Kids and Toys
The Not-So-Empty Nest
In the years since each of the Smith daughters left home for the "husbands of their dreams" I've been busy off and on. Work hasn't gone away (neither has the desire to work less) and the house hasn't been empty for long stretches. While Mrs. Smith and I were hiking Yosemite and nearly going snow-blind in Sequoia, one of the Smith daughters was watching over the Smith "mansion" and pet. Not quite the total disconnect I had been dreading.
We still collect here to watch Nascar races, and the phones are still ringing regularly. A portion of the clan met at the Safari Park (formerly the Wild Animal Park) in San Diego to share cheetahs and ice cream; and we still send care packages home with the struggling young families. I get to see my Chevy Colorado now and then when the youngest "Face Times" from her knew home in Indianapolis. I hope she keeps up with the oil changes. That truck was a camper's dream, and I miss it. I have to confess though, it's nice to be putting just a gulp of gas from time to time in the little car Mrs. Smith and I share now. Family is still family; memories are still relived; and life is going on.
In fact, a structured grandchild-sitting routine has begun which may help grandpa get back into hiking condition. The grandchildren are the gifts of Smith Daughter #1 in return for the many years of... "determined parenting" we've given her. My four year-old grandson keeps me moving. He's either dragging me out the door or pulling me down to the playroom floor. One of the abandoned bedrooms has become a play/music/sleep-over room for him and his younger sister... and, of course, grandma and grandpa.
The grandson who when born wasn't much bigger than my hand, is now my playmate. We eat together, watch television (I like Little Einsteins just as much as the next guy), take in the occasional ball game, and last night we found something in the closet that may become a regular occurance when he's visiting-- slot cars. I have some repairs to make to the old track, and maybe a new car or two from e-bay, but the parts of the old set that worked last night were fun for both of us.
I'm learning how to play again. My teacher is a veteran at the age of four. He has no patience, but he is persistent. He can voice the same want or command many times without tiring. He recognizes and responds to a surprising amount of loving and/or lame sarcasm; which makes me pause and think of just how much of those wonderful elixers his mother and aunts were actually exposed to as they grew up.
I used to fly kites in a huge green field probably long-ago cemented over in Brea, California when I was a kid. My stepfather showed me how to send paper messages up the kite string, and I became an expert at creating the best kite tail. Those skills are gone. I built my last kite 25 years ago at a cub scout gathering with my youngest brother-in-law. Sure, I flew kites and played games with my daughters; but the technical building and creating of instruments of fun and play for girls was, for the most part, left up to Mrs. Smith. And she excels at it. Now it's my turn again.
So, now I need to lend what little I know and remember to playtime. If I wasn't working with an expert I might be worried about this. I'm confident, though.