While I feel very strongly about this subject, I know that times have changed. When my kids were growing up, at least until the youngest was in high school, I was a stay-at-home Mom. That didn’t exactly mean I didn’t work mind you, but beyond my housewifely duties, I didn’t have to be gone long from home or I could take the girls with me. From time to time I painted houses inside and out, worked part time at a food-testing lab and sometimes did office work for my sister-in-law. There were also all the non-paying jobs which were paid for in love, hugs, good will, and brownie points like taking turns cleaning my grandmother-in-law’s house every other week with my sis-in-law or helping my folks take care of theirs. All of it took time which is what most working parents don’t have.
The advice still stands, within the realm of your possibilities, I would advise all parents, young or old, to never clean house, mow the yard, or start a garage project, if it is a perfect time for a back yard campfire with the kids, a walk on the beach, hiking, canoeing, swimming, a weekend of tent camping or some other activity you would all enjoy. Choose doing things together as a family.
Somehow, in the fullness of time, the house and garage, as clean and orderly as are possible, don’t measure up to the memories of that funny time when one of you stepped in a mud hole up to the kneecaps on a canoe trip or when you went canoeing on a flooded spring river and wound up going over, under, around and through the branches of trees and whatever else had fallen in the storm, sharing your canoe with spiders (That bothered me more than anyone else!).
It isn’t that you don’t have to do these things eventually, but if you are lucky, there may be a local bulldozer for rent once a month and you can take the topsoil off or use a Shop Vac, nail your furniture down, and just let it take everything that’s loose.
That advice in a different way applies to grandparents, too. It might be a little crowded in an RV, but watching grandchildren see the depths of the Grand Canyon or the heights of Glacier National Park’s mountains for the first time is absolutely priceless. Although I did take Rebecca to see the Grand Canyon for the first time after she was out of college, because of the distances between our families, most of my experiences with the grandchildren were few.
I was only able to take my grandson, Will, on a camping trip the year I made a 12,000 mile tent/car trip in 2009 and not too far from Mom and Dad, but he was a delight. He was perfectly happy when we arrived for our first night camping in their tent trailer. It was such fun sitting in that campground rainstorm eating crackers and jam. It was damp, muggy, and for some reason I don’t remember, we didn’t have much light. He declared the meal “awesome.” We spent the next day exploring, me with my camera, and Will inspecting millipedes, tracking deer, and making dams in a gurgling rain-fed stream. With his destroying any Blue Ridge enemies with his stalking and limb-gun shooting, I was sure it was a safe place to be.
Not only can you enjoy their company, but you can learn a lot if you just listen. I used to take my granddaughter camping for several days at a time when she was little. She really seemed to enjoy our fireside discussions and having my full attention until she discovered a world beyond Grandma. As we dabbled our feet in the bay water near Anacortes, WA, Becca asked me, “When is a seagull not a seagull?” (It helps if you are smarter than a 7-year old because I didn’t know.) “Grandma! When he’s flying in a bay area, he’s a bay gull (bagel).”
Well, you catch my drift. They grow up faster than a speeding bullet, then they graduate college and go off to places like Peru or get to be seniors in high school and have girlfriends. Where does the time go? God Bless until next week.
Winter in the Wilderness, the first e-book novel published by Minshall, is offered at most Internet book sites. A print edition may be obtained from Amazon, or you can order an autographed copy from the author at Box 1040, Congress, AZ for $7.95 plus $3.50 for postage and handling.
The fourth edition of RVing Alaska and Canada is available through Amazon.com.