Time for the Old Folks on the Zipline!

View looking up at someone riding a zipline


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(SENIOR WIRE) We recently drove from Wisconsin to the Carolinas to visit the grandkids. If we’re lucky, we get to bask in their presence twice a year. Rarely is it more than that. But this year, it was different, and sobering. They are growing up. And COVID didn’t help matters any.

There are no guidebooks for grandparenting as the children age. At least, I don’t know of any. It’s so easy when they’re younger. All it took was pulling out a storybook, or the crayons, or popping popcorn, and then snuggling to watch a Disney movie.

As they got a few years older, they enjoyed being pulled around behind the snowmobile or sledding at Wintergreen Hill. Then there were water parks and the zoo.    

Gone are the days when the youngest, Elizabeth, and I cuddle up to sing songs at the top of our lungs, giggling at our mistakes. Gone are the days when our grandson, Lewis, would climb into my lap for a conversation or color with crayons to create wondrous works of art. And gone are the days Leigh, the oldest, would bake cookies with me or decorate gingerbread houses.

Or are they? Maybe not. I think I’m still reeling from the realization that time is certainly not standing still.

Lewis is taller than us now at 15. Leigh has recently gotten a car after victoriously earning her coveted driver’s license. Elizabeth is blossoming into a beautiful, kind young lady (oh, gosh that makes me sound matronly), but it’s true.

They are all growing up, and time with the old folks doesn’t appeal like it once did. Well, to be fair, I think it still does, but too many other things get in the way these days.

Two years ago, we flew them up for the family camp out in July. It was a time of togetherness around the campfire, paddle boarding and kayaking, competitive games of UNO and cornhole toss, swimming, and lots of laughs. I think they enjoyed it as much as the entire family reveled in having them there.

On last year’s trip north, COVID and rain made it difficult, yet, on the one nice day we had, we took them zip lining (socially distanced and masked, of course). That was a hit!

It was a personal triumph for me as I am famously height aversive. It’s funny what a person will do for time and shared memories with grandkids. I zipped from tree to tree, over deep crevices and lakes right behind them. It was exhilarating!

This recent visit to their home was eye-opening. They are developing their own lives.

Leigh is looking at colleges as she’s going into her senior year this fall. She has a boyfriend and a job now. Lewis is a popular football player with a busy social life and a girlfriend. Elizabeth, whom I call my little Sunshine, has friends coming and going when she isn’t out on her skateboard.

So, where does that leave us? I don’t know that we can top zip lining.

Of course, past visits to the Carolinas have been spent with them in the mountains or at the beach. I am not ready to concede that we won’t see those times again. It’s just going to be somewhat challenging as we try to fit into their schedules.

I think the trick is to simply roll with it. I know they love us, and moments together may be harder to come by, but when they do, we will make the most of them. After all, watching them grow and flourish is such a gift. MSN

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