Saturday, April 20, 2013
My six grandchildren, ages two to eight, visit from time to time though not all at once except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and the Fourth of July picnic. My husband has become the good grandfather and devotes himself to their entertainment all the time they are here. I am less gracious -- as the kids say now, "I need my space" although I am good for reading stories, jigsaw puzzles and the occasional game of Old Maid or Crazy Eights.
My husband, realizing he was only human, recently purchased Nintendo with many mind-numbing games and now we often get only a hurried "hello" as children disappear up the stairs to the arms of the Mario Brothers or Ninja Turtles.
Other families with older grandchildren tell of soccer practice, swimming, baseball and other sports for children all the way down to five-year-olds who have T-Ball. It seems these things continue year round and parents or grandparents seem to be constantly running a taxi service from one activity to another. There seems to be no time for just play.
My activities were different and seem to have relied more on imagination. As an only child, I had to invent things to do. At four or five years old, I had an imaginary friend named Rachel who roller skated with me. I had my own little radio with late afternoon programs like Little Orphan Annie, Don Winslow and the Navy, Jack Armstrong, the All-American boy and, on Sunday, The Shadow which scared me to death. While I listened, I drew pictures or doodled.
My mother sometimes indulged me in the evening with games of Russian Bank, Double Solitaire and Parcheesi. I even learned Cribbage and Backgammon as I grew older.
Outside, there was a neighborhood with children of all ages and there were good weather games at all times -- ball or Mumblety Peg, Run Sheep Run, Kick the Can for the boys and for the girls jump rope, hopscotch, statues, Hide and Seek and "sitting down" games like Lemonade in the Shade and Dummy school.
We wandered into the woods in the summer chewing birch bark, eating tea berries or huckleberries. We caught fireflies in the summer evenings and on summer afternoons bees in jars.
When all the activities ran out or when the weather was bad or when my mother put her foot down on people playing yet again in our attic, I had books to read and magazines like Child Life and Playmate. I could curl up in the living room or on my aunt's big front porch in upstate Pennsylvania or in my bunk at summer camp or in the children's section of the library and be in the Limberlost or with Nancy Drew. There is something in books that TV can never match and I had it.
We had an onion snow this morning. Big wet flakes fell quietly among the raindrops. They disappeared on the wet grass. Otherwise in the afternoon, it was just a wet April day. The tiny dots of green appearing on the trees combined to make it a George Seurat landscape.
It has been an odd late winter and early spring. The Bradford pears have not bloomed as they should. Instead of rows of trees in radiant white standing like debutantes before the grand march, they have half-heartedly budded and then produced their leaves hurriedly. The forsythia however has been bravely yellow and daffodils and tulips kept colorful appointments in the garden.........