It is always quick, busy, exciting, full of surprises and never ordinary – the week that the grandkids come to visit without their parents.
We started the tradition several years ago when our granddaughter was old enough to come and stay. She was six and ready to make the five-hour drive from her home to ours. Her brother was too young so she got to solo the first year. She was packed and ready to go shortly after we arrived. Never did she mention being homesick or ask to call home. We were amazed at her resolve and determination to visit on her own.
Two of our grandchildren live in the same town as we do so they join in the festivities as the week unfolds. We have learned over the years what works and what doesn’t. There are regular stops that cannot be left out – one is going to the drive-in movies and sitting in the back of the pickup truck.
They all spend the nights here at the house and we end up with musical beds as each one has strong ideas about where they want to sleep. Usually a little negotiation will resolve most issues after a great deal of give and take that would put NATO and other such organizations to shame. Want an international crisis solved? Send in the grandchildren and grandparents and it was be taken care of pronto!
For the last couple of years, the youngest grandchild has joined the others for the annual camp. The only male in the bunch, he has learned to stake his claim and survive the melodrama of three young females such as braiding hair, clothes malfunctions, lost items and a whole lot more. His main concern is what we have to eat and when he can eat it.
Visits to local parks, museums, zoos, Washington, D.C., battlefields and other local points of interest are regular stops on the tour. This year, putt putt was added. I am not sure why but it seemed to be the most popular new activity.
Slurpees from the 7-11 were also an addition to the week’s schedule as a stop each evening or afternoon was filled with discussions of which flavor was absolutely the best. Our grandson could not help himself exclaim as his first taste of the cold delicacy filled his mouth, “I don’t like Slurpees; I love them.”
Every day is filled with constant activity and no slacking is allowed. Keeping up with whatever is on the schedule is a given. Walks around the school campus across the street from our house are required, and stops at special trees are a must – the weeping willow, the table or flat tree, etc.
Some years we have gone to North Carolina as well as gather in Virginia. That adds another dimension and a whole new world of activities. A trampoline full of jumping possibilities was a real mind-blower last year.
None of this would be possible without the parents helping out whenever they can. Sometimes they transport and other times they help with the activities, but basically it is the two of us and the four of them.
We always ask what was the favorite part of the week and the answers vary each year. The oldest grandchild is hitting teenage years so she was did not take part in all activities as usual due to obligations. She did volunteer to accompany me on the train, when her younger sister had a conflict. We brought the younger two back to the area so they could have their first, lengthy train ride experience. I have to say the café car was the biggest hit, but the train ride ranked in the top of the list.
The hard part of the week is when it comes to an end and we meet their parents halfway. The house is never the same as calm and order take over where organized chaos and unbridled frenzy were the norm.
As we discussed the week’s adventures on the return trip, we all agreed it was a big success – no throwing up, no bed wetting and no one had a case of the runs. Yeah!
We will continue to do this as long as they still want to come. Hopefully for as long as we can keep up with them. I mentioned that we might be selling the house to downsize and one of them exclaimed, “You can’t sell this house!” So I guess we will stay put for a bit longer.