Watching My Grandchildren Play Keeps Me Young At Heart


Every once in a while, I offer to watch the grandchildren for a couple of days in a row. My daughter thinks this is to give her a break (and it is, sort of), but mostly I just need to be around youth and exuberance or I’ll crack up.

This morning, after eating a healthy breakfast and watching two of their amazingly vacuous television shows, they started playing with the toys I had dragged in for them from the porch. They would spend all day in front of various screens (TV, iPad, phone) if I let them, but I discovered that setting out their toys will usually lure them into creative play.

Once they get started, I get to sit back and listen to conversations so much more interesting than adult conversations. Out with politics, pandemics and personal problems. In with dolls, Matchbox cars and little green soldiers.

From Skippy, age 8: This is Area 51. My army men are protecting it. “Keep out! Keep out! HALT!”

Skippy again (but in a different voice): “We don’t have to halt! We’re from Canada!” (Canadians who want to visit Area 51, take note.)

From Tess, age 6: And keep your army men keep out of my doll’s house!

Skippy (aka Sgt. Biggs): “We’re coming in! We’re looking for our missiles!”

Tess (in a different voice): “We don’t have your missiles! Pinky promise!”

Sgt. Biggs: “Why are those horses staring at us?”

Tess: “Those are my guarder horses. Stay away!” Then, in an aside to one of her dolls, “We only have three of their missiles anyway.”

Mixed in with that, there are a lot of tank noises, whinnying noises and general hubbub. I love it; I absolutely love it. Even when the inevitable argument breaks out…

Skippy: She took her car out of the line! It’s not in the lane anymore!

Tess: I cut ahead. I made my own lane.

Skippy: Grandma!

Me: Well, Skip, a lot of roads have two lanes.

Skippy: Not this one!

Tess: OK, I’ll stay in the lane. But my car gets to be in front.

And play resumes.

Sigh. If only Congress could hammer out their disagreements so quickly. You wonder if they’re even trying sometimes. But I think they would be just as motivated as these two kids if they had to go home together at night — and share a bedroom and the dog.

It’s true. Everything you really need to know, you learned in kindergarten.