By Camille Curro Baier
I slept on the floor last night, breaking a promise made to myself 30 years ago that I'd never do that again.
Why? Because my 4-year-old granddaughter wanted a movie sleepover with Gramma & Grandpap. Faced with big, begging, blue eyes excited at the prospect of hanging with The Grands, could I say NO?
Yes I can hear you all going "Awwwww." I know, because that's what I did.
I did try to negotiate permission to lounge at the foot of my bed while her more limber granddad graced the blanketed floor she'd carefully prepared nearby, but she graciously declined. Ok not so graciously, but very insistently. Like the splendid regal that she is, she ruled me down. I caved.
And I have to admit it was memorable...if not appreciated by these 76-year-old bones. Getting down was a challenge. Getting up harder still. But cuddling with our visiting cutie definitely made up the difference.
We watched "Shrek" the adult-like cartoon about a good hearted ogre who finds love. His fast talking donkey sidekick brought repeated guffaws of laughter from our little houseguest and there's nothing more delightful than a kid's belly laugh at a movie.
Living in the hinterlands of Virginia with her brother and two sisters, our grandkid times are limited, and precious. This year we housed each of the three eldest separately, greatly enjoying the individual personalities of each. They got special attention, while we grands could full out spoil them. Everyone won.
Yes, there's a deep, sad lull when they go home, but this is balanced by the fun of our time together. We show them the sights. We do lunch, and playgrounds, see kid museums and, if lucky, we find a kid movie complete with popcorn. We feed them mostly what they want mostly when they want it, let them stay up a bit late, eat ice cream once or twice, play games, color, read books, take walks, and steal hugs whenever possible.
"Run, run, hug, hug" the game I invented 40 years ago when her dad was young, gets lots of action. The child runs to my open arms, and on arrival, we both get hugs. Who can lose?
This little one also helped do her laundry, played hide-and-seek no less than 14 times, and got permission to ring our very loud doorbell daily, but only once each time – Grandpap's rule.
We recorded it all for posterity. Gathering pictures of our excursions into a little album, we captioned the events, writing our own little book. Together. She read it in the car as we drove her back to her family.
It was 30 years ago that I made the promise to never again sleep aground and that too was because of her dad. Stiffed by a friend who backed out of his back-yard camp-out, Mom, Dad, and Sister stepped in fill the breach, because parents bleed when their kids are hurt.
That night, too, was memorable. Cold. Hard. Painful. Slightly cozy. Edifying: I learned not to love the great outdoors. But at least my son had his tent campout. The things we do for kids. And now, grandkids. Anything worthwhile to win a smile or quench a tear.
Come July, this group will board an airplane and head east, moving overseas for several years. The parents are excited, planning adventures and experiences to expand the world for their children. They originally met sky-diving, later explored Alaska in a motor home. He studied in England during college, she in Australia. He had a white mouse called Princess Leia as a teen, she had a gecko. She does 50-mile triathlons; he hunts, scubas, and drives a motorcycle. Adventure is engrained in their vocabulary. Normal, not so much.
We will surely miss them. But grand/parenthood also means expecting them to run their own lives. So you enjoy the times you do have together.
Which is why I'm glad I slept on the floor last night. The old bones will just have to deal with it.
Camille Curro Baier makes the most of her grandchildren.