This week, Son and DiL are off on a well-deserved vacation and G/Son is hanging with me. The older that he gets, the more that I treasure these times. I know that they’ll become more and more infrequent as “real” elementary school, soccer practice, and the ongoing whirl of birthday parties draw him (as he should be drawn) out into the world and farther and farther away from Nonna’s orbit.
I did something that I haven’t done for years and years: cleared my calendar for an entire week. I worked like a madwoman for about three months beforehand, but it was worth it. Other than checking emails at night, I’ve ignored work and focused on G/Son.
His Montessori teachers sent some work with him (and I may be a lawyer, but I do have two degrees in education), so we’ve had a little schoolhouse on the screen porch every morning. While we do long addition, read Greek myths (heh), and write stories, the blue jays, cardinals, chipmunks, squirrels, and other assorted visitors come up and breakfast on the seeds that we put out. (G/Son’s favorite: the blue jays. “They’re so big!”) We’re keeping a list and we’ll alphabetize it at the end of the week, as G/Son’s also working on learning how to alphabetize words. (Nonna knows a trick that G/Son’s teachers appear not to know: write the words on slips of paper, move them around, THEN write them down.)
I’ve been interspersing big activities with some time for us to just hang out. One day, we took a commercial tour of my shining city on a swamp, so G/Son could learn some local geography and some American history. We drove through the city, past the monuments, museums, and most-well-known spots and then took a boat onto the Potomac River to see the city from the water. Those of us who live here seldom get to do these tours. Having G/Son was a good excuse. (One unlooked-for blessing: as we were leaving Union Station, we went past the fountain with the statue of Christopher Columbus, Blind Discovery, a Native American looking West to the New World, and a bearded European looking East to the Old World. It was the first monumental statue that I saw when, at five, I took the train to DC with my family and stepped out into what was to become my shining city on a swamp. It’s been one of THE most important themes in my dreams ever since and is still present, fifty-one years later. As we drove past it and the tour guide described it, G/Son whispered, “That was in my dream.” Of course it was.)
One day we went to the local playground, but got rained out by a storm that came through to water the hollyhocks that Nonna planted in the morning while G/Son watched. So we moved onto the porch (being on the porch while it rains is, well, heaven) and played several board games (Chutes & Latters, High-Ho-Cherry-O, The Magic Labyrinth (recommended by the wonderfully nerdy guys at Child’s Play and they were right; it has magnets! and walls! and magic symbols!)), and Uno. I am going to regret having taught this kid Uno. He’s lethal. I remember playing board games with my grandma; I hope G/Son remembers games on the porch with me.
Last night, we watched The Secret Garden and, this afternoon, G/Son and his toy, stuffed, brown bats, after making themselves mini-pizzas for a snack, are watching Into the Woods.
Today, we went to a local nature center for a program about Art in Nature. Goddess, I love naturalists. The wonderful one running this program had the three (including G/Son) little children who showed up (and all over town were parents wondering HOW to keep their kids busy on a Saturday) make music with things from nature (coconut shells, sand in a plastic easter egg, water slushing in a bottle, etc.). She showed them how to place plastic bugs and bits of trees and plants on photo-sensitive light paper and make light-exposure pictures. Since it was pouring rain (again) we didn’t go outside, but we mixed colors, and made paints, and painted pictures of the garden with Q-Tips. And then we read books about nature. G/Son read one about spiders.
Our plan to attend a camp-fire talk about raccoons at another nature center this evening was rained out, but we’ll probably go tomorrow and just walk around the nature center on our own.
Tonight, we’ll go outside and look for the SuperMoon (hopefully, the clouds will have moved on) and the meteor shower.
Later this week, we’ll go visit Landscape Guy’s garden (with a waterfall! G/Son is v. excited) and we’ll go to the National Art Museum to see Nonna’s favorite painting.
Is this the work of a Witch? Yes. Yes, it is. When I was raising Son, I was doing the work of Demeter, the work of THE MOTHER. And, now, I am doing the work of Baba Yaga, the work of THE CRONE.
What I’m passing on is the joy of simple pleasures outside. The love of place. History. Physical strength. A memory of a time when everything was OK and blue jays showed up for breakfast.
Driving into the city on the morning of our tour, we stopped to give some money to “my” homeless vet. G/Son had a lot of questions about that. He’s still processing how anyone can be without a home. His most recent pronouncement was: “Nonna, Your one dollar can just buy that man some food. But if everyone who drove past gave him a dollar, he could buy a home and have some children. And that would be better, wouldn’t it?” Indeed, it would.
And, that, too, is the work of a Witch.