Saturday, September 16, 2006

Living as a family of five again...

Three of our grandsons are living with us for the weekend - and then we will live with them for 2.5 days so that they can attend school. It's the first time we've done an extended, hands-on, prepare meals, provide-structure-and-a-little discipline, make sure everyone is fruitfully occupied kind of childcare since we had 3 kids of our own. We've done a lot of helping-out-when a-new-baby-arrives, living in and running errands, etc.; we've kept anywhere from 1 to 6 kids for an evening or an afternoon, but this is a first and it is an adventure! These particular 3 are the children of our eldest child, daughter Lisa, and her husband, Mark. They're currently in NYC, visiting Eric, Rachel and Grace for a few days before Lisa begins a heavy-going, deep- immersion masters' program at CalStateLA in special education. The kids themselves are:

Ben (aged 15, photo on the right) avid - and excellent! - photographer, biker, obsessive project maker - especially when cameras are involved, charming, kind and a bit flaky from time to time (per the cell phone in his pocket when he jumped into our pool this afternoon :>) This picture is nearly two years old - taken at Disneyland for Joel's 6th birthday;

Luke (aged 12, dreamer, scholar, reader, pianist per excellence, humorist, thoughtful writer, hard-to-budge when preoccupied, gifted with the ability to see the absurdities of life) Again, the photo (to the left) is old.

and Joel (soon to be 8, good-spirited, funny, helpful, a bit of a roughneck - wouldn't you be if you were the youngest of 3 boys?, curious, good learner, very loving and affectionate). This picture taken last month at Sea World when the whole clan gathered for a week of Monopoly, tourist travels and just generally catching up.

It's an interesting thing to be responsible for others whom we love, to temporarily step back into the parenting mode from the much more indulgent grandparent one, to remember to think about what they need, as well as what they want. For example, we figured a dinner out at Ruby's with huge burgers would be perfect ... except that the older two had major adjustments on their orthodontia this week, and are finding chewing and opening their mouths very wide somewhat difficult and painful to do. So, I'm on the lookout for soft foods to eat - hence tonight, we feasted on a variety of ripe melons and a home-grown, macaroni-and-cheese based casserole a-la what I used to make for my own kids many years ago, followed by fresh berries and ice cream. It's likely Sunday dinner will be a breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage and hash browns - with fruit, of course - unless mouths are healed and appetites are more normal.

These boys are full of energy, really do love one another, are anxious to please us and are great fun to be around. They are messy and careless by nature, but can easily be reminded to pick up clothes, close doors and clear the table. In fact, they are delightful and dear, a gift to us. I highly recommend grandparenthood - you get the best part of child-rearing without the incessant fatigue and responsibility. Our house is in upheaval due to a pending remodel, so there's no real table available. Nevertheless, it's fun to be five for dinner again.