This time of year, everything is so exciting for the little ones in our lives…and even for the not so little ones. The littlest ones especially find the lights, gifts, candy, and the excitement of it all to be almost more than they can believe. Their eyes light up as brightly as the Christmas tree, and keeping their little hands away from the tree and gifts can prove to be really difficult. On Thursday nights, I spend the evening with my mom, Collene Spencer and my sister, Cheryl Masterson. With school activities and Christmas shopping to do, my niece Jenny Spethman often drops her daughter, Aleesia off at my mom’s so she can spend a little time with her grandma and great grandma. That means I get to see quite a bit of her too, and she is so much fun to be around at this age. She is such a goofy little girl anyway, and I don’t know if it’s the candy or the season, but she becomes even more goofy.
I have had a chance to hear Aleesia say a lot of things, and believe me they are all just as cute as they can be. She always calls the movie Despicable Me, Spicable Me and the Minis. She calls my mom, her great grandma, GeeGee. She loves to say Paaaaleese with her grandma. These are common mispronunciations among little kids to be sure, but such fun to hear the kids say. And as we all know, kids grow up so fast that before you know it they can say all their words without mispronunciation, and those cute little sayings days are gone.
This last week, while my niece, Jenny was shopping, Aleesia and her brother Zack were at Mom’s house and we were watching kid movies. It’s funny how easily you can get used to those kid shows, when there is a little one around trying to say all the words they aren’t sure how to pronounce. That night though, Aleesia was having a lot of trouble concentrating on the movie. She kept touching the tree and pointing to the tree. Then she got up on the couch and looked out the window and saw the lights on the other houses and said, “Moo Lights!!” I laughed in spite of myself. I knew that she was trying to say “more lights”, but in my head I pictured cow-shaped lights. It was such a funny thought, that I could not keep a straight face.
Of course, what would Christmas be without candy. Christmas especially seems to be filled with baking of cakes, pies, cookies, and candy. By the time the holiday is over, the kids have had so much candy that is takes a couple of weeks to bring them back to earth. My sister, Cheryl had a really difficult time limiting the amount of candy Aleesia had. Aleesia kept coming back for more, saying, “Chocoleet!” She placed a strong emphasis on the “leet” part, and her high little voice just made it sound so cute. Of course, it was chocolate, but any candy would have been just fine.
I know that these days are very short, at least for Aleesia mispronouncing word, so I am very thankful that I have had the opportunity to be around to hear her funny little sayings. They will most likely be said only this year, and then next year, she will either not mispronounce words, or the mispronunciations will be entirely different words. Either way, I think I will always smile when I look at Christmas lights, because the thought of cow-shaped lights called Moo Lights will always be in my memory files.
As my grandchildren get closer to graduation from high school, I am beginning to realize just how much I am going to miss all their activities. As little ones, there were the school plays, awards ceremonies, and track day, and they might also play basketball or soccer. Then in summer they might play baseball or some other sport. By the time they were in middle school, the plays were gone, but there was still the occasional concert, basketball, track, and summer baseball. I began to realize that we were at the end of that era after Josh graduated to middle school. Things were very different now. By this time, all three of the other grandchildren had decided that they didn’t want to be in sports in school anymore, although, Chris and Caalab like to play softball on their team from work in the summer, and that is fun to watch too. Still, mostly they were busy with their jobs, studies, and plans for their futures.
I realize that if I want to see much of the school activities anymore, I will need to attend as many of Josh’s track meets as I can. I always liked to go to them, but this years has been more difficult. There were more of them that were during the day and during the work week. Nevertheless, I have been able to make a couple of them. I think it is sad that the closer I get to having no more of these activities, the fewer I am able to get to. I know that I will miss these when they are over.
Today was one of the times I was able to get to Josh’s meet. I really love to watch Josh run. He does best at the long races, and I think that those kids who do the 800 meter and 1600 meter races are to be commended. I like the 400 meter too with Josh. He just seems to be able to bring it on as the race progresses. That is so not like his grandmother. Running is not my thing. I can walk for two hours or more, but running…less that 5 minutes. Josh is my hero in the running arena. This year has been a bit of a transition for Josh, and that has been a little hard. Before, he raced against his own age group, but in high school they all race together. Some of those seniors are quite a bit stronger than Josh. Nevertheless, Josh stood his ground against kids who are bigger, older, and stronger than he is. I know that as he grows, he will be the one who is bigger, older, and stronger, and then he will be in charge. I can’t wait for that day, but in the meantime, I enjoy watching the journey he is on.
In the early years of being a grandpa, my father-in-law had just girls…three in a row to be exact. That didn’t bother him one bit. They were grandpa’s girls, and he thought that was just fine. He loves kids, and as I have seen in letters he wrote to my mother-in-law, before their marriage, he had a special place in his heart for those little girls. His future sister-in-law, Margee had been just a little over 5 months old, when he and my mother-in-law were married, and he thought Margee was just the sweetest thing. His thoughts on baby girls didn’t change much over the years.
The girls felt the same way about their grandpa as he felt about them. They just thought he was the greatest thing going too. He loved to get down on the floor and play with them, and even if they were having one of their drama filled moments, he just didn’t seem to mind…he just redirected the play, so the drama would end, and the fun would begin. It was always fun to watch him with the girls, because he just loved being a grandpa, and it showed. In fact, he had always loved kids, so maybe that’s where Bob got his way with the little ones…softies, both of them.
I sometimes wondered where my father-in-law got his patience with the girls when they were fighting or crying…usually in the form of screaming, both. He didn’t lose his patience, like I felt like doing, but rather just separated the two fighters, and hugged them when they had their little boo boos. The screaming and crying practically drove me up a wall. If they were in that kind of a mood, I was very happy to let them go visit their grandparents, so grandpa could settle them down some.
As the years went by, my father-in-law would get one more granddaughter, and three grandsons. While he was wonderful with all of them, and it was obvious that he was simply partial to babies and kids in general, I will always remember those early years fondly. Thoughts of him happily surrounded by his girls playing and laughing put a smile on my face. The girls were so blessed to have him for their grandpa, and I hope they know that. Not every child gets to live near their grandparents, and the fact that they did is very special. While my father-in-law is gone now, I’ll always see him surrounded by his loving family, and I’ll always hold a special memory in my memory files for him and Grandpa’s Girls.
Through the ages, kids have thought that the work done by their parents is fun. They do their very best to mimic everything their parents do. The funny thing is that often, the things they see as being vitally important, are the mundane tasks that we do because we must, but try to get done with as quickly as possible, because they are so boring. I’ve never been able to figure out why those tasks catch the eye of our little ones, or why they place more importance on those tasks than some of the really important things we do every day. I suppose it is just the difference between the thoughts of a child and the thoughts of an adult.
All in all, it’s not a bad thing that kids like to mimic their parents, because before long, they can do the real chores that they were pretending to do before…if they still want to by then. Of course, that is when your real work starts, because when you tell your child to do their chores, most kids take on a look of being instantly half sick. Their shoulders drop, along with their smile. They look like they have run a marathon, and here you are making them slave around the house, when you know that the only marathon they have been running is a marathon session on the play station. Funny, how that can suddenly be exhausting when you ask them to stop and do those chores.
Then, in your mind, you see that little kid, begging you to let them help, and if you were ever going to get anything done, you knew you were going to have to buy them a pint-sized version of whatever cleaning tool you were using. If you were ever going to get your work done, you were going to have to find a way for them to help you without actually using the tools you need, because you really don’t want to discourage them. The days that kids want to help are few and far between, after all, and before you know it, watching your kids doing the chores with a smile, are over.