A Walk With My Grandson
By Jim LeBuffe
Sweetness and happiness of a kind and of a depth I had not anticipated: I’m age 67 and I don’t deserve this much joy. And, funny thing, I had never thought much about being a grandparent as I was raising my own two kids.
Grandmom Susan and I are watching grandsons six year old Liam and one year old Grant all day during the Christmas break, when daycares are closed. We drove to their house early, so my son and his wife can get to work. It is 55 degrees with the sun darting in and out, around 11:30, when Liam asks, “Pop-Pop, can we take a walk to my school? I jump at the chance. Susan will stay at the house with the napping baby.
Grandmom packs a picnic, then we start the half mile walk.
We talk. We talk about the big trees in the neighborhood. Liam looks at them closely and said they are a house for the squirrels. We notice a gleaming green Christmas ball, the size of a softball, hanging from a big tree in a front lawn. We pause and talk about how it was sparkling in the sunshine, then move on. At the end of the block we turn left then discuss a house with a big Santa on the roof who is standing next to huge cut-out letters saying “Bingle Jells”. Liam gets the joke and we both chuckle.
The walk continues; we pass through three or four more blocks of homes, then turn right as the development opens up into a big field, a playground and his school. We cut through the grass and examine two parallel, muddy tire tracks, each about fifteen feet long. “Pick-up truck got stuck”, we agree.
Liam and Pop-Pop go up the driveway of his school, past the school entrance and into the big playground with play equipment, basketball courts, soccer fields, a baseball backstop, a garden and picnic tables.
Liam is proud of and knows his school; he tells me that the cafeteria is on the other side of the big windows facing the street.
He is a good boy, running, unasked, a few times to put our garbage in a trash can about 60 feet away.
We choose a picnic table for our lunch, make a beeline for it, then open the picnic, packed in a new lunchbox.
Liam jabs his drink open with a straw, drains his drink and has an orange as I eat a banana. He is a good boy, running, unasked, a few times to put our garbage in a trash can about 60 feet away.
We look at the blue, blue sky streaked here and there with white cirrus clouds. “Look at how blue the sky is. I like the white clouds, I remark.” Liam replies, “There are a lot of grey clouds over there”. “Over there” was in front of Liam as he sat across from me at the picnic table. He was right; grey clouds were moving in.
Then Liam swings on a swing built for disabled kids, but in his innocence does not know this and enjoys laying back and relaxing while I push away.
Six or seven neighbor kids, a little older than my grandson, accompanied by a mom, are here as well playing pick-up football as the mom and a girl who looks to be about 12 are trying to get a little drone to fly. We take it all in as we swing away at least ten minutes.
Then it’s past the basketball court to see the school garden. It’s quite big and good, but Pop-Pop mainly sees just leaves and surely identifies just one group of plants, red onions, laying on the dirt under a lot of green leaves.
We head home. Liam says, just once, that he wishes we had a car, but I tell him the walk will be fun. He seems to agree and off we go. This kid is a walker!
Early on our trip back, we pass an office that says “Dentist”. I show Liam the sign and we talk about the recent extraction of two of his lower front teeth by a dentist, when he was so brave. I ask him how he got so tough and he says “From exercise”.
We take a sidewalk going back that we had ignored when we cut across the muddy grass on the first part of our walk. The sidewalk runs straight for a very long block, except for little curve made to avoid a big utility pole. We talk about how it’s a good thing that they made that curve or people would walk or ride a bike right into the telephone pole!
It’s gotten cold; the sun has hidden itself behind the clouds. It might rain. The green ball that we discussed before as it shimmered in the sunshine, is still hanging from it tree but is now just a plain green ball, without the sparks and reflections we saw an hour earlier.
And here’s a final note, about the thing that touched me most that day: my grandson held my hand the entire walk, there and back. Does it get any better than that?
Then it’s in the front door, full of news for Grandmom about our walk and our picnic.
This was the picnic day when Pop-Pop and Liam took a walk to his school and had a picnic. And here’s a final note, about the thing that touched me most that day: my grandson held my hand the entire walk, there and back. Does it get any better than that?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – JIM LEBUFFE
Jim LeBuffe is a grandfather, father, husband , brother, lifelong educator, and sometimes writer and traveler.