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  • Writer's pictureJayna Newbold

"Grandma" Is a Verb

Dear Hearts,

I am happy to see that many of you are getting out there again, traveling to far off places, taking much anticipated vacations after a long hiatus of remaining at home.

Yours Truly just returned from a lovely trip to Alaska where I fulfilled a long-awaited bucket list activity that is dog sledding across a glacier the size of Rhode Island. I did nothing but hold on while my team of ten beautiful Huskies did all the work and had just as much or more fun as I did romping through the snow atop 100 feet thick ice across the Tundra. Absolutely magnificent animals!

It was a long travel day to get to Alaska from my beloved Bay Area in California. Two 2-hour flights plus quite the l-o-n-g layover in Seattle equaled a twelve plus hour game of "hurry up and wait". No complaints, though. All passengers and crews were friendly and patient.

So much so that after I was settled in my aisle seat over the wing, and noticed a darling young family of four boarding the plane, I found myself delighted to know they were seated directly behind me; actually, the mom was behind me on the aisle with the dad positioned between their two young children -- a little boy, the age of six, and his five year old sister -- across the aisle from her.

The boy (I'll call him Harry -- not his real name) was a chatterbox; filled with question after question about the plane and, especially, the rules.

"Why is that a rule, Daddy?"

Before his father could take a breath, out came another one. "Why do they even have rules?" As the dad shuffled their carry-on tote filled with snacks, coloring books, etc., he managed to deliver a brilliant answer: "I don't know, Harry. No one consulted me about them." The little girl (I'll call her Megan) asked her dad for her iPad -- to which he explained she could have it a little later . . ."when we're flying."

On and on, Harry babbled. Oh, my Dear Hearts!: I found his opinions and continuous queries music to my ears. I love the "question" stage of childhood. It is never annoying; although exhausting sometimes, I thoroughly enjoy their inquisitiveness.

The parents already appeared travel-weary when the family boarded, but were beautifully patient with their animated children. At one point, when the plane quickly gained altitude, the mother calmly dealt with her young daughter who exclaimed, "My ears are stuck! Help, help."

Once the plane reached its top flight destination and the fuselage leveled out, the dad handed Megan her iPad.

"When do I fly?" she asked.

The father responded, "We are flying. You can play your games now."

Puzzled, Megan persisted and it became evident that the little girl had been under the impression all along that she would literally get to fly.

In an effort to help his sister understand, Harry quipped, "We're on the air!"

I chuckled at his response, but thought to myself, He's not wrong.

It was when we landed, and the now fully fatigued parents made their way to the aisle to retrieve belongings from the overhead compartments, that Harry spied me.

"Are you a Grandma?" he queried while patiently waiting for the line of passengers to move forward.

"Yes, I am," I answered cheerily.

By now, little Megan had turned off her iPad and made an effort to be part of the conversation.

"Where are your kids?" she chimed.

I explained that they were at home with their parents.

Harry needed proof. "How can you 'Grandma' without kids?"

I loved his use of the word, Grandma, in this way. I had never thought of it as a verb before. But when you think about it, a grandmother does invoke action. We do things: babysit, bake cookies, build gingerbread houses, enjoy a variety of activities with our grands, attend their programs and sporting events, play games, hopscotch, ride scooters and bikes, watch cartoons, etc. And we love it . . . because, well . . after all, .#grandkidscandonowrong

Megan piped up, "I know! We can be your kids!"

I laughed out loud, then chortled, "That sounds like fun. It really does. But I doubt your parents would allow you to come with me." It was Harry's turn. "Yes they would! They let us go with our grandma all the time!" Now, the father joined the fun. Flashing a half smile at his wife, and with a shrug of the shoulders, he commented, "I don't know . . .she seems nice enough."

His drained partner side-eyed her husband. "Don't tempt me," she declared with a dry tone of voice.

Eventually the line in the aisle moved and all passengers disembarked as quickly as they could.

As Harry and Megan waved goodbye to me on their way through the corridor leading to the terminal, the following phrase washed over my psyche: "To 'Grandma' or not to 'Grandma' ?"

Dear Hearts: There is no question.

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