Grandparenting is not what I'd imagined it would be. When I say my experience with my nine grandkids has been a real education, I mean it in every sense of the word. Over the years, in-depth conversations by the dozen have revealed startling information on an amazing number of subjects.
Take foreign languages, for instance. When Terri, our first grandchild, was barely school age and staying with me for the day, she expressed her antipathy for the lunch I had fixed by slamming down her fork and exclaiming, "yuck!"
"What did you say?" I asked, sternly. She met my gaze with wide eyes and after a long pause, and in a very soft voice, replied, "I said, 'yum.' Yuck means yum in Spanish."
I gained a nodding acquaintance with another world through Ryann, our second granddaughter. While imaginary playmates are not unusual for only children, Ryann had met up with an entire family. They followed her everywhere and hung around for such a long time that I got a little worried. I finally asked her if she still had dealings with them.
"Once in a while," she whispered.
"How often is that; and why are you whispering?"
"Shh!" she cautioned. "They'll hear you, and they think they're real."
It's been a few years since she said that, but I still haven't captured the full essence of her remark. In the meantime, my schooling has continued, and I've gleaned a great many bits and pieces from our little crew.
I HAVE learned, for example, that when praying one might give thanks for not having been made a slug. And when asking for blessings, might remember not only the entire population of the world, but the whole university, as well.
Something else I've learned from the experts is that mothers never sleep. It's so obvious, I should be ashamed of having thought otherwise. After all, they're awake when you nod off at night, and still awake in the morning when you get up. Where did I ever get the idea that they slept the way other people do?
I also discovered that I had the wrong slant on what a historical novel is. If I want to write a really old-fashioned story, I should set it clear back in 1980.
After all that practice with my grandkids, I started branching out. I found myself siphoning new information from total- stranger kids. That's what happened last summer at Old Faithful in Yellowstone Park. I'd watched the geyser erupt on many occasions, it seems, without having understood its actual origin. But this time, the boy who sat near me figured it out.
When the eruption had fully subsided and people were beginning to leave, he announced, in a voice filled with awe, "Gosh! I wonder where they built that. It must have been in Disney World."
And that guy on the trail must be Ranger Rick, and that deer in the distance, Bambi. You just never know.