, "Hannah why did your team loose?"

Hannah, who is eating her healthy nut bar from her snack bag, says, "They made more baskets."

Alex eventually moves on. He believes Hannah to be the best player.

I like to talk about the game, any game. I like to rehash the plays and the missed opportunities and the fun moments. I say to Hannah, "You looked more comfortable in the second half."

Hannah says, "I was most comfortable on the bench. We might win next time."

Children's Organized Athletic

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A New Day, A New Game

Rachel can't play because her arm is broken and in a cast. If she could play she would be on the same team as her twin, Alex. Rachel is an athlete. She is a free spirit. She is not a good audience.

We all go to watch Alex play a basketball game with the opponents being another team of five and six year old players, both boys and girls. For this age group, the score is not kept, but the children are expected to play a structured, disciplined game. I am astounded by how well these children play the game. (I swear I saw the next Carmelo Anthony. He played for the opposition so I couldn't tell Alex.)

We find a spot from which we can see the action. I look down to see that Rachel is wearing a silver boot on her right foot and a black dress shoe on her left. She doesn't have time to worry about such trivial concerns.

We prepare to watch. Alex stands on the floor waiting for the starting horn. Rachel jumps from one bleacher to the next, rattling drinks and shaking spectators.

I say, "Rachel, sit still. Alex is playing."

Two minutes later. "Rachel, sit down, I want to watch Alex."

Again, "Rachel, I won't bring you with me if you can't sit down."

Hannah, who has been watching the game in earnest, says, "Grandma, I won't bring you with me if you yell at Rachel."

"I wasn't yelling," I say, hurt. Rachel sits down by Hannah.

I am a temporary resident in her home, Rachel is permanent.

In the meantime, Alex plays well. Dad, who kept score on his hand, announces that Alex's team scored twelve points. Alex had three rebounds and two assist and two points, but who is counting.

Alex says, "I wish Rachel could play.

"So do I."

"I can play when mom gets home," Rachel says.

The Military Life


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