What’s Important

baby

© James Pyles

I’ve been thinking about what is and isn’t important lately. Yes, there are a lot of arguments on the web positing this cause or that as important, and the authors declaring anyone who isn’t wildly enthusiastic, embracing, and endorsing of their project as horrible, terrible human beings.

Oh well.

I admit to being caught up in all that from time to time…okay, most of the time, but then I stop and realize that for the sake of my emotional and mental health, I can’t let other people or groups wind me up like I’m their toy doll. For instance, occasionally, I’ll get a troll in my one of my social media feeds attempting to rile me, but when I confront him, he denies it, saying he was just trying to understand my position more.

So it goes. Most of the time, I don’t even respond to him. His presence is almost always one where I can predict what he’ll say and even on which of my posts he’ll respond. A few others like him who used to do something similar, while remaining my Facebook “friends” or following me on twitter, otherwise are absent, but I must admit, I have also “muted” them as well, again because I don’t need the aggravation (and now that I’ve satisfied the requirements of Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie’s Opposing Forces challenge, on with the show).

So what is important? Lots of things, but I’m going to focus on my three-year-old granddaughter. My son and his ex are divorced and one week the kids stay with their Mom, while the opposing week they stay with their Dad (and with us much of the time).

Now that our ex-daughter-in-law has a new job, she’s asked my wife to watch our granddaughter Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday when our son doesn’t have the kids. Our nine-year-old grandson is in school and takes the bus back to his Mom’s afterward, hanging out with his other Grandpa (the man has a number of disabilities, and while my grandson would not be challenging for him for a few hours, spending all day with an active, curious three-year-old certainly would).

Our backyard faces the parking lot of an elementary school, and every Wednesday afternoon, the local library bookmobile is parked pretty much at our back fence. Our granddaughter loves books, so she’ll take the little one back there to look around for something interesting to read.

Last Wednesday, I got home from work just as my wife was trying to get our granddaughter up from her afternoon nap. Sometimes, she’s a real “sleepyhead” and is difficult to rouse. That’s what was happening when I walked in from the garage, but the instant my granddaughter heard my voice, she cried “Grandpa’s home!” and rocketed out of our spare bedroom and down the hallway toward me.

I picked her up and she rested her head against my shoulder for several seconds. Then she got all excited about going to get more books, so my wife and I walked her down the little path between two neighbors’ homes to the school.

I don’t recall if it was the same day or a different one, but she wanted to play “Come find me,” which is a much less sophisticated version of “Hide and Go Seek.” She likes to hide behind my wife’s clothes in our walk-in closet, and even though I know exactly where she is, she still says “Come find me, Grandpa,” over and over again.

I don’t remember how it came up, but I think she asked me where I’d been during the day. I told her that I had to work just like her Daddy and Mommy, but she disagreed. “You have to stay here, Grandpa.” I asked why, and three-year-old logic responded with “Because,” and later “Because I want you to.”

What it boiled down to is that she wants me around all day long so I can play with her. It’s her version of saying, “I love you.”

That’s what’s important. She’s what’s important. She’s not the only thing important to me. Her brother’s important, too. So is the rest of my family. But my granddaughter is at an age where everything is still brand new, and a leaf on the ground or the bushes in our backyard are terrifically fascinating. She loves picking basil off of the plants we’re growing and eating them. It’s amazing to watch how her mind operates as she explores her environment.

I mentioned in this blog post that I believe there’s a difference in how our grandchildren react to us based on gender. I’m sure a lot of people will disagree with me, saying that gender isn’t binary and that there are no appreciable differences between men and women except as assigned by culture.

That’s fine. I’m discussing my own experience and who is a better expert on such a topic than me?

Sure, there’s some overlap. Our granddaughter can choose to come to either my wife and me to be comforted when she’s hurt or scared, but it’s possible that she feels more “nurtured” by my wife and more “protected” by me. I can’t prove it, but it makes a sort of sense.

She’ll do more arts and crafts with my wife, but go outside with me to explore. I’ve seen her grab a long, tubular squirt gun, wielding it like a sword, and then say, “Let’s go, Grandpa” as we embark on a journey of discovery in my backyard. Then she inventories the side of our house where nothing grows, and where we’ve laid flat chunks of rock over the gravel, so she can explain to me “flat vs. pokey.”

My granddaughter has inherited the little playhouse we originally got for her brother when he was much younger, and my wife got her little tea sets and tiny plates and utensils. Those, she’ll use to make me “coffee,” and when it’s warm, we’ll give her some water so she can “cook,” and then we’ll “eat” together.

I know I’m probably rambling now, but the world is never quite so clear to me as when she’s with me. Nothing else really seems to matter. She is real life. A lot of the self-important opinions on the web, not so much (yes, the people behind them are real, but there’s something about virtual communication and inhibits their – and my – reality in terms of interactions).

I worry about my grandchildren. The world’s quite a bit more messed up than when I was a kid. I was my granddaughter’s age in 1957 and my grandson’s age in 1963. As you can imagine, things are really different now, and not in too many good ways.

By the time they grow up, what will the world be like for them? Will there even be a livable world by the time they get to my age? I don’t have the answers to those questions, so I think I’ll just concentrate on trying to be the best Grandpa I can be to them in the here and now.

And now for something completely different. This $5.00 t-shirt just arrived in the mail. Pretty cool, huh?

mos eisley

Mos Eisley t-shirt from United Perks – Photo credit James Pyles

I was going to write this anyway, but I try not to waste a good writing prompt, so I accepted the Saturday Mix – Opposing Forces challenge hosted at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie. The idea today is to take two sets of words, the words in each pair being the antithesis of the other, and to use them in a poem, short story, or other creative work. Those words are bolded above.

Mainly though, I just wanted to combat the general panic attacks on the internet over various politicians and social justice causes and say that while those topics can be important, they’ll never be more important to me than my grandchildren. If you don’t have those sorts of connections in your life, you’re missing out.

Oh, I promised my son I wouldn’t put any photos of his children online that showed their faces, so I posted one of my grandson holding up a stuffed animal.

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