With the stress of life, mixed with the sorrow of lost friends, the demand of daily routine and the worries about the future all weighing on my mind recently, it can be hard to think positive and focus on the good in my life sometimes. But I do know of one sure way to put a smile on my face and forget all my troubles: I spend time with Fletcher.
Fletcher is our third grandson, our son's only son. I am lucky that his parents live only minutes away from us, and that their daily schedules frequently require my skills as babysitter. That term is a misnomer, though, because Fletcher is far and away past the term "baby". His physical age is two years, 2 months and, though his vocabulary is still minimal, his constant curiositiy about the world and the knowledge he's already absorbed about it make him seem much older.
He never fails to greet me with a big grin that instantly makes me forget whatever problems I was dealing with prior to his arrival. Our hours together fly by. We explore books; I read, he turns the pages and pauses occasionally to point at something he wants me to identify or that he himself knows the word for. We invent ways to play with his myriad of cars, trains, puzzles, coloring books, and stuffed animals. We take walks to the playground where I follow him as he races from one area to another and back again, crawling through tunnels, climbing stairs. braving slides and requesting that I push him one more time on the swing. We go shopping together, and he delights in helping me at the grocery store by putting things into the basket with my help. We watch animated movies together, sitting side by side on the couch, I watching his expressions of discovery and delight as he watches the screen. In truth, I spend just as much time observing him as I do playing with him.
Fletch gives me an unprotected view of his world and, in doing so, reminds me why all the struggle and strife in my world are worth enduring. The wonder in his eyes, the constant joy he discerns in exploration, the smiles, the giggles, the shrieks of delight, and, most of all, his detailed perception as he learns something new about his world; all of these give glad meaning to my day.
I am repeatedly thankful that my son and daughter-in-law entrust his care to me. Yes, it means I have to set aside my work, or the housecleaning waits yet another day, or the phone calls I planned to make or the bills I need to pay get done some other time. But, when we're together, that tiny bundle of energy in sneakers and I, he transports me to an innocent place. I am absorbed in his agenda where the priorities are discovery and learning, resulting in unbounded hope and heavenly ignorance. Not a bad way to spend a few hours.