Almost 10 years ago already. That went fast. Our fourth grandchild was born. Graham Lucas, a beautiful little towhead, swept into our lives and stole our hearts. It had been 5-1/2 years since Peyton was born so a new baby in the family was welcomed and loved.
When G was a few months old, Sarah went back to work while waiting to get into RN nurse’s training. Adam was head chef and worked every weekend as did Sarah. So Sarah’s mom watched Graham 2 Saturday nights a month and Hubs and I gladly took the other 2. The problem with this was our location. Karen lived a few minutes from the kids, we were 175 miles away. But we were thrilled to see all of them (especially Graham) often so he wouldn’t forget who we were. As if. The kid was amazing.
When Graham was about 18-20 months old and talking very well for his age, we encountered a small problem. When it was our turn to stay with G, I brought him a treat. It wasn’t a big deal except Sarah was rather adamant that Graham not eat very much junk food. He loved fresh veggies, pasta, salmon and was a great eater.
I’ve been hooked on Brach’s brand candy since I was a kid. Malted milk balls, chocolate stars, chocolate covered peanuts plus all the non chocolates they offered. Chicks and Rabbits for Easter and my favorite, Circus Peanuts. Kinda orange/peachy/yellow colored marshmallowy candy about as big as my pinky. Sickeningly sweet. Yum. I started bringing 2 Circus Peanuts in a snack bag every time we watched Graham, but kinda without Sarah’s knowledge or permission. We’d give them to Graham long before supper or shortly after. That little stinker soon realized every time we walked in the door, there was a candy treat that would be his shortly. One Saturday he’s sitting in his high chair eating thin strips of yellow pepper when we walked in. Sarah’s running around, putting on makeup when Graham pipes up, “cirt-kus p-nups. Cirt-kus p-nups!” Sarah walks through the dining area, shoving stuff around in her purse, looking for her keys, frowns and says, “what’s he saying? I can’t understand him.” “Umm, I don’t know,” I said feebly, crossing every body part she couldn’t see.
Graham’s a remarkable little kid. By the time he was 2, his vocabulary was bigger than mine. He was obsessed (in a healthy way) with all things dinosaur. He had a book containing pertinent factoids/pictures/pronunciations on every dinosaur known to man (kid) kind. He knew his stuff. You could open that 100 page book anywhere and he’d rattle off the correct name, pronounce it right, the dinosaur’s size, what they consumed, (this was no Little Golden book) where the beast lived, slept, swam, how they communicated and what size poop one could expect to see after a meal.
One weekend Hubs looked over to what was holding G’s attention for so long. He had built a fenced in enclosure on the floor, filled with tiny, plastic dinosaurs milling around in small groups, palm trees and a lone male figurine smack dab in the middle of the whole works. Grandpa said, “oh that poor guy, he’s in trouble Graham. He’s going to get hurt or stomped on by one of those carnivorous dinosaurs, probably the T-Rex.” Immediately G turns to grandpa for a teaching moment, “no grandpa, he’s not going to get hurt. He’s a paleontologist.” (I kid you not). What a character. He was 2.
Graham and I looked forward to our Saturday nights together. We started doing the corniest projects, which was highly unusual, unbelievable even, because I’ve not one crafty bone in my body. I couldn’t think of something clever to make with a 3 to 7 year old kid if I was offered a substantial cash bonus! I am taking credit for a couple things we made together, but even those projects are dicey because I made the originals when I was in grade school. Guess I’m really taking credit for something my talented teachers thought up 60 years ago.
Even though Graham was a little young, he had the patience of Job and our Saturday night craft projects held his interest until he was around 7. By then he was playing outside with neighbor kids and my goofy crafts lost their appeal. (I’m about to start the same ritual with my great-granddaughter Jovi. Should be fun and I’m looking forward to learning lots from her). Of course, many of our craft projects revolved around snacky food ingredients like Twinkies, cupcakes, bananas, Rice Krispy treats shaped into snakes, cupcakes into an enormous centipede, dirt cake that turned my cake pan into a spooky cemetery. But a couple of them, one with clothespins glued on a tin can which made a neat pencil jar I hope mom and dad save for him. My favorite was something we made for Adam for Father’s Day. I took G to one of his and daddy’s favorite spots. A neat park/pond/playground near their home. We brought a bucket along and collected lots of small stones. At home we made a big batch of salt dough, (a favorite staple for craft projects) shaped it into an oval, poked holes on the top so we could hang it and stuck the pebbles in before we baked it. DAD ROCKS. Always have special meaning for both of them since they spent a lot of time at Mill Pond Park where we collected the rocks.
This was around the time we decided to move closer to the kids. If we weren’t driving across the state for one of 12 year old Landon’s travel basketball tourney’s, it was a Peyton school party, grandparents day, a dance recital or simply to visit. Josh and Erica lived in Detroit, Adam and Sarah in Ann Arbor, Shannon and Tracey in Jackson. All within an hour of each other-except us. We were 150-180 miles from all of them. It was crazy. We were retired, living in a house too big, too expensive and too far away. An easy decision to make. We’d move somewhere at least 150 miles east. We wanted to see everyone more often but without the 3 hour drive.
Selling the house took a lot longer than we thought so we continued our weekly treks to enjoy various events. We finally moved 4 years ago. What a wonderful difference. Should Sarah get called in for an extra shift, we’re available and a half hour away. If Peyton gets sick at school while Tracey’s stuck in Ann Arbor and Shannon’s testifying in court, we’re just a few minutes from picking her up, bringing her home or to our house. It’s rare we miss anything that’s going on where family is concerned.
Graham’s gonna be 10 in a couple weeks, hard to believe. Now he’s playing flag football, little league baseball and zipping through 5th grade when I think he should be a toddler. Still a wonderful, thoughtful boy who’s a joy to be around. Hope he never changes…