Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Getting to watch them grow up

When my kids were young, my wife and I were focused on the every day chores required when you are a parent. Items such as feeding, clothing, schooling and health were where our attention was on a day to day basis. Then, all of a sudden they were grown and with families of their own.

But now, as grandparents, the mundane chores and concerns are the province of (at the moment) our son and daughter-in-law, and my wife and I can concentrate completely on actually watching the grandtwins grow up.

This revelation came upon me last night as I was looking at some pictures of a trip to the playground we recently took. Though it is still winter, we have started to have some warmer weather and on this spring like day we took the boys to the playground.

My wife and I hadn't been with the twins at the playground since before the winter. At that time we put them on the (baby) swings and placed them on top of the small slide and stood there while they slid down ... very slowly. They had just turned 2 years old and were able to do a little climbing on some very low to the ground areas but not much else. Of course we all had a good time while we were there.

This time, things were different, of course. It is now the end of winter, and at this age children surprise you every day with new things. The twins are no different and through the winter they continued to grow up. As grandparents who are not with them every day and involved in the basics of child rearing (any more), each time we saw them we were able to see more signs of them maturing. Speech went from words, to phrases to full sentences showing lots of imagination and original thought. Number skills, letter skills and shape skills are giving way to the three "R"s - Reading, wRiting & 'Rithmetic. It's fun to watch their love of learning new things - regardless of how  basic or complex the subject might be.

Here at the playground, we really realized just how much they have grown up over the winter. All the big kids - you know, the 3 and up crowd - were climbing a chain ladder to get to the top of the big slide, so naturally the twins had to do it as well. This time, they were able to climb the ladder (on their own mind you) with one of us standing behind and spotting them ... for our own peace of mind as it turned out as no intervention was necessary at any time during the day. Reaching the top they placed themselves on the slide and down they came - with no help from the adults. And when one of the "big kids" brushed by one of the little guys and displaced him slightly, he immediately told the older child, "Don't push me, I'll do it by myself!" No intimidation here.

Although they are twins (fraternal as opposed to identical), their personalities couldn't be more different. While one is very social, one is a bit more shy. However, he became interested in what a group of older girls were doing, and climbed up to watch them. When one of the girls noticed him, she introduced herself and asked him his name. He responded and introduced himself as well, rather than keeping silent or walking away as he might have done. Again, as grandparents we can take the time to see and enjoy watching them grow up and mature.

Two year olds are innately curious, and the twins are no exception. One of the guys spotted an insect and was fascinated. When the insect managed to get away, he went looking for it, and asked his dad to help him find it. Failing in that, dad (ever the science teacher that he is) turned over a rock to discover dozens of bugs for the boys. And what 2 1/2 year old boy isn't transfixed by a colony of bugs? If there were bugs under one rock, shouldn't there be bugs under more rocks? Naturally, they had to find out, and rocks were turned over and bugs were found.

Finally, after a long afternoon at the playground it was time to head home. After about 2 hours of play, you would have thought they would be ready to get back in their wagon and ride home, but they decided that not only would they walk the 6 blocks, but pull the wagon as well. To be honest, one of the twins didn't make it all the way home, and retired to his seat in the wagon ... only to have his brother continue to pull the wagon, now with his twin as a passenger. They arrived home in this manner.

My wife and I raised our 2 children to adulthood, and as most parents, we were often so focused on the act of raising them that we weren't aware of how they were growing up day by day. As grandparents we now have this luxury ... and are enjoying it to the fullest.