It Takes a Village

Leslie and I moved to Tacoma when I retired to be near our kids and grandkids. We’ve had grandchildren stay overnight many times so parents could have a night out and so we could enjoy their company and spoil them a little. We even kept Gavin and Lael for two weeks while their parents went to Spain with high school students. I insist on keeping Saturdays free so I can see grandkids’ soccer games, occasional basketball games or musical programs. “Having fun with the kids and grandkids” is definitely the best part of living in Tacoma.

Recently, however, I’ve been involved in the more nitty-gritty aspect of their life. For the last month I’ve been cooking Lael’s breakfast and shuttling her back and forth to school because her grandmother, my first wife, broke one leg and sprained another and is unable to do these things right now. Tuesday was particularly hectic because it was a half day and Gavin had a orthodontist appointment right after I ran Lael to school. I’d promised to take Lael out for an early birthday lunch because it was about the only day she had free before her birthday. As a result, I had about 40 minutes between dropping Gavin back at school and picking Lael up again, just long enough to take a shower after my 6:30 workout.

Thankfully, I enjoy seeing Lael twice a day; she’s young enough to be cheerful and optimistic every day. But driving a kid back and forth to school seems more like work than “fun.” And I like taking kids to doctor and dentist appointments only slightly more than going there myself.

For the first time in his life Gavin is having some problems with a class, Algebra, and I suggested that perhaps I could help out some since his parents are so tied up with work. I took a look at the Algebra book today and realized that this isn’t the same Algebra I had in the 9th grade. I’m going to have to go back to the beginning of the book to get to the point where I can offer any help. That might be a good thing because I discovered recently that it was nearly impossible to understand environmental studies without a better understanding of math than I now have. I don’t remember very much about the math courses I took a long time ago in high school, even though I was in honors math all four years.

I have also discovered some positive side effects to having to operate on a schedule. I’ve been more conscientious about working out at the gym every day since it’s only a hop, skip and a jump from Lael’s school. I go to the gym right after dropping her off and work out for an hour and a half. As a result I’ve managed to drop to 180 pounds since I started taking her to school, something I haven’t been able to do for many years.

I also read a little of Thomas Merton’s The Seven Storey Mountain every day while I wait for Lael to get out of school. I might have read more if I had longer periods of unoccupied time, but I’ve discovered that regular physical exercise and regular meditation have become more important to me than reading books.

Luckily, the weather has cooperated by being it’s usual rainy winter and early spring, not rubbing in the fact that it’s nearly impossible to drive very far and still get back in time to pick up Lael at 3:30. I did get out to Belfair on Monday, but birding is still been slow.

Still, I’m reminded why I have books I bought while in college that I still haven’t read. If I were still teaching there is no way I would have time to blog; I seldom had time to even exercise regularly. Reading has always been a guilty pleasure in my life and I’m sure it will continue to be, but at the moment it has taken a back seat to raising grandkids and that’s probably not a bad thing.

10 thoughts on “It Takes a Village

  1. I have experienced the same thing, although for a time all of my grands lived too far away for me to have daily experience with their lives. They are closer now, but still too far to help often. I think you are doing the right thing, even though it isn’t always fun to do (for you.) I know they will be grateful to you for the time you gave them.

  2. Loren, it’s wonderful what you’re doing; you are a good man. There are different things we do at different times of our life. And if reading or other things sometimes take a back seat: so what? Your life sounds rich and fruitful.

    • Don’t know about the “good man” stuff except in the sense that most of us want to be good men and help out our relatives and friends. I can’t imagine doing anything else but helping out when I’m needed.

      I think one of the greatest virtues of reading is that it helps us to empathize with others, to see the world through another person’s eyes. If that doesn’t help us to think more about those around us, the books have failed one of their main functions.

  3. Sounds like a healthy lifestyle. Re-learning the algebra keeps your mind active, working out keeps your body active.

    Me? I research. I write. I go to bed. Get up next day, do over again.

    Hmmm. Not as healthy a lifestyle.

  4. Sounds very similar to my life, minus the grand children, plus elderly mom and cousins, and 16 year old daughter. I somewhat jokingly say “My life is full, but not fulfilling”.

    • I think most of our life it’s tough to find enough time to sit down and read for pleasure. Early retirement gave me that luxury and once I got accustomed to it, it’s hard to return to a more “normal” life.

  5. More than anything else, this entry was my way of explaining why blogging has been less regular than usual and why it will probably continue that way for a while longer.

    I really don’t see the situation as “good” or “bad” because it’s all those things. I’m happy doing it because it needs to be done, and I’m happy helping those I love. I’m grateful that I’m in a position to be able to help and still have some time to do the things I love to do.

    Lael is glad that I still have time to exercise regularly or we wouldn’t be stopping for treats quite as often after school..

What do you think?