Summer Bedlam

Every year, for one week, Rick and I are blessed to have two of our five grandchildren stay with us and attend Vacation Bible Study.  This year, we borrowed another grandchild to stay as well.  We would have borrowed two, but the other was already scheduled to go to Mt. Gilead (camp) for the week.  So we only had her for the first day and the last night and day. 

The children are now at the age when they entertain themselves.  Our task is to make sure “entertainment” doesn’t include dangerous feats of adventure.  We’ve been regaled with stories from our grown children of what they did when we weren’t watching closely, and it has given us cold chills – much to their delight.  I strive for “controlled chaos”.   

Vacation Bible School took up the morning.  Afternoons were the challenge.  My plan:  take the grandchildren where Granny wants to go.

The first day, I bought deli sandwiches, fruit and water for a picnic.  As soon as the children finished their morning camp, we (including my daughter, Shannon) headed for Bodega Bay and Doran Beach.  I figured a couple of hours of running around, digging, wading and making sand castles, and then we’d head for Pinnacle Gulch and a hike down to some tide pools.  I’d never been there before and wanted to go.  However, a kindly ranger warned us of a half-mile, steep downhill trek through heavy brush and a tide coming in that would cover the pools long before we made it.  Drat!  Tide pools are now on next year’s list of things to do, and it’ll be Shell Beach and not the Gulch that could swallow up children (and an old lady).

Second afternoon, we had hamburgers and Butterfinger milk shakes and headed for the carnivorous plant nursery.  Third afternoon, we dined at IHOP and swam at Finley Park Aquatic Center.  Thursday was the afternoon BBQ in Ives Park.  Friday afternoon we headed for Spring Lake and netted minnows.  The children swam in the “lagoon” along with a visiting flock of Canadian geese.  The water was so dirty, we couldn’t see the bottom where crawdads dwell.  From car to hot showers and lots of shampoo!

Whenever we were at home, the boys headed out to the big flower box I’d “seeded” with “gems”.  They dug for hours and found purple, red, yellow and green jewels to put in their treasure boxes.  Girls like dress up, Barbies, puzzles, art projects, cooking. 

Evenings went fast.  Hands washed, prayers said, dinners of Caspar hot dogs, pulled BBQ chicken, BBQ hamburgers, orange chicken and rice were consumed and followed by fruit deserts.  After dinner and showers, we popped corn, popped diet/caffeine free sodas and settled down to a movie.  We watched two versions of “Journey to the Center of the Earth” because that’s the book I read to them before lights out at 9.

Sunday, we all went to church.  The boys came home with “Papa” so the younger one could finish packing for his week at Mt. Gilead.  I took the girls to Hallberg’s Butterfly Garden where we strolled along the winding path and spotted dozens of caterpillars, but only a few butterflies. 

Now that the grandchildren have all gone home, the house seems so depressing.  No shrieking laughter, squabbling, endless questions, jokes or dress-up shows.  Sarge, our German Shepherd, keeps looking for them (as though they’re playing hide-and-seek again).  There’s evidence children spent time here:  mounds in the big flower box “mine”, a bucket of shredded leaves and a few flowers soaking into “perfume”, a plastic terrarium that held (a now liberated) pill bug, a tumble of NASA space suits turned inside out in the play room.  A pile of movies to be returned or put back into our collection.

I miss the little munchkins. 

And I’m already making plans for next year.  Shell Beach (tide pools), Armstrong Woods (maybe take some “life savers” and play Star Wars), Spring Lake (they’ll be old enough for the paddle boats)…