Thursday, December 24, 2009

For the Children

"Nana, how old will you be when I'm 52?

My seven-year-old grandson is starting to ask the big questions. After a litany of similar questions, right up until he asked how old his Nana would be when he turned 99, there was silence in the car. That might be due to my answer that I would be long gone by that time. Rather than let him dwell on my ultimate demise, I turned the conversation into a learning experience. We began to figure out the life spans of a variety of animals including dogs, cats, parrots, elephants, and tortoises. When he heard that some tortoises can live over one hundred years, he said he wishes he were one.

I love this questioning phase of childhood, when no question is off-limits. There are so many things that are old hat for me as an adult and so many things our boy is just starting to discover.

The problem is, as he matures and processes the world around him, his exposure to things both fascinating and frightening is part of the deal.

I sometimes wish I could shield him, just as I felt when I was raising his mother and his aunt, but I know the impossibility and perhaps the harm in doing so. The best I can do is to provide him a safe haven that he can count on when he is confronted with those moments in life that cause him fear, pain, confusion, and worry. Just like I did with my daughters, I can only hope it is enough.

On the day of Aiden’s birth I purchased a book of blank pages. Before I even met him, knowing only his full name, I began to tell him about himself, his family, the world he had been brought into. I update the book on occasion, sparing little detail so that when he is old enough to read and comprehend he will know just how he arrived at the place he presently finds himself. I hand the book to others in his life so they, too, can share their thoughts, feelings, and impressions as they relate to him. Aiden himself has entered into his book, adding drawings and stickers. When I showed him his book on a recent visit he exclaimed, “My book!” As he flipped through the pages seeing artwork from his younger self he said, “My brain is going crazy!”

I have two more grandchildren due this spring. I need to go out and find the perfect book of blank pages for each of them. When they are each 99-years-old and my own mortal body is long gone, I hope they will turn to the one thing of me that remains: my words and the documentation of their lives as I witnessed it.


L.T. Elliot said...

What an amazing thing to do. I love that blank notebook and that you fill it with the life of your grandson. What a gift he'll treasure.
I feel the same way about honesty and kids. I'll do the best to create the sanctuary and someone who will always listen and be there.

Happy Holidays!

Gaia said...

You are so thoughtful, this is such a beautiful gift for your family. I like the idea so much, I might just borrow/steal the idea!

Here's wishing you happy holidays filled love,peace and joy.

Hugs and blessings

Jack Matthews said...

What a delight it is for your grandchild to see those memories. Happy Holidays!

Sniffles and Smiles said...

What an absolutely fabulous idea!!!! I'm going to remember this one!!!! Hope you had a wonderful Christmas, and were able to share it with Aiden!!! Have a very Happy New Year!!! All the best to you and yours, Janine XO

Ribbon said...

I love this....
I too have a special book, but for my son and reading your post this evening has reminded me that it has been a while since I last wrote in it and I'm now going to get off this computer and do just that.
thank you
and all the best wishes for the year ahead..
x Ribbon

Joanna Jenkins said...

What a fantastic idea for your grandchild! My first great-niece or nephew will be born in June. I think I might try making a journal for him/her too. Thanks for sharing.

This is a lovely post.

Happy New Year Lisa

Vegas Linda Lou said...

Beautiful post! I've thought of creating a blog of family stories for my 11-year-old grandson. This is making me more motivated to do that.

Shana said...

What a beautiful idea! I have a two-year-old granddaughter... now I need to find a book!