Monday, July 5, 2010

A rite of passage...

Our oldest Granddaughter, Julia, just turned eight... ... and it has been a hard birthday for her.

Several weeks before her Birthday she begged me to take her to a small grocery store chain here called Trader Joe's. Trader Joe's not only has lots of the fresh fruits that this sweet girl begs for, but it also has little grocery carts...just made for kids.

It had been quite a while since I had taken her shopping there and somehow we managed to find time just for us and we headed there with great excitement. Oh, what fun! Grandma by herself, little grocery carts, all kinds of fruit AND balloons.

She went eagerly inside the door and snagged a cart and then got the funniest look on her face. "Grandma," she said, "I am too big to push this cart." I told her she wasn't and she started pushing it half-heartedly but abandoned the idea totally before we even got halfway down the first aisle.

"I'm too big now," she repeated, sadly, and we returned the small cart and got a regular sized one. Not nearly as fun.

She was quiet in the store and said, "no thank you" quietly to the idea of a balloon.

When we got in the car I asked her if she wanted to talk about it. She just shook her head and was pretty quiet until we got home. The cart was was forgotten when she jumped into the swimming pool.

On Friday night we went to a Birthday party for my sister at Chase Field. When the kids started getting bored my husband and I took Julia, along with her sisters, Mom and Aunt, to the kids level to see what was up there.

A really wonderful playground attracted the girls immediately and Julia went running over, only to stop abruptly when she encountered a sign that said "You must be shorter then this arrow to play."

She wasn't.

Again, that funny look crossed her face and my heart did a little twist of sadness for her.

We sat in the stands and watched the game while her sisters played and after a bit her warm, freckled hand joined mine. I squeezed it and she leaned against my shoulder.

And I felt sad for her.

I told her that sometimes it felt hard growing up and that the trick was to find other things to do. Things that were made just for an eight year old girl.

I told her we would go out this week by ourselves and figure out things just for her. And I'm hoping I can come up with something.

As "daycare" Grandma I have been so fortunate to have seen almost all of this little girl's "firsts"... first teeth, first steps, first successful use of the potty chair. Together we have had first swings, first slides, first swims, first stories. I've watched her get her first haircut, first training pants and go to school for the first time.
And now I am seeing a "last" that makes my heart feel sad.

We talk so much about treasuring each moment with our children and our grandchildren.

It does go by in the blink of an eye.

And we remember those firsts in scrapbooks, and stories and pictures.

But how do we know when something is the "last"?

If we knew when it was the last time they would want to sit on our laps for a story would we stretch that moment out and say the words really, really slowly so it could last forever?

Or if we knew it was the last time they could push that little grocery cart would we let them fill it up with strawberries and grapes and watch every tiny inflection of joy on their face so our heart could remember it forever.

At eight Julia is too young to know that change is often the catalyst to learn and try new things.

And I recognize in these "lasts" that we are also heading toward a time of many "firsts" as she starts this next part of her young life.

But oh, oh, oh.

I just want it to slow down.

Just a little bit.

And I would be even willing to let her hit me in the back of the heels again with that little grocery cart.

Just once more.

post signature

64 comments:

Rayna M. Iyer said...

My kids are six and a half and four and a half, so this post really resonates with me. The first, as you say, is easy to treasure, but how can you know which would be the last?
With the younger one, I try to treasure each moment, so if it is the last, I would have enjoyed it.

LuLu Kellogg said...

No tears dear Jenny....only big smiles!

She is absolutely beautiful! That read hair is the most gorgeous red I have ever seen.

Hope you had a wonderful 4th!

LuLu♥

LuLu Kellogg said...

No tears dear Jenny....only big smiles!

She is absolutely beautiful! That read hair is the most gorgeous red I have ever seen.

Hope you had a wonderful 4th!

LuLu♥

Jojo said...

Part of the fun in this process is going on the adventure hunt with a wonderful grandma like you to find new pleasures that are age appropriate. Bless both of your sweet hearts.

Jocelyn said...

Oh how I can so relate with this post....Evan too is now realizing that he can't do the things that he once did and that Gavin gets to enjoy these activities that he cherished...

But just think....she may now be big enough to do the things that she was not able to do before....new adventures.....love the pics and the wonderful tribute to your beautiful grand daughter!!! What a cutie she is!!!!

ain't for city gals said...

A sweet story Jenny..my niece Sarah (the light of my life) would always do the puzzle "Find the six differences" that is in the paper everday ...we did it for years. Then we stopped. I see it in the paper every once and awhile and I cut it out and send it to her..(she is now in law school)...I know it won't be more than a couple of days before I get a "I love you" phone call from her...so my moral of this story is ...they stop doing things but they remember forever...

Melissa said...

It moves so fast and so seldom do I know when it is the last moment... :(

A touching post.

Theresa said...

Watching little ones grow is bittersweet. She's a beauty and lucky to have a sweet grandma in her life. Had to giggle over the grocery cart hitting you in the back of the heels...Good Times!

Julie Schuler said...

I guess it's on to talking on the phone, clothes shopping and boys!

Meri Wiley said...

Hey sweet lady,

You hit a sore spot on the head with this one, however, as one of the kind ladies commented "they always remember." I've tried to raise all my kids with wonder, fantasy and an appreciation for being a kid. They do get sad about going from one level to the next, but they lovingly recall a lot of good memories. I'm hoping they will pass these memories and tributes on to their own children.

Love ya'
Meri

Terra said...

My mom spent a lot of time telling the girls "not to grow up" and as they are and they have she will often remind them that weren't supposed to and they will tell her "but Grams we have to" - I too wish they didn't have to.

Mary said...

She's adorable~ I love her red hair & freckles...it makes me a little sad too, looking at her grown up pose in her photo. I'm confident you'll come up with 8 year-old girl fun, since you come up with fun for this 48 year-old girl every week :-)

Ace said...

My "little" girl will be turning 18 later this month....and all those firsts and lasts have gone by in the blink of an eye.

Silke said...

Oh, Jenny, she is so adorable! That red hair and those freckles...stunning! I was remembering back to my childhood when I was reading this (it's amazing I can remember back that far...) and I remember those in-between ages when you don't belong to the younger group anymore, but you don't yet belong with the older ones either. Those times were tough, but also an exciting transition when I finally embraced it. It helped having girl friends my own age and having my very own beloved grandmother like Julia has you! A big hug for you both!! Silke

linda said...

Oh. You got me with this one. Our granddaughter, Alexis, is going to be 9 in September. She is growing up. Right now, at this point, she still comes and sits beside me and holds my hand, rubbing my fingers. Something she has done for comfort and love, since she could sit up by herself. I'm hoping she never grows out of it as she is growing out of so many other things.

The Words Crafter said...

I'm so glad she has you! Who would think of going out to find things just for an eight year old to do? I remember my niece going through this stage...I got her some tinted nail polish and lip gloss and a purse that wasn't cartoon-y but not quite grown up looking. She also became interested in reading and we got harder chapter books...and special bookmarks to go with them. Good luck!

The Words Crafter said...

I'm so glad she has you! Who would think of going out to find things just for an eight year old to do? I remember my niece going through this stage...I got her some tinted nail polish and lip gloss and a purse that wasn't cartoon-y but not quite grown up looking. She also became interested in reading and we got harder chapter books...and special bookmarks to go with them. Good luck!

My name is PJ. said...

Poignant. I remember similar things with my kids. And I remember a couple of different times thinking "this could be the last time..." and it was. Thinking that way helped me etch the memories in my brain.

Tolentreasures said...

You made me appreciate my tiring weekend with grandkids. They are so little and they really exhaust me sometimes, but the oldest will go to school this year and I can't figure out where that time went. Instead of sitting with me or playing in the dirt, last night he was throwing the football with the big boys.

Cathy

the thrifty ba said...

im so relating with this-my oldest is 9 and just last week i looked at him and realized how big he was. i almost started crying! i dont think of myself as old, but the thought of my kid really growing up is sad!
but i dont know if i can let him keep hitting me with the cart.

summersundays-jw said...

I feel your pain. I looked at old 4th of July pictures yesterday & couldn't believe how fast they had grown & how much our world had changed in that short amount of time. My Sage is 8 & last night as I started to leave after fireworks, I could see him running through the yard to come give me a hug. Hope some things never change.

Keetha Denise Broyles said...

That is one CUTE cake!

Jeanie said...

That little beauty is lucky to have a grandmother that understands these passages in her life and she will remember how you helped her through them. Maybe it is time for a Jenny/Julia trip to Disneyland where she will be tall enough to ride everything.

Sami said...

Change is tough. It must be so befuddling for an eight year old, too. I have faith that you'll pull through for her (and that AMAZING red hair of hers!!)... you're Super Jenny! *fanfare noise* :)

Pixie said...

Very beautiful Jenny! Yours words never cease to make me smile or inspire me!

And it's sad when they grow up, that's why I vowed I'd never tell my kids that they were "too old" for anything.

It's one thing to come to that conclusion on your own, but to be told by someone you love and look up to that you're too old kinda hurts.

Linda @ A La Carte said...

Oh Jenny you are the best Grandma! I hope to be like you! The last time, wish we knew! Mine girls are so grown now and one of these days I will once again get to treasure moments with a little one but until then I listen to you and learn!

Diana said...

My granddaughter will be eight soon too. It is sad for me seeing her grow so fast! I am just so grateful for the strong bond that we have between us! I love that birthday cake, really cute! Love Di ♥

Cheryl said...

This was poignant and brought back memories of watching so many firsts with my younger siblings, niece, nephews, great-nephew, great-nieces, and friends little ones. It also reminded me of the new firsts when those lasts had slipped away.

Vicki said...

You know of my 'last times'....

Totally cherish every moment all you can..and you are :)

Have fun finding 8 year old things. Just look, there are many magical moments to come...

Mighty M said...

I never think much about the "lasts" either...she is such a sweet girl. What a cute birthday cake.

Busy Bee Suz said...

This is so sweet Jenny. I agree with you, I am seeing the 'lasts' for my girls and knowing that there are more 'firsts around the corner as well.
Love these photos...you have a beautiful family and not just on the outside. :)

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Jenny, this is beautiful. You've really captured the sadness of the child who is conscious of leaving something behind... but with your company and encouragement she'll discover great new things. We are so lucky to be our grandchildren's daycare providers!

Tgoette said...

Jenny what a lovely post! As a father of two I can relate to the sorrow of watching as the innocence of childhood vanishes at an ever-frantic pace with each passing birthday.

I suppose the only consolation is that those "firsts" will only be replaced with all-new ones that help shape and define the adults that they eventually become.

cjschlottman said...

Jenny,

This is so painfully real. Growing up is so complicated, and it seems to me that Julia is having more of a rough go than some. She is blessed to have you - and you her.
Please let us know what you decide to do together that is a little more "age appropriate" for her.

((Hugs)),
cj

Cheryl D. said...

This made me cry! I see my little girl growing up so fast! I recently tried to pick her up, and it was so hard! I'm still doing it from time to time (particularly when she's tantrumming and refusing to leave somewhere), but I know it'll soon be the last time I pick her up.

Your grand daughter will soon realize all the cool things she's getting big enough to do!

Ms. Anthropy said...

My oldest granddaughter just turned 30, um, I mean 11! Sure acts like she's 30. I miss so much about her young years, when she thought I was the most special person in the world and I was teaching her and experiencing all her firsts. I miss those days!

JDaniel4's Mom said...

I feel so badly for her. JDaniel is just starting to get to the age where he will start this things. I need to start to take pictures mentally and physically on them.

We are getting a Trader Joe's here in Greenville. JDaniel will love the cart.

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Jenny, this is SO beautiful and bittersweet. I think it's one of my favorite things you've written. Do you know when I was little, I can remember lying on a field of clover in our front yard and looking up at the sky. AND in a moment of stark realization, I wondered to myself if it would be the last time I would do that??? I remember it as if it were yesterday, and I grew up and didn't do that again. The next year I was too grown up. But I reveled in that moment, and to this day, I can still remember it.

And now, as a "senior," I am starting to do things over that I did when I was young... learning to "play" again. I play with dishes. I play with hats. I play with friends. I play with Mr. Magpie. It's important. It is what gives flavor to life. That and loving God.

XO,

Sheila :-)

Write Chick said...

This was so well written. My little girl is eight and growing old so fast. I forget to enjoy those moments, forgetting that it might be the last time. Thanks for helping me to remember to appreciate these times with her.

I'll be visiting your blog often.

imaginationlane said...

That was so touching, Jenny! My sons are grown men now, but as I read your piece I could see them clearly at that age..learning that the world was bigger than just them, and taking first tentative steps toward their larger future, even with one hand holding tightly to the present.

Your Julia is lovely. Please accept a warm hug..for her, for you..and for the special bond you share.

Lynette

Aunt Amelia's Attic said...

Awwwwwwwww, what a sweet post!

And I do so hope that she embraces her red hair! Our Grand didn't for some time. That was a super thing about age though... When she realized that it's something to treasure... Something unique and a "GOOD thing." :-)

Aunt Amelia's Attic said...

Yes, the Grand who is in Japan for 6 weeks! Time flies! Yikes yes!

Theresa said...

Oh my heart knows exactly ALL about this! We just recently watched my 11 year old grandson NOT get to play in a play area at a local restaurant. I remember when my oldest granddaughter was too big for things and it just breaks a Ganky's heart!

Julia is a precious doll and I know she loves the closeness you two have! I know I enjoyed all of these firsts and am there with hugs for the lasts!

BIG hugs dear Jenny! Have a blessed evening!

The Muse said...

Reading your post tugged at the very center of where I am most vulnerable...

I feel the emotional drumbeat, its tempo increasing quickly and I, like you am desperately trying to HOLD or to STAY those moments from flashing by in haste...

or, if they must...
to at least, savor every second I am given.

Poignant...and heart stirring!

Lourie said...

Awww poor thing. I feel her pain. It's tough getting taller faster than the average kid. *sigh* My oldest often wishes she could go back to being a little kid--like 9 shhh don't your grand that!--mine will be 13 in September. She knows enough to know it's okay to grow, but still longs for those times when she could push the little cart.

Judie said...

One joy I had when I was younger than 8 was a jar of bubbles and that plastic wand. I will never forget the feeling of being to old to blow into that wand and watch the bubbles fly.

Hurrah! I became no longer too old to enjoy that simple pleasure when I became a parent, and now a grandparent!

Remind your beautiful and sweet granddaughter that those fun things are not gone forever.

Lindsay said...

oo happy birthday Julia! Growing up can be so tough sometimes! That cake looks yummy!! I hope you guys find some fun activites this week!

Jami said...

Well said, Jenny. I think this is why I like photography so much. I have a feeling of desperation about catching those firsts and lasts, especially since, as a mother of 4 very close-in-age children, my real life is often so hectic and loud that I am sure I would not remember the "moments" without a camera to record them. And while that is true, I can also be accused of not cherishing the moment because I am ready for the next phase. Thanks for the reminder.

aimee said...

i feel so sad for her. its tough being caught between being too big to do some things, but too little to do others. it is a great idea to find things you two can do. i loved having girls day with my girls. we would go to the store buy junk food, new nail polish, and rent a movie. we had the best time. we would have ice cream night (with all the toppings), play a game, or rent a movie and stay up late, cause only big girls get to stay up late. you both are going to have so much fun finding things to do, and growing closer together. she is beautiful :)
blessings,
aimee

Marlene said...

She's adorable!!! Happy Birthday to her!

gayle said...

I have tears in my eyes 'really' b/c I have thought about that with Bryson. Already at 3 1/2 he doesn't want to cuddle as much. He will probably be my only Grand so it really makes me sad to think that this will be my last time for little cuddles, kisses and sweet baby hugs. I don't want it to end but it will.

My Grama's Soul said...

Oh I know the experience of taking a grandchild to Trader Joe's. My grandson is 7 and the last time I took him he thought it was so cool. But who know next time......he just might be "too big". Time does fly by too soon.

Xo

Jo

Jen said...

Oh Jenny, this is SO true!!!!! I remember when this happened with my girls and it does hurt! Oh, just this weekend I gave my little one (she's 8) a piggy back ride, she didn't ask, I offered. She doesn't ask much anymore, because she's getting tall and I have had some issues with my back recently, but I LOVED giving her that piggy back ride, because you are right, too soon they will outgrow things. Your grandchildren are SO lucky to have you. God Bless you!!!! I think I will have to write a post similar to this on my blog.

Slamdunk said...

Happy belated birthday wishes to your granddaughter. Thanks for the touching thoughts in this post.

Pondside said...

No tears, Jennie - just hope that, like you, I can share enough of my grands' baby years to have no regrets, but it's hard when they're across the continent.

Sares said...

What a sweet post. Poor kid. There will probably be more disappointments for her, but of the joys of more firsts ahead of her too! Happy Birthday to your Julia.

Sorry I haven't been by lately to visit, I've been blogging lazy. In the extreme!

Jules said...

The advantage to having grandchildren is we get to go through those firsts and lasts all over again....

Tina said...

Oh yes. Firsts and lasts. Treasured moments. So precious. Thanks for a great reminder of making the most of every moment. She's lucky to have a Grandma like you.

Nancy C said...

That is so beautiful. Thank you so much for this.

My heels are still hit, but I see it as a gift now.

Aging Mommy said...

What a beautiful post Jenny. What a wonderful Grandma you are as well to tell her you will take the time this week to figure it all out with her, how she is growing up and has to say goodbye to some things but embrace what comes next and all the hellos ahead.

Time with our children goes by so very, very fast. Next time we go shopping and my daughter hits my heels with her cart I don't think I am going to even notice, so busy will I be watching her enjoying being a little girl.

"Alone again.... naturally!" said...

All I can say is....awww, and I want to hug my granddaughter right now. She is only 8 months, but there are many things she isn't doing anymore that she used to. And they are moving, maybe far away, where I will not get to have that hand in mine and the head on the shoulder. Hope your grand finds all the great things an eight year old has to be excited about! Great days ahead! Cathy

Chatty Crone said...

Life is always bittersweet no matter how old we are. The thing I think is so different for us - is the older we get - the more we value ANY time. Sandie

Amy said...

Man! You just made me cry! I live in dread of the day my children grow up... and they are doing it every day right in front of me. And I never thought about the lasts until now. The last time they will do certain things... but I guess that is because I am always looking forward to the next thing. The next toddler bed, the big kid bed... sharing in the firsts helps the lasts not hurt so much, I guess. Such food for thought...

BECKY said...

Oh, Jenny....this gave me goose-bumps. You have written exactly what I feel, and say. Are you still looking for "8 Year Old Girl" things? At the moment, I'm only coming up with one thing, but it's something you've probably already thought of, too....