I smiled. Babies automatically do that - give you laser focus about the stuff that really, really matters. And even though there were many, many times in their teens I doubted any of us would ever want to spend time with each other again, my adult kids have made beautiful children for me to spoil and learn from and enjoy and laugh with, and love. Love in a way that is so breathtaking you can only experience it and not describe it.
The weekend before last I loaded the Grands into the car and we drove out to Kamas to the little October festival. The location was picture perfect on a picture-perfect fall day. Crisp but sunny with the leaves all changing. Rolling fields and pristine barns and a gurgling creek. We bought some of their produce and the eight year old later said the carrot was "honestly, the sweetest carrot I have tasted in my life." Considering the first year or so his carrots were pureed, I guess in seven years we have failed him such tasty delights.
The eleven-year-old girl and her nine-year-old cousin wanted to feed the llamas and talk to their babies. They all had their pictures taken in a little field of pumpkins. They rode in a horse-drawn wagon. They wanted to have their faces painted but decided the line was too long.
I had the little guy with me while the older two wandered off to see yet another small vendor booth. He was quiet while I sat on a log and retied my shoe. I said, "How ya doing there, buddy?" I expected to hear he was a bit bored. He looked up at me through his smudged glasses and said, "It is so peaceful here. I really like it." And my heart swelled and I whispered back, "It is peaceful here. Wanna just sit with me for a minute?" And we just sat there with the sun right on us so the chill went away. The warmth of the moment was one of those memory photos I tried to snap in my mind to glance at later.
The older two quickly bounced back, ready for the next thing. Which was us all heading back to town to visit their father and aunt's godmother.
With any luck, the new parents in town will learn this on their own: The grandparents will be there to offer forbidden (by the parents) drinks, snacks or bedtime rules or clothes to wear. The parents will worry and wonder and possibly, hopefully, have such appreciation for how their parents managed, that new bonds will have a chance to form. New ways of seeing sunsets and hay bales and even carrots will be given to grandparents who are perhaps on occasion slightly cynical to the joy of glorious day-to-day-ness.
I work at job where most weeks I see different kids, after school, at least four days a week. These are Park City kids not related to me in any way. I have grown, however, to become attached to them. To celebrate the C- on a test for a student that was failing that geography class. To love the boy's determination to finish his homework so he can curl up on the couch and read yet another new book. To appreciate the girl who is very bright but very distracted and very artistic, who would rather draw (and she is quite good at it) than tackle math.
If your world doesn't currently involve time with young children, find a way to fix that. You don't have to be related to them in any way to develop a relationship. Just volunteer consistently. You will be reminded how vast the world is to a curious mind. How simply a kind word can turn a day around completely after school. How encouraging someone to just do his or her best can be enough. And it will be like the sweetest carrot you almost took for granted. Then a day that maybe was feeling gloomy and repetitive and filled with sameness will light up like a Sunday in the Park ...
Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the director of the organization that provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.