The plan was to have each of our grandchildren stay for a few days at our house during their summer vacation.
When you have four grandchildren that are involved in baseball and other activities, that is no small feat of organizational effort.
Their final day of school was late in May, it is almost the end of June, and the last of the g-kids has only now left for his home.
Becky and I were pleased that, like the other three, he agreed that it was fun spending time at Camp Grandma and Grandpa.
At 10 years, he is the oldest of the four. The first one to reach double-digits. He came with a mental list of things he wanted to do while he was at our house in the country.
He also brought a photocopy of Page 1 from the book “The Dangerous Book for Boys.” It was a list of “Essential Gear” and included a Swiss Army Knife (check); a compass (check); a small flashlight (check); and a box of matches (“Can’t get them”) he noted on the margin.)
He spent most of his time outdoors doing things boys that age are wont to do. He got muddy in the creek and tried to catch frogs. He found a geode and wanted to crack it open to see the crystals inside. So we did.
We watched carefully as he took a hatchet to a dead tree. He was great friends with our dog Sydney and wadded into the pond because Syd had decided to lay down in the water. He stayed up late to watch the full moon rise, making use of his essential flashlight to negotiate the darkness. As an added bonus, he saw the mysterious planet Mars looming high in the sky.
He used the cordless screwdriver/drill to help when Grandma proceeded to put together a shelf which had been delivered. While the three of us were working in the garden, he found a stack of old boards. Since he was already almost an expert with the drill, it was a no-brainer that he would construct a fence for his hideout in the ravine. He added spikes to help repel any and all invaders, and as a finishing touch used spray paint to camouflage his mighty fortress wall.
But he spent time indoors, too. He is an avid reader, and you can bet that Grandma and I never stopped suggesting books we really liked and thought he might, as well. He read some of them. One of the items on his to-do list was “Learn to Play Poker.” So we did. We used pennies and a sheet showing what poker hand beats what. He won some and lost some. That’s life.
Eventually it was time to go back home to his mom and dad and siblings. Time to get back to his neighborhood and his friends. Time to enjoy the rest of his summer of being 10.
His latest visit brought back memories of when I was 10. The poet Billy Collins has a wonderful and poignant poem, “On Turning Ten,” that I sometimes think about when I interact with this grandson.
In the poem the speaker has just turned 10 and is becoming aware of growing older as he watches the late afternoon light falling solemnly against the side of his treehouse. I sometimes see that dawning self-awareness and hear those puzzled questions about life coming from him.
But mostly I see a boy who is full of the joy and imagination of a blessedly care-free youth. I see a boy who is 10.