I’m home from a week in Maine visiting my son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter Gracie, age 5. It’s been a whole year since I last saw her in person. We Skype regulary, and we keep an art journal that we mail back and forth to each other, but nothing can take the place of being together in person. I have worried at times that she might grow up without really knowing me. I want her to know me. I’m quite different from her other grandmother, who lives a few hours away, and sees her much more often than I do. Children can never have too much love, and all her grandparents love her dearly. I just hope that she will love some of the things that I love — nature, art, the realm of the spirit.
I shouldn’t have worried. She was so excited about my visit, her preschool teacher said, that she spent the whole day before my arrival talking about it. Then, the next day, we were on our own, when Mommy and Daddy went off to work. I was pretty exhausted after 11 hours with her, but oh so happy. We had so much fun!
Maine was having a heat wave while I was there, with temps in the 80s and up to 94F one day. We went swimming in local lakes, and I taught her how to slap her mermaid tail on the water, which she thought was great fun.
We went for nature walks and gathered leaves, sticks, seedpods, and stones. I showed her how to identify oak leaves and maple leaves, and how to twirl “helicopter” maple seedpods.
We read books, watched a couple of videos, and played games on the iPad. We made mudpies (aka “environmental art”), and she made up a song about how much she loves summer.
We made a lot of art while I was there, especially in “Grandma & Gracie’s Art Journal,” which is a sketchbook that we mail back and forth to each other. It’s a lot of fun to draw together. She wanted to draw the seasons, one per page. She drew some things and I drew others. She colored in some of the things I drew. I taught her how to layer colors to make new colors. She loved discovering all the different colors she could make by layering crayon colors on top of each other.
I taught her how to cloudgaze, and how to rub the leaves on herbs to release the scent.
We went on a photowalk, and I let her use my iPhone to take her own photos. She has a good eye! She especially liked taking pictures of trucks.
On Sunday, Gracie dressed up in a sparkly gold lion costume, and we all went to see her perform in her dance recital. (Picture 20 five-year-olds dancing to “I just can’t wait to be King!” from The Lion King. So cute.)
She taught me about staying in the moment, and how to fully inhabit and love your body.
On my last day there, I took Steve and Gracie out to lunch (her mom was at work). We played silly mimicking games while waiting for our food. When we were paying our check, the waitress came over and handed us a note that some folks in a nearby booth had asked her to deliver before they left. It read: “It makes my heart happy to see such an amazing gram! We miss my mom everyday. Thank you for the smile. 🙂 Blessings to you all.” I didn’t think I was doing anything so terribly unusual, but it was sure nice of them to write that note.
Grace and I really strengthened our relationship this visit, and that’s what I wanted. A 5-year-old is already her own person, with opinions and solid likes and dislikes. On the last morning I was there, she said “I’m not ready for you to leave, Grandma!” Nothing could have warmed my heart more than hearing that.
An autumn visit can’t come soon enough for me.
(Some of the photos in this post were taken by Gracie.)