There are words in a 13-year-old’s vocabulary that make one sit up and take notice.
I feel as if I have taken a high intensity two week course in generational psychology. The gap is real. But it can be bridged.
Having a 13-year-old granddaughter is a delight. Having a 13-year-old granddaughter for two weeks in a vacation setting, without parents and in unfamiliar (for her) territory is an exercise in ingenuity, frustration, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants management, exasperation, laugh-until-your-sides-hurt silliness, exhaustion, exhilaration, wonderment, total joy, bemusement and occasional flashes of short-lived anger. All of it — the good and not-so-good, punctuated by a sense that this is real life. Life the way it should be, spontaneous and unrehearsed.
This is what relationships are all about. This is what binds parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren, and it has probably been this way since the concept of family became reality.
Her parents agreed (and so did she, because she was offered a choice) to let our granddaughter stay with us for two weeks longer than the rest of the family. She remained while parents and little brother went on to other adventures.
The adventure that surrounded us was unexpected — and it was awesome.
We had long talks. We also had extended periods of silence. We had smiles and frowns, hugs and giggles, as well as “I’ll be in my room” afternoons. And, I have to admit, we had lazy afternoons when the three of us retreated to our individual corners with our tablets and earbuds. We also had some “grrrrrrr” moments — on both sides of the age gap.
At the dinner table one evening, the subject of “growing up” came up in a roundabout way. At one point, she said, “Mom and I have been talking lately about adulting.”
Maybe you can imagine the look of surprise, the giggle that became a guffaw, the bewilderment with which Papa and Grammie greeted that sentence.
Adulting? Adulting, we asked, in amusement. What is adulting?
“Oh, you know,” she replied, “acting like an adult.”
We talked some more, smiled some more, and finished that dinner with good humor, but filled with the wonderment of it all.
Too soon the day came when we put her on the plane — alone — to return to her family. It was a first for her. It was an exercise in adulting!!
For all of us.