We all had a wonderful escape a week ago from our joint Three of Earth Farm Covid adventure: me to Sequim Bay on the northern edge of the state; they south of the border to Oregon. I had a wood stove and silence; they had a hot tub and an ocean.

They took water clothes and rain gear.

I took cozy.

We came back ready to mush on together; and with a slightly different goal: keep the peace, be happy, take good care of the big and the little people. Who cares if Elliot’s asynchronous learning doesn’t happen and Adrian doesn’t learn to count past twelve? I’m all about cozy in this new year. How can I make their time with me feel more cozy and less traumatic? How can I take care of myself?

I got them into the woods one time this week. Part of taking care of myself is not playing tag and hide-and-seek, but it’s the only way they will agree to go outside. “NO TRAILS!” What the heck is that about? There was no place I would rather have been at their ages. At least in my possibly revisionist memory. I stood firm. The moms can do tag and hide and seek; I don’t have agree to everything. They agreed to go to the woods only if they could play at their “dip,” and not go anywhere else. Yep, absolutely; as long as you want.

I know, you can’t even see the dip. But trust me, you can’t help but run down it.

Adrian learned balancing skills. He got quite good at it by week’s end; can ballet toe shoes be next? Elliot made a Venn diagram (gleaned from a graphic storybook he’s reading, but with an exploratory question all his own). He shared it with his class, inspiring mirth from his teacher and from a classmate’s observant (and Venn-impressed) parent. Always happy to lighten someone’s pandemic life.

We did the old baking soda/vinegar chemical reaction study; and somehow, miraculously, they played a game with me.

I turned a pretend story slog with Adrian into a mandala and another one into a math activity, without his realizing it. Damn, I’m good.

I sat on the sofa and read briefly one afternoon while Elliot was in class and Adrian quietly played with play dough. I am unclear how that happened.

We built forts, with Elliot’s number pad entry system (sshh, the code is private); and they played together with Duplos and plotted in secret; I think about how they were going to trick me into not knowing they were going upstairs to watch “Number Blocks” on Elliot’s school iPad, since their iPads are on a high shelf at home these days.

I finished my “Cozy” book finally (I first wrote about it here) and realized how I have unconsciously been incorporating the concept into my well-being lately. “There is so much of cozy you can touch with your hands—a book, bathwater, a mug—but a lot of cozy responds to the ether, the mystic, the ritual and spiritual” (Isabel Gillies).

I get up 5 o’clock early to enjoy leisurely coffee and reading or writing, then go for at least a short walk, rain or shine, before the classroom day starts. I enter the portal into the other-world—it’s a long story, but I’m amazed it’s still standing—and walk silently in the mist listening for the hidden tittering birds in the tree tops.

During my daily breaks—thirty minutes at mid-morning recess and forty-five minutes at lunch—I sit in my chair in my suite with a book, tea, and chocolate at recess; a book, food, and shut-eye at lunch. I retire after I do dinner dishes and watch TV and knit. Always in this chair a NC friend passed on to me when she moved to New Mexico (is it not the epitome of cozy?), with my favorite lap blanket, my favorite mug, the electric fireplace, and candles.

Sometimes Lena comes out from her hiding place and joins me. But mostly not until evening, when somehow she knows the exuberant ones have gone to bed. On the weekends, when the family is at home, she returns upstairs; shown here doing downward facing cat while I did Zoom yoga on Saturday. On the weekends, I pray it will be damp or chilly enough for an evening fire. Because that is a synonym for cozy. Which rhymes with Covid. (Well, not really.) My weather-delayed second vaccination is happening this Sunday.

I noticed late this week that Adrian has stopped referring to returning to Seattle for the weekend as going “home,” or telling me my favorite stuffy (Hippo Hug) is at home. Instead, he’s saying “my other home” or “the yellow house.” It rolls off his tongue easy as cozy. I suppose it’s a little bit sad, but it’s a reminder that it’s the children who are doing an incredibly brave thing through this crisis, and they are adaptable and resilient. They will be fine, even if the four year old starts kindergarten next year unable to write his name, and the seven year old doesn’t form his letters from the correct beginning point. There are always toe shoes and Venn diagrams to celebrate. And there were no bad days this week! That is cause for rejoicing!

Cozy moments are sometimes fleeting, but the bursts are everywhere. It’s up to us to find them. Take care of yourselves.

12 thoughts on “Kickass Grandparenting: No Bad Days

  1. Oh! I forgot to say, my 6 yr old grandson looked at all the photos and completely enjoyed all of them, esp. the forest, the mandala, the counting cubes, the cat, the hot tub and beach, the science experiment, and got a huge laugh out of the basket over the heads. Oh, and we puzzled over the number grid for a while trying to figure out what it was, but now I realize it was the number pad lock! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha! I love that he looked at the photos…and loved, um, all of them! Yes, a number pad lock; and he cut a slip of paper with the code written on it to remind him how to open it. I believe it was 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9. 😂 And he hates his little brother’s “pretend stories.”

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  2. What a lovely read. It even made me feel my own coziness.
    I so applaud your newfound (re-found?) commitment to happy and easy. I’m completely in favor of whatever kids learn this year will be something other than what has been traditional, and will be so much bigger and better in so many ways, especially with loving adults who have time to play ridiculous games. Learning resilience is huge, and I take a note from my own grandkids on that. Learning that adults take care of their own needs is also a great life lesson.
    And whoever invented the word asynchronous when it comes to kids learning? I’ve puzzled over this all year. How does one learn and not learn at the same time? Ugh. Don’t get me started on school. Good luck with the vax – I just got my first. –Nanc

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    1. Thank you! Asynchronous is a ridiculous word; and so NOT cozy! Yay for your first vax! Maybe we really can meet up somewhere this spring! I think Elliot’s school is doing okay; but it doesn’t take into account children’s different levels. Independent math learning this week was longer and shorter. Seriously? First grade busy work. We exploded red food coloring on the kitchen counter instead.

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      1. Hilda Klager Lilac Gardens, if they reopen. I’ve never been. I’m pretending these boys won’t balk at anything out of the ordinary. 🙄 If school opens for all of them, we can meet there child-free!

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  3. A little heart-skip over here to hear “no bad days” ❤ Sounds like the break did you all good. What I most look forward to for you, is a time when your primary role with them goes back to “Gigi” and then to jumping ahead fifteen years from now when you all reflect back and realize how little of the hard stuff will even be remembered. I think you are all amazing humans. And yay for shot #2 ! That must feel great !

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  4. Dear Gretchen,

    What an extraordinary piece of writing! I am right there in the Three of Earth Farm school with you. Your creativity and honoring of these two beautiful, unique, and, yes, sometime challenging little boys is amazing. Phenomenal growth on the part of all three of you! Thank you for your honesty of writing and sharing. With love and respect, Ann


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