Going Places

Going Places

From Chicken Soup for the Grandma's Soul

Going Places

Fun gives you a forcible hug, and shakes laughter out of you, whether you will it or no.

David Garrick

I’ve been to an N’Sync concert. I’ve snacked at Jekyll and Hyde, the popular theme restaurant. When Britney Spears was involved with a restaurant in Manhattan, I dined there. Am I a teenybopper? Ha! Far from it. I’ve visited playgrounds, amusement parks and Chuck E. Cheese’s. Am I a toddler? Of course not. I’ve been at the huge kaleidoscope in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York and visited Liberty Science Center where patrons are encouraged to touch and test the museum exhibits. Okay, now you’ve probably guessed it. I’m a grandmother.

You’ll find there are many perks to being a grandparent . . . once you recover from that initial shock. And I say shock, because no matter how lovingly anticipated, the birth of a first grandchild is a milestone moment. Many of us become grandparents when we’re not quite ready. It seems like only yesterday we were caring for our own babies, and now one of them has a child.

But soon we learn that grandchildren look upon the world with new eyes and that it’s quite possible to share that gift. They’re great company; they inspire us to go on quests without traveling to exotic lands and foreign shores. I’ve taken a couple of young ones on an elephant safari . . . on the Jersey Shore. Thanks to my pitiful sense of direction, we wandered about before finding our quarry. And there we were, looking at Lucy, the Margate elephant, a historical structure, once a publicist’s ploy to urge folks to buy property, then a tourist camp and restaurant, and now a fascinating building, complete with howdah atop. We climbed into one huge right leg, went to the upper story, looked out Lucy’s eye at the ocean and then climbed up to the howdah.

On a recent off-season visit to the giant kaleidoscope, we lay on the floor and looked up as the world changed before our eyes. Would I do that if I didn’t have a kid next to me? I’d love to say I would, but I doubt it.

Grandchildren allow us to enjoy the things that either weren’t around when we were kids or things we never got to see. Sure, I did some of this stuff with my own kids, but life was so busy then. Now I can enjoy all these little pleasures.

Merry-go-rounds—I’ve always loved them. I enjoyed riding the horses that didn’t move when I was a young child and riding the horses that went up and down when I was a teenager. Now I pretend I’m going just to take a toddler for a ride, but it’s a sham. I love every minute of it.

I’ve ridden merry-go-rounds at amusement areas and malls and on the historical flying horses carousel on Martha’s Vineyard.

I’ve visited a simulated rainforest where butterflies flitted about, landing on our shoulders and backs. I’ve been to a small local museum where huge, mechanized dinosaurs roared and shuddered. I’ve ridden the rails on the Hello Dolly train in the Pennsylvania Dutch country and clambered aboard the swan boats in Boston for an old-fashioned ride.

I’ve tuned in Nickelodeon and the Cartoon Network. I find it wonderful that despite all the changes in the world my grandchildren often watch the same cartoons and shows that I did years ago. We can watch Bugs Bunny or I Love Lucy together and laugh at all the same things. I thought I’d be bored at kids’ movies, but I’ve seen some truly original ones, like Babe and Toy Story and, of course, Shrek, while swiping a few handfuls of popcorn from my little compatriots.

There is always a grandchild willing to go for ice cream or pizza, and the kids love to traipse through the little candy store nearby and pick out penny candy the same way I did when I was a kid. There is always someone to laugh (and as they get older, groan) at a corny joke. And any grandkid under the age of eight is happy to be my dance partner when I have old-time rock ’n’ roll blasting on the stereo in my living room.

Just about everything, from making cupcakes to painting ceramics, is more fun when there’s a grandchild eager to learn how. All of sudden I’m an expert, despite my lack of skill in many such endeavors.

Dr. Seuss wrote a wonderful book called Oh, the Places You’ll Go! and I’m grateful that I have grandchildren to take me along.

Thanks, grandkids!

Carolyn Mott Ford

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