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For three of last five school years, I have traveled to Seattle weekly to spend time with my younger grandsons. During Elliot’s first year, then—after a one year break—for Adrian’s first year, I spent two full days a week of their infancy with them. It was to save money on the expensive infant care. Maybe I should have paid them. After another one year break, this past year I have spent one day a week with Adrian, who turned three last month. Because the visits all involved an overnight, I feel like I really know this beautiful family, the joys and the challenges. I’ve been part of their family.

My year with Elliot 2014-15

My year with Adrian 2016-17

Yesterday was my last day with AJ. I’m taking a break before the epic 12-day Camp Gigi begins at the end of the month. I didn’t even go to Girl Scout camp for that long until I was a good bit older than five-year-old Elliot! It will be fine. Yes. It will. We will get through the expected heartbreak when the moms leave for the other side of the pond and we will have time that is irreplaceable. They might even remember it 20 years from now; if not in their memory banks, in their hearts.

I spent this year with Adrian to provide more stimulation than he gets at daycare for his delayed language development. In these ten months, with weekly speech therapy and his moms’ love and attentiveness, and Elliot’s high verbal example—okay, and me—he has gone from pretty much no speech to constant conversation. His moms and Elliot and I even know what he is saying most of the time.

He is a delightful, hilarious, fearless little guy. I am so lucky to have had this time with him; and with the spirited and brilliant Elliot before and after school. Yes, before all you kind people write the words, they are lucky to have me too. Grandparent and grandchild is the most beautiful relationship the Universe has to offer. In my opinion.

Bonus year 2018-19

In the fall, Adrian will attend the younger level class of the excellent pre-K program Elliot has been in this year at the school where their Mama teaches kindergarten. If he needs it, he will have an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) and access to the speech therapist. I am honored to have been part of the bridge these months. He is ready to move on.

As I drove home down I-5 last night, I felt bereft. While I was also caring for my mother, the time with them was respite. This past year, my mother gone, it has felt like a chunk of time out of my week. I know, I still have five days a week to do whatever I want, and I’m not complaining. Mostly it was the 4-6 hours in the car, depending on traffic. I listened to a lot of audio books!

But now what? The summers and the years between the gigs, I felt a little out of touch. Leaving visits to chance, schedules get busy and it never seems to happen as often as planned. I loved that I have been part of the weekly schedule; part of the family, not just a visiting relative. It is going to take some work to make sure they continue to expect me to be part of their lives, looking forward to my arrival. I don’t want my presence to be an aberration in their lives like one of my grandmothers was in mine, like my children’s grandparents were in theirs. I think it’s important to all of them that I continue to be integral in the family too. We will make it happen.

Meanwhile, stay tuned for Camp Gigi.