Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tots in swimsuits = grandma magnet

Sitting there on the beach watching Clara play chicken with the crashing waves and Kate pat down small mounds of wet sand, I can see the grandmas coming from far down the beach with their bright white smiles brighter due to their overtan faces - and I know what's coming, because it happens almost every time. Kate will look up from her sand creations, give a short wave, and say "hi!" The grandma, who may have been considering walking on by with only a smile, will have to stop now and tell the girls just how wonderfully precious they are. Clara will skip circles around the lady and say "hi" every time her foot hits the ground. Next come the stories of how long ago their kids were sitting on this same beach playing in the same way twenty or thirty years ago. They'll ask the girls their names and how old they are. Clara will pronounce "three" as if it started with an "f" and Kate will say "two" but hold up five fingers. The grandmas will beam at them. They will tell me where their kids are now and what they are doing and when their own grandchildren will be coming down to visit. They don't ask a lot of questions, and that's OK. They're only half present, taking a trip down memory lane. And then they begrudgingly pull themselves away and continue down the beach, looking back often. Then another one comes...

There is an aspect to the grandma visits that makes the beach more enjoyable for me. As I'm sitting on the beach with the kids, the memories of the morning's battles are still fresh in my mind: The crying over who got to sit on what stool, the refusal to do what I asked, the fights over who gets what beach toy, the running away naked when I'm trying to change them into their swimsuits. The grandmas of course do not remember those parts of their kids' beach days, as well they shouldn't. And when I'm sitting there with the kids watching the grandmas long to be me again, I find it easy to forget them too.

P.S. Kate is the one who likes to run around outside naked when I'm trying to put her suit on. The other day I met a lady at the condo complex who said to me, "I don't believe we've met. Your daughter, however, I've seen quite a bit of."


Anonymous said...

i want to see pictures! Where are the pictures!!! I'm craving them:)

Joel Bittle said...

I've been asked where the pictures are. Unfortunately, if there are any, they are on Tony's camera and won't be available to me until he gets back in a couple of months. We decided to take a disposable camera instead of our good camera and either the film was exposed or the bright sparks over at Walgreens ruined the pictures because none turned out.

We did have our video camera and when I get a moment I'll transfer some bits over to youtube and link it.