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.