The last year has been a really hectic one and it’s interfered with me taking time out to write about all the silly stuff floating around in my cluttered brain. I left the multitude of mini-crises rule my days and forgot that when all is said and done, these things rarely turn out to be as important as we perceive them at the time of the “crisis.” This morning I woke up and realized that I’ve just been taking life too seriously.
Yes, it’s important to try to keep our heads on straight when others in our lives need our attention and care, but it’s equally as important to remember to honor our own needs. I need to laugh. And I need to do it a lot. Without laughter, I find life a bore and a drudgery. When I can’t find anything humorous about demands on my personal time, I thank God for grandchildren.
This summer has been filled with four of them taking turns to come and spend a week with Grammy. I always look forward to the time we’ll spend together, but I also know that there will be issues of some boredom and miscommunication. There IS after all, an age gap. The result is me finding something tremendously funny while the grandchild in question doesn’t find my humor very comforting. But the same happens in reverse. I’m not always amused by something one of them takes in their head to act upon. I guess it really sucks for them, since I’m the adult and I always hold my rank over their heads.
Aurora is going to be 12 in a few weeks. When I look back over her short life, I find myself relieved that she is getting older. She was a real pill from the time of her birth until about a year ago. She was constantly doing things that left the rest of us scratching our heads in wonderment and concern regarding her interaction with her world and the people in it.
She’s been visiting this week. It hasn’t been a good week considering that the weather was either so hot we couldn’t spend more than a few minutes outside without heat exhaustion taking over, or the rain was coming down so hard it was impossible to make any plans. Wednesday turned out to be a good day. We had plans to swim at my mother’s house. When we go over to swim, it’s an all day affair that includes hamburgers, chips, homemade cupcakes, and all the rest of the fixings for an outdoor barbeque.
During our meal around the patio table, conversation turned to reliving past memories. Aurora decided to regale us with some details related to her failed attempt at running away from home when she was in first grade. At the time, the incident was anything but funny. She had been diagnosed with Aspberger’s Syndrome only a year before. That had helped to explain a lot of what was going on with Aurora, but it also meant many hours of therapy to help her learn proper socialization and understanding of the people in her world.
Aurora is the second of four children, all born within a year or two of each other. She is the same child who took a nose dive out of a tree and fell face first into a pile of logs and sticks. It’s the same Aurora who was so clutzy she would trip over her own feet, falling down so hard that her face bounced off of her own knees causing black eyes and goose eggs. She is the same little girl who couldn’t maintain a sense of balance if someone bumped her lightly in passing.
At the time in question, her mother was going to school full-time while still running a household. Their father who had worked the third shift for most of the marriage, had just switched to daytime. Life was exhausting, to say the least, but Aurora sometimes made it even more difficult.
On one particular evening, Aurora was feeling somewhat unloved and uncared for simply because Mom had decided that fighting over toys was not permitted. The order came down that Aurora would have to share with her sister and brothers. To Aurora’s way of thinking the command was unfair. It didn’t matter that the toy in question belonged to her sister. Nor did it matter to her that her sister had been willing to share. She wanted the whole enchilada and wasn’t settling for anything less.
Her refusal to get with the program led to a mother-daughter discussion about why Aurora believed she should have the toy when it belonged to her sister. The answer was simple…because she wanted it. When asked if she was willing to give one of her toys to her sister in exchange, she said no because her toys belonged to her. This was going nowhere fast. In exasperation, her mother decided Aurora didn’t need to play with ANY toys for the evening and could just go to bed to think about the error of her ways.
Outraged to be dismissed so casually, Aurora exclaimed that she would be running away. Mom laughed at the idea, because where they lived was a bit removed from town and they were quite a distance from anyone known to the family. Aurora was quick to remind Mom that her grandmother (the other one, not me) lived pretty close by. Again, Mom laughed and told her errant daughter that Grandma’s house was too far away, and it was dark and scary on the roads leading there. Besides, Mom was sure Aurora wouldn’t be able to find her way.
It was around midnight when Mom and Dad were awakened from their slumber by a pounding on the door. The police were there because Aurora had decided to show Mom that she COULD run away, and that she COULD find Grandma’s house, even in the dark. After some questioning, the full story came out. Aurora had claimed that her parents never did anything for her, that they didn’t feed her, that they didn’t get her anything, and always punished her. The officers were left scratching their heads when they were faced with a child telling such stories when the evidence certainly didn’t support the story. Aurora had managed to walk more than a mile along dark, tree lined roads carrying two pillowcases filled with toys and stuffed animals, a book bag filled with the same, and a suitcase, also filled with her possessions.
During the retelling of the story, Aurora filled us in on some things we hadn’t previously known about. When asked why she had done such a thing, she said she wanted to prove to her mother that she was very capable of running away…even in the dark. We had all wondered how she managed to go so far without being seen by a passing motorist. It was odd because even though they lived a little out of the way, the traffic on the roads was somewhat consistent because their home was located behind a major hospital.
Aurora smiled sheepishly, her face reddening a little before she launched into an explanation of how she believed it was accomplished. While walking down the road from home, she passed a driveway that had a garden gnome standing by the side. The gnome was short, smiling and pointing it’s arm down the road. Aurora was inspired. Whenever she saw headlights coming her way, she dropped her burdens and stood very still like a statue. She made sure one of her arms was pointing up or down the road, while her expression imitated that of the garden gnome.
At the end of her explanation, she laughed about how it had “almost worked.” One of the passing motorists was the next door neighbor, who recognizing Aurora, proceeded to call the police. Aurora ended her story by repeating the words of the policeman to her mother: “We kind of knew something wasn’t right with her story when she had so many bags packed with toys.”
Ahh..yes, the joys of being a grandparent! We get to hear about the stories after they’ve occurred. We get the laughter that comes in the end without having to deal with the immediate chaos and confusion of the moment. I have loads of stories about my own children and their escapades, but nothing is more satisfying than getting to watch those same children face their share of parenting ordeals. Yes, life certainly is funny!