A good Girl Scout or former camp counselor probably would have laid out a schedule, maybe even in writing, with proven estimates of time required for each activity, interspersed with breaks for healthy, pre-approved snacks. Instead, it was just Me, alone for the afternoon with Brother and Small Sister and mortified to feel like such a rank amateur. Clearly, if you believe the Gospel According to Facebook (and who doesn’t?), other grandparents use these cherished times as effortless opportunities to bond kindred souls across the generations.
Right. We now return to our regularly scheduled program, and that activity list that unfolded in a more spontaneous fashion:
- Create tent between two chairs using old sheet. Show children how to hide in it without tripping over entrance flap and upending structure onto curious dog, hovering optimistically within the danger zone. Snap photo and text to absent parents to attest all is under control and old-fashioned fun abounds.
- Move on to Creativity Time with crayons and Dinosaur Jumbo Coloring Book. Hang finished masterpieces on fridge. Remove half-bitten fuchsia crayon from mouth of Small Sister, gingerly and cleverly without getting bitten.
- Shift ho for the Great Outdoors, remembering tricycle handily acquired at garage sale for $9. Console jealous, wailing Small Sister, too short to pedal, while Brother rockets away, out of reach. Caving in when consolation fails, try letting her stand on trike’s back rail, clutching Brother’s shoulders. Naturally, she lets go on the first forward lurch. Leap forward barely fast enough to catch her in backwards flop, inches before small head would have collided with sidewalk pavement.
- Check watch. Battery might be dead, as it indicates only 45 minutes have elapsed.
- Drop to the ground exhausted, swamped by feelings of certain inadequacy. Whatever, I sigh, this lawn is huge and secluded from traffic. What if they just run wild for a bit; do I have to stage-direct every minute? Who am I kidding; could I, even if I tried?
Freed from suggestions, direction, or clutching, anxious hands, Brother takes off running in wide circles around me and Sister, who for once seems to realize that giving chase would be futile. He runs along with a rich, shouted monologue that may relate to medieval sword-fighting, or space travel, or possibly both. I can’t catch all the narrative. Why isn’t he tired yet? But pretty soon, I’m rooting him on, wishing I could be along for the ride.
Run, Brother. Run like the Superheroes who are never far from your imagination. Run from the nap you don’t want to take. Run for the questions that pour out, too fast to be answered in grown–up tempo, and for the ones that don’t really want answers, anyway. Run to amaze your sister, as mesmerized and adoring as any loyal sports fan.
Run, Brother, run.