Sunday, July 20, 2008


One of my grandsons is rapidly growing from toddler to little boy with all the interests of a boy. He has a small plastic turtle which he cherishes. And picture books including turtles. Turtle was one of his first words.

Recently he touched a real tortoise. This land relative of turtles was munching grass on a neighbor's lawn when my grandson and his mother, together with friends, discovered him. (See the little guy in the blue hat.) The lady who keeps the tortoise as a pet came outside to talk.

"He's only eighteen years old. They grow a lot bigger," she said. "He lives on grass so I let him out to munch on my lawn. Tortoises don't drink water. They get enough water from the grass."

My grandson was finding out how his shell felt.

Nicole McKensie has written an e-book about raising children. Her title MOM HAS TO HAVE FUN seems fullfilled in this picture where my daughter-in-law in enjoying the tortoise as much as the kids--or perhaps enjoying the kids' response to the tortoise. For a variety of ideas on how to help children, click here:

McKensie feels that daily life with the questions children can raise, the conflicts they can get into, and the efforts they make to grow themselves up, should be fun for the parents. My sons and their wives enjoy children. They don't need much guidance yet, but if they did, I would recommend McKensie. In her video presentation, she smiles a lot. She has fun not only raising six children but writing and presenting this book.

I worked as nanny to a one-year-old. There was a Walgreens Store going up two blocks away. We went daily to see how the building was progressing and how the parking lot was being prepared. Backhoes, cement trucks, men shoveling cement and men leveling cement. He would watch by the hour.

When my children were in grade school they had a rare opportunity to watch a backhoe at work. In fact, they had a grandstand seat from our porch, from which they could see the city sewer line put in. Piles of dirt everywhere. Men shouting. The teeth of the big yellow backhoe's shovel biting into our lawn. It was too good to miss. I excused them from school that day. They learned more at home!

But you don't have to wait for adventures to come into your yard--or for a tortoise to walk across your neighbor's lawn. Children want to know what goes on in the area where they live. And here's where I write more from regret than from what I actually did. If I had their childhood to live again I would make appointments with an official at the fire station and give the kids a tour. I would take them to places where people work in ways that they could see and appreciate. When we went out for pizza, I would strike up a conversation with the man behind the counter rotating the circle of dough, let him talk about how he learned to do that! I would take them to visit with the mayor. Help them talk with a lifeguard at the beach about her job.

Probably I was too busy, too tired from working one full time job out of the house and another at home! Still. On those occasions when we went camping in the Catskills or spent a summer evening watching a minor league baseball game at Damaske Field--where we ate tofu pups we brought and ice cream treats we bought, saw the Franklin Mountain rise in the south and the sun set in the west--they went to bed spent and satisfied.

Till the next post. Swamp Walking Woman

No comments: