Kickass Grandparenting: “We Have Capable Hands”

You know how you get a phrase or a bit of a song stuck in your head? Well, that happened to Adrian this week; and all day one day he chanted it:

We have capable hands, we have capable hands,
weeeee have caaaaaapable hands.

“Where did you hear that, Adrian?” I asked, after the 27th time.
“On Odd Squad,” he said.

I wondered at the context in their new favorite show, but didn’t ask.

We’ve had three successive good weeks here at Three of Earth School. Dare I begin to believe it might be a trend? That maybe we have turned a corner, figured it out, made our peace with the way things are?

Elliot had one bad day last week, but I stayed the course. I didn’t let his bad day become my bad day, and what a difference. I remember when I turned that corner with my mother too. We all have bad days. Young humans don’t yet know how to manage them, and old humans don’t remember. It wasn’t once and for all then that I was able to stay out of it, and I don’t suppose it will be with these guys either, but I am figuring it out.

There are signs of spring—including the first toothwort, the earliest woodland flower—and the sun is shining, maybe that’s a contributor to better days.

Spring also means yard work.

Snow storm blow down across the woodlot trail access.
The woodlot, all cleaned up. Twenty-seven piles of small stuff and five heaping wheelbarrows of big stuff (not counting trail-blocking blowdown). From one winter. Capable hands, capable body.

I got my second Covid vaccination; and Wynne—as a teacher—has gotten her first. Both my son and other daughter-in-love—essential workers in North Carolina—are fully vaccinated and I am breathing a huge sigh of relief for them. In celebration of just forty-eight hours short of “fully vaccinated” myself (that is, two shots plus two weeks), I’m celebrating by writing this post at my favorite, formerly-weekly, writing cafe, after a full year away; and then I’m going to Lowe’s for gardening supplies . . . and a chainsaw.

We have capable hands, we have capable hands,
weeeee have caaaaaapable hands.

In another break-through, after a winter of inviting one or the other boy, or both, to walk in the woods with me and being met with very determined “nos,” they wanted to go to Staebler Point when they arrived on Sunday, and on what turned out be a long hike in the woods on Monday. Elliot watched for new buds with me, and Adrian checked out animal prints in the mud.

And one day they asked to pull weeds in the garden! Who are these children?

On the capable hands day, Adrian wanted to walk with just me, “on the high, high up trail” we’d all been on Monday. This time we were prepared with water and snacks. We didn’t make it to the high trail, he changed his mind, but it was a lovely time.

Another day, yet another excursion! He’s learning to choose and watch for landmarks. I don’t lead the way, he makes the decisions at the forks. We’ve been on all the trails nearest the house. If he chooses “wrong” trail he will recognize those we don’t usually go on. He’s learning capability. He will not be lost.

We have capable hands, we have capable hands,
weeeee have caaaaaapable hands.

After the forty-third time, I asked:
“Adrian, do you know what capable means?
“No.”
“It means we can do hard things.”

And we can. We are. One year since Covid-19 was declared a pandemic and the world shut down. One year since I’ve blogged in a cafe after a weekly habit of some twenty-five years. Five and a half months that my family has been attending Three of Earth School and Virtual Worksite. Maybe school will open next month, or maybe they will be with me until June 18. What I know is, when I think about them not coming anymore—hard as this has been for all of us—my chest tightens and tears fill my eyes.

“Adrian, would you like to have Camp Gigi this summer by yourself, and we can go for a hike in the mountains?”
“Yes! Can we take water and snacks? “
“Yes!”
“Just you and me alone time?”
“Yes! Just you and me.”
“And camping?”
“Um, let’s start with a hike.”

We have all been doing a hard thing, for a full year. A year of mostly staying home, wearing a mask to grocery shop in one-way aisles (something I wish would be permanent, but is already over in my town), washing hands like operating room staff, keeping hand sanitizer in the car cup holder, practicing yoga on Zoom, attending birthday parties on Zoom, adult beverages with friends on Zoom (actually I never did that, should have). It’s been almost a year and a half since I saw my other grandboys.

We have capable hands. We will weather this and then we will adapt to the next normal.

This just in: Washington’s governor will sign a proclamation “to ensure all school districts offer some in-person learning options (a minimum of 30% of the school week) to students by April.” Given that it most certainly will not be full time in Seattle and given my family drives 160 roundtrip miles every week for my help and now won’t be able to, this could be a challenge. Stay tuned.

We have capable hands, we have capable hands,
weeeee have caaaaaapable hands.

16 thoughts on “Kickass Grandparenting: “We Have Capable Hands”

  1. I am so glad to hear that your journey together has been a bit easier these past few weeks. It seems as though you have had many opportunities to practice letting go of attachment to specific outcomes and just go with what comes your way. Your resilience, creativity and love for these humans shines through. I know you will figure out how to navigate these new changes and hope that your cafe and forest continue to offer respite. Be well.

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    1. Exactly on the letting go of outcomes; it’s a hard lesson for me and I don’t take to the challenge well! You are exactly right though, and I appreciate that reminder so much. And hard as it is for me, it’s quadruple hard for a child navigating ADHD. I can work to provide an example, though. 💜

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  2. Teary reading this because I have been tracking the stress and strain underlying the moments of fun and exploration. They have provided a way to bring this global crisis into intimate focus, to get out of the huge issues and into the moment with two boys who will always carry you and the house and the woods inside them, no matter what. A time out of time that had lots of love and creativity. Capable–a more formal alternative term for kickass. Carry on, Gigi.

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    1. Haha! I love you so. We–by which I mean everyone across the globe who have remained free of the virus or of other serious hardship, which would be a whole ‘nother thing–have had a choice: to see this as ordeal or adventure. I’m glad I have gone along for the ride, bumps, curves, and all. And I’m glad you and the other queens have been there in cart with me.

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  3. Like so many things in life it seems as though once we finally get in a good groove everything changes. I imagine that’s how the Universe ensures that we keep stretching and growing and reaching our true potential. Happy for your good three weeks. You’re all in the home stretch. Blessed are the capable hands and hearts. After this I am guessing you will find creative ways to thrive in the new normal that awaits. Life, after all, is a practice. 

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  4. I almost wonder whether the change that’s coming will seem more momentous than the one a year ago. After a year of adaptation, this change will be sudden, and yes, there will be loss.

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    1. It feels like we are finally getting it together, and the boys–while they have long seemed happy to be here–have really started to take it for granted. Then whoosh, it will be gone. And they will lose not only my constant presence, but Wynne’s during the weekdays as well. I’m sure most families have been struggling, and returning to school will be a relief; but it will challenge this family differently.

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    1. Thank you so much. Always the change, always the adapting. I have a feeling the adapting will take precedence to learning in a back-to-school situation, but maybe it will help get fall off to a more familiar start. Who the heck knows! Just taking it as it comes, cuz that’s what we do, eh?

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      1. It did feel momentous! When I arrived around 7:30, there was only one other person there. Eventually I saw three of the regulars from the old days, who each smiled at me and I nearly cried. I will never know any of them, but I was so happy to see them. And to be recognized.

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