More Than Passing Time

  • So we are open to ideas on how to entertain, educate and occupy the hours of a week with an almost-eight-year-old boy—-our grandson, Oliver. (Please don’t call him Ollie. He is grown up now, you know.)
  • We are situated, thankfully, in what is a great spot for outdoorsy stuff, though mid-March is not the perfect time for building a dam in the creek; constructing a twig fort; or turning rocks and logs for insects and salamanders and the like. But I imagine we’ll do some or all of that anyway.
  • So here’s the list so far:
    1. Make a garden-duff infusion with some barley tossed in. Let it sit in stacking dish of rainwater for a couple of days. Examine under the microscope. Look at moss samples for water bears.
      1. Related: give him his own magnifying glass
    2. find the perfect hiking stick and cut it to the size he will be in two years
      1. wood-burn his initials on it with a magnifying glass (wear sunglasses)
      2. drill a hole near the top and make a boot-lace lanyard
      3. take it to him when he lives in Knoxville
    3. Watch a friend make a wooden bowl (for Oliver)
    4. Watch a friend make a whistle from a piece of rhododendron for Oliver to take home.
    5. Gather pine cones and twigs for the wood stove
      1. watch the pine cones explode into flame in the wood stove. Let him add them one at a time to the front of the fire wearing thick leather stove gloves.
    6. Go visit the neighbors who have two of every farm animal known to man, AND the Great Wall of Goose Creek
    7. Go for a walk at The Other Place so he’ll know something his folks don’t about where we’ll be this time next year.
    8. Connect with a friend who has a five year old son who is not shy
    9. Get him some creek boots
    10. See if great-grandma will tell stories of when she was a little girl (yeah right–see if we can stop her!)
    11. Let him use my camera to take pictures, then write out or record the story that the picture tells
    12. Read to him at bedtime from the books we read to his dad as a boy, and send the book home with him
    13. Hopefully the cat will warm up and be playful. He is around dogs at home but could learn a thing or two about how a cat is not a dog.
    14. Let him use the walkie talkie on the New Road
    15. Give him a journal (pocket notebook) and help him record the things we do, ideas he has, stuff he wants to be sure and tell mom and dad
    16. Find out what his favorite things are and help him dig wider and deeper
    17. Play music on the guitar, accordion, keyboard. Instill interest in music.
    18. Screen Time: Watch selected videos (like the one included in the first comment below) on the iPad or iMac. Use the iPad and iPencil for drawing, tracing, coloring a picture he chooses and send it to M&D
  • So that’s about we got at this point. I’m thinking we’ll probably run through 90% of this the first two days. Yikes! Gargle. Rinse. Repeat. So we are open to ideas from the Peanut Gallery.
  • Oliver has not been away from home before. He knows us only from our occasional and brief visits when they lived in Missouri. This will be a challenge for his adaptability, and ours, even as the house is under welcomed threat of being visited by potential buyers (who will have to overlook the Family Circus.) This too shall pass.
  • We are glad to be here yet. Oliver’s week with us could become an indelible memory; or it may, in twenty years, be one of those vague almost-memories that you “recall” only because you’ve been reminded of them over the intervening years. Those stories of others become what counts for your memories of forts and water bears, boots and long walks, and strangers that tried to make you comfortable in a strange land.
  • Except: you have that stick; those small boots; and a scrawled and worn little notebook and a picture you traced of a cat; and a bowl; and a whistle, and… Yeah, maybe there are true memories, like insects in amber, embedded in the mementos that tie the 2040 Oliver to a span of time and a place where his grandparents lived a little longer, in the spring of 2020.

8 Replies to “More Than Passing Time”

  1. Great list! I’m saving it for when my now 7 month old and in utero grandson’s get a little older. Things I’d add: 1) get him up for one of those amazing Appalachian sunrises, 2) lie on your backs on a clear night and gaze up at the stars, 3) hot chocolate, 4) smores (items 3 and 4 can be integrated into activities 1) and 2).

  2. I love the effort you have gone to to think of all these things to do! Personally I think that list will keep you going for an entire week easily. What a lucky little boy to have you as his grandpa. Now we just have to hope for good weather.

  3. Sounds like a great week. Don’t forget about favorite foods from Grandma’s house.

  4. Dad (and Mom)! THIS LIST is half the reason we were so eager to move Down Closer. And you hadn’t even written it yet! Permathanks.
    I’d add that your “rinse, repeat” on day two isn’t a flaw but a feature. Baking in some daily ritual will only deepen things and make O feel more at home, sear those things in a little deeper. He won’t bore that easily of repeat offenses — not when they involve sticks and creeks and duck impressions.

    One other heads up: Ollie’s native response (ask him what he’d prefer you call him, btw — he might give you an exception like he has for his cousins and old friends)… Oliver/Ollie’s native response is usually this: Resist, Resist, Love, Resist Leaving. Expect that, especially as he gets comfortable saying no. But there’s always love in the middle.

    With respect, Your grandson’s daddy

  5. Enjoyed reading your post. I thought the headwaters of the Roanoke river are found in Montgomery County.

  6. Fred, there’s no way you won’t have a wonderful time. Lucky boy, to have such a good grandad. Stay tuned in to what he especially likes, and expand on it.

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