As Monday, Columbus Day, was a no-school day, I grabbed the opportunity to pick up my first-grade grandson Jakie from his suburban home and bring him to New York City for 24 hours.
Until my daughter and her family moved away a year ago, Jakie would spend an afternoon with me every weekend, with an occasional midweek visit or a full weekend. Out list of activities was long, and he would choose several of them for each visit.
Those of you who have seen the delight on a child's face know that this is all the reward a grandma needs in order to invest energy and long hours in a child. This past spring, I decided that Jakie should learn to climb trees and rocks. We spent a long afternoon in Central Park, climbing every boulder we passed and any tree whose lower limbs had been spared by the gardeners. A couple of times at the top of a rock, we would come across some sunbathers who would then converse with him. When Jakie heard for the second time "your mother" and corrected the person, he turned to me and asked, "Why does everyone think you are my mother?" "Because grandmothers don't climb rocks," I replied. Actually, few mothers do.
I know that only many years from now Jakie will appreciate how unusual this experience has been. Climbing rocks is part of my investment in his future.
On this visit, as soon as my husband and I picked Jakie up on Sunday afternoon, we passed by an amusement park. We stopped and took a couple of rides. With some prodding, for the first time, Jakie was able to overcome his fear and go up with my husband on the Ferris wheel. Back home, he first wanted to make with me French crepes and was in charge of measuring flour, cracking the eggs and mixing the cinnamon and sugar. His tummy filled, he wanted to go to his favorite "train" playground, and when evening came, to the playroom in my building, filled with other children.
Back upstairs, he asked to go over the children's stories he and I had written on my computer, complete with photographs and artwork. Then there was dinner, a bath in our oversized tub, and story time as he lay on his favorite Cars pillow in the bedroom he calls his.
In the morning, my husband took Jakie to swim in the building's pool, and upon their return, we all headed to Central Park .
Chasing squirrels and climbing rocks on our way from the West side to the East side, we heard distant music and realized that Columbus Day parade was streaming past on Fifth Avenue. Enthralled, sitting on Papa's shoulders, Jakie got his first taste of marching bands, costumed horses and antique cars. But we had to leave the parade to head back to lunch and then to the planned movie, Toy Story in 3-D.
The afternoon ended fast as it was time for me to deliver Jakie to his mother's midtown office so she could take him home.
Packing his stuff, I chattered as I listed all the events and experiences, trying to imprint them in his memory. "What's the best part of your visit?" I asked.
"Going to Mommy's office," he replied.
That's it? I hope that when he grows up he will remember more than going to his Mommy's office.