VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Catholic parents should vaccinate their children for the good of their…
Lessons from children and grandparents
At some point in the early weeks of the pandemic — I can’t remember exactly when — my parents started recording videos.
In our PC (pre-coronavirus) life, we had planned to see “Grama and Gramps” in March, then May, then July. Even with 550 miles between Indiana and North Carolina, we try to plan time to get together often. As it did for so many others, coronavirus stopped our plans in their tracks, with little knowledge of when they might be able to resume.
Technology, of course, is wonderful, and it has allowed grandparents to watch in real-time this spring and summer as grandkids jump in the backyard dinosaur pool, color intensely with crayons and paper, or do myriad other kid activities. But, as so many of you know, screens never will be equivalent to having little ones perched on your knees. As time went on, daily video chats got more tedious for the kids, especially the 3-year-old. And who can blame him? Being constantly “on” is no fun for anyone.
Wanting to stay connected with their two little buddies, my parents got creative. Benefitting from the fruits of their lifelong “waste not, want not” lifestyle, they pulled out of storage stuffed animals that reached their prime in the ’80s — or, in a couple of cases, the ’50s. They dusted off some classic children’s books, propped up their devices and began recording socially distant storytime.
At least once a week, they read Dr. Seuss, Arnold Lobel, Stan and Jan Berenstain and more, resulting in more than 40 titles. Throughout spring and summer, they created a video library that allows them to “read” to our kids whenever the kids want to listen. And as it turns out, the kids want to listen all of the time. We listen to “Grama and Gramps stories” while doing activities or while eating lunch. We listen to them sitting on the patio swing or while going for a walk. The aforementioned stuffed animals make appearances at the start and finish of each tale for a little informal chatter. My parents take turns narrating each story and doing the characters’ voices, and you can tell that they have actually planned it out and rehearsed who will say what and when. You can tell this because when things don’t go as planned — which happens somewhat frequently — they collapse into laughter. As does my 3-year-old. As does my 1-year-old. In fact, it’s just like they’re right here with us, with a kid on each knee.
Why do I bring this up, you might ask? Because my parents’ simple act of videoing children’s stories has reminded me of a couple of important things in this time of pandemania. The first is a lesson that my parents tried to instill in me throughout childhood, and that they continue to model to this day: that life is what you make of it. There is always an opportunity to produce good fruit from bad circumstances. They couldn’t read stories in person to the kids, so they’ve done the next best thing. And the kids have loved it. The second is to always laugh, even and especially when things don’t go as planned. Life will be sweeter because of it.
My parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in early August. We had intended to be together, but — 2020. So we had a video call with extended family, and my parents recalled memories from that day a half-century ago that resulted in a lifetime of joy. While it wasn’t what we had planned, we made the most of it, and we laughed our way through it. And, even in 2020, life was sweeter because of it. Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad. See you soon.
Gretchen R. Crowe is editorial director for periodicals at OSV. Follow her on Twitter @GretchenOSV.