Making Some Memories

May 19, 2011 | My Jottings

Now that all seven of my grandchildren live within two miles of us, W.W.G., Wednesdays With Grandma, has changed. Chris and Sharon’s three children would like their turns at W.W.G. too, so out of my desire to be fair to all, I have them each over by themselves, for at least two nights. Having the grandbabes spend only one night made the time fly by and seem slightly hurried, and I want more relaxed, meaningful times with them. Not that W.W.G. wasn’t meaningful before, but now they all know that when it’s their turn, they get to have a mini-vacation at Grandpa and Grandma’s, even in the middle of the school week. Unfortunately this also means that it takes at least seven weeks before it’s someone’s turn again, but for right now this is what seems to work best.

Day One

Last week we had Mr. McBoy over. His daddy brought him to our house after school on Wednesday, and he ran into the kitchen with arms outstretched, ready for a long hug with Grandma. What a loving boy he is. McBoy is almost nine years old and has grown so big everyone keeps talking about it. He wears a men’s size nine shoe. He wears teen-sized clothes. We think all this might have something to do with the fact that his daddy is 6′ 4″ and his mama is 6′ 1″, but we can’t be certain.

The first afternoon McBoy was here, he and I made cookies. Later that night we were having a little family get-together to celebrate his mama’s birthday, and since cake is not her favorite, we did Reese’s cookies and slightly underbaked brownies. Sharon likes rich, fudgy brownies, and if they’re taken out of the oven a couple of minutes early, they’re almost like a ganache on the inside.

After we sang to Sharon and she opened her gifts, it was bedtime, so I asked McBoy if he wanted to sleep in the guest room on one of the two phenomenally comfortable beds, or if he wanted to sleep on a pallet of blankets on the floor of Grandpa and Grandma’s room. He chose the latter, so while he was brushing his teeth and choosing a book, I got his pallet ready. I asked him where he’s going to sleep when he’s married and comes to visit Grandpa and Grandma with his wife, and he said he would still prefer a pallet on our bedroom floor when he’s a grown man. I didn’t tell him his wife would probably object to that, because I didn’t want to finish a nice day on a sorrowful note.

Mr. McBoy wanted to lay in bed beside us while he and I quietly read, and after a few minutes when it was pallet-time, we played The Love Game. The Love Game is a nice quiet game to play right before you close your eyes for sleep at night. The rules are that you each say three things you love about the other person, taking turns. I actually think this would be a good game for married couples who have grown accustomed to each other, or even tired of one another. It would do no person any harm to hear their spouse say three nice things about them.

I went first. I told McBoy that one of the things I loved most about him is how he’s a good listener and conversationalist with the gals we care for. He greets them cheerfully when he sees them, asks them how their days were and actually listens to them, and treats them with respect and genuine interest. I told him this trait would take him far in life and that I absolutely love this about him. He blushed and smiled shyly as he listened, and I prayed that the memories we were making would stick in his heart his whole life.

Next it was his turn. He told me that one thing he loved about me was how when he comes over to our house, we read together at the end of the day. He reads his book and I read mine, and we like each other’s company. He said, “Grandma, when you’re reading your book and I’m in my pallet reading mine, that’s very comforting to me.” I almost had to stifle a sob when he said that. I told him I felt the same and thanked him for what he said, then went on to tell him the second thing I love about him. I said that whenever he’s introduced to someone new, even though he’s a child, he looks them in the eye and politely says hello and acts happy to meet them. He doesn’t act uncomfortable or goofy or suddenly shy, and I told him he was developing good people skills at a young age and I appreciated that about him. He smiled and nodded. Then it was his turn to say the second thing he loved about me. He said, “The second thing I love about you is….. ummm… well…. I like that you’re… uhhh…” and after a half a minute of hemming and hawing I asked, “Are you having a hard time coming up with another thing?” And he nodded, a little relieved. “That’s okay — the first thing you said meant so much to me, you don’t have to think of two more things.” And even though I was giggling inside, I meant it.

The third thing I mentioned about McBoy was that I love what a good sport he is. We play Farkle at our house when grandkids come over, and I’m a stickler about them learning to be good losers. When I begin to lose and see the scores of others climb, I clap my hands for them and high five them as they pull ahead, always showing them how glad I am for their win. I expect the same from them, and it’s hard for some of them still. That’s understandable, but neverthelesss I’m adamant about it. When we play a game there are two rules: no cheating tolerated, and good sportsmanship required. I tell the kids it’s okay if they don’t feel happy on the inside about someone else winning, but it’s still important to show graciousness and goodwill on the outside. I think Mr. McBoy has learned this well, and I told him how proud I am about it. When we play Farkle and someone else wins, I can see him shift inwardly and make that choice, and say, “Good roll Grandpa! I think you’re going to be the winner!” I told McBoy that if he was humble and gracious about things not going his way, and sincerely glad and well-wishing for others who were winning, it would be a trait that would bless his whole life. I told him it would help him in his family, in his work, in his friendships and anything else he tried. I told him how much I loved this in him and that I admired him for it. Then I prayed for him as I covered him, that Jesus would give him good sleep and dreams, and that He would draw Mr. McBoy to Himself all the days of His life.

Day Two

In the mornings we buzz around getting medications and breakfasts and lunches ready for everyone, and McBoy came to the table cheerful and with sproingy hair that made him look like an exotic bird. I demonstrated how I thought an exotic bird sounded, then of course aimed a spray bottle at his head right away and brushed that plumage down.

He asked for scrambled eggs, two pieces of toast, an orange and a glass of milk for breakfast. We went over his spelling words for a short time and then he brushed his teeth at the kitchen sink. I made his lunch while he put on his jacket and shoes and made sure his books and papers were in his backpack. He was especially happy because he knew he’d be returning that afternoon after school, for one more night at Grandpa and Grandma’s house.

I drove him to school in my plaid flannel nightgown, and as I steered I reached my left hand back on the side of my seat, and from the back seat he put his hand in mine. We held hands for a few seconds as we drove, and listened to the Radio Theatre production of Anne of Green Gables. If you aren’t familiar with the many Radio Theatre offerings, click here and you can hear some samples of Anne. My grandkids (and my husband and I) love anything done by the Focus Radio Theatre.

When we pulled up in front of his elementary school I turned and said the same thing I always tell my beloved grandchildren. “I love you! Have a wonderful day. Remember, even though you may not be able to see Him, Jesus is right there with you, and He will help you when you ask Him!” Mr. McBoy smiled at me, squeezed my hand and said, “I will, Grandma. I love you! See you later today!” He even turned and waved to me when he got to the door of the school.

I waited for a break in the lines of cars and buses weaving in and out from the parking area, then pulled into the traffic and headed home, wiping tears. I prayed that these little memories we’re making will be Velcro memories and not Teflon memories. I want them to stick to the hearts, minds and souls of my grandchildren and make a difference in their lives someday.

Around 2:45 on Thursday, Mr. McBoy’s daddy brought him back to our house and he had another hug for me and a smile, because he knew we had three fun things planned. I promised we’d go shopping for some new jeans and a pair of dress shoes, we’d visit Dairy Queen for the treat of his choice, and we’d feed the ducks and geese at the cemetery on the way home.

The geese and ducks weren’t as hungry as they usually are, maybe because it was getting close to their bedtime, and there were other people feeding them when we got there. Mr. McBoy got out of the car and threw pieces of bread to the Canada geese and the Mallard ducks, aiming for the water right in front of them. The dozens of aggressive seagulls were always one swoop away from snatching the bread from the geese and ducks, and it became an aim of McBoy’s to avoid the greedy ones and to feed the patient ones. After the bag of bread was empty we headed home. I had dinner to prepare and McBoy had math homework (he’s a whiz with numbers) and a spelling test the next day to study for. We worked on the spelling together and devised strategies for helping him remember how to spell uninteresting and rewrite and supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Well, maybe not those three, but close.

After dinner we went upstairs and McBoy took a tubby in our huge bathtub. I have no idea where I got the term “took a tubby” — it wasn’t something I heard growing up. But all my grandkids like to play with toys amidst the mountains of LOC bubbles in that deep tub and they love it when I turn on the jets so the bubble mountains build up higher than their shoulders. I have this OCD thing I do when any of the kids are in the tub. I usually sit in there with the little ones and read to them. But the older ones like to play with the plastic canoes and watering cans and dog-chewed dinosaurs, and I often sit in a comfy bedroom chair to read or knit. I must call out to them every minute or two, “Are you okay?” and they know they have to answer right away, “I’m okay!” If they don’t answer, I go tearing into the bathroom with my heart in my throat and when I find them distracted and sculpting with the bubbles I chide, “You need to answer Grandma! I don’t want you to drown!”

Just another smear of grease on the slippery slope to becoming my mother. There’s really no use fighting it.

On Thursday night after Mr. McBoy got into his jammies and chose a book to read on the pallet, we turned on some soft music from a CD I love called Emerald Forest. Then we did what I do with all of my grandbabies at the end of any time we’ve spent together — we listed out loud all the things we’ve done during their visit. Even simple things. Mr. McBoy might say, “Well, we worked on my homework and you helped me remember that the way to remember how to spell unfair was that it had the word air in it.” And then I might say, “And we went to the cemetery and fed the ducks. Remember how shiny green the Mallard’s head was?” And then he might say, “And we made cookies for Mom and we shared one of the balls of cookie dough.” And then I might say, “And we listened to Anne of Green Gables and you could tell right away that Rachel Lynde was the town gossip.” And then he might smile and said, “And we played Farkle. And the Love Game.”

And so on.

In less than five minutes, Mr. McBoy was sound asleep, breathing heavily and looking like a very large blonde cherub wrapped up in blankets on our bedroom floor. I was overwhelmed with love for him and couldn’t help the tears that welled and the heart prayers that went up, asking God to watch him and keep him and bless him and his family.

Velcro….not Teflon

Making memories, and trying to get them to stick. Reveling in the ordinary, and endeavoring to help my grandchildren see how precious the ordinary can be. Telling them over and over that God made them with His very own hands, and chose our family to place them in…how incredibly blessed we are that He loved us so much to give these children to our family! I could fall down on my knees before Him this very minute for just that.

I wrote here about how my grandmother never really showed me a lot of love when I was growing up. She thought I was a bit spoiled and well on my way to being a brat, which was probably true. But that was all the more reason for her to work at showing she cared, if you ask me. I know she loved me, but I don’t have an abundance of memories of affection or encouragement or prayers or outings with her. She never asked me to spend the night at her house, even though we lived in the same Southern California city.

I want my grandchildren to have so many memories of my love for them they can’t keep them straight.

I am not the perfect grandma. I have had to ask their forgiveness when I’ve been cranky and bossy. I’m only human.

But I want to make some wonderful, enduring memories with these beautiful grandchildren if it’s the last thing I do. In fact, I hope someday when my time has come to depart this earth, making a memory with my seven sweethearts is the last thing God allows me to do.


  1. Sharon says:

    Thank you for being such a wonderful grandma. The kids love you so much.

  2. Just Julie says:


  3. Jessica says:

    Apparently I am on my way to becoming your mother also. I have the same bath-time OCD situation (among many others).

  4. Just Julie says:

    I knew there was something extra special about you I liked, Mom, oops, Jessica! 🙂

  5. Tauni says:

    Thanks Julie for sharing some of the most precious memories you are creating in your home. I too am working on this. We were blessed to have Benjamin spend the night with us last weekend for both Friday and Saturday night. We are trying to work him up to being able to be with us for about a week when his sister, Emma, is born. What a blast we had, it rained for a good part of the time, but we had fun none-the-less. Every time his mom called and I asked him if he wanted to talk with her, he said, “no thank you.” Shannon’s response was, “oh, I am so glad!” For her, she knew it meant he felt safe and was happy being with us. He knew they would be home soon and he was enjoying Nana and Paca. There were no melt downs to deal with either.

    I was very blessed to have my grandparents very involved in my life ~ trust and believe, your grandchildren will remember and will be immeasurably blessed as well! Much love to you dear friend ~

  6. Just Julie says:

    I wish we lived closer so we could have Grandma/Nana playdates with our grandkids, Tauni. Thank you for sharing about Ben’s time with you and Curt, and also for your encouragement. LY.

  7. Ganeida says:

    Heaps important. I know Liddy has worked hard to make heaps of memories for all of us ~ & she is focusing on Star very much now. That girl is really going to miss liddy when she goes. well done, Grandama!

  8. Just Julie says:

    Thank you, friend.

  9. Dorothy Sooter says:

    Julie, that was a beautiful read. I know a lot of grandmothers and feel I am okay but you and my niece Linda are spectacular. It is obvious that they all adore you – being a grandmother is definitely such a blessing. Give them all my love.

  10. Just Julie says:

    I have to disagree with you Dorothy. I could name some people who considered you one of the very best Grandmas ever. LY.

  11. Larry says:

    YOU SAID “I drove him to school in my plaid flannel nightgown, and as I steered I reached my left hand back on the side of my seat”, SURE GLAD YOU DID NOT HAVE TO STOP FOR ANY REASON OR GET INTO AN ACIDENT OR WAS STOPPED BY A COP. YOUR FLANNEL’S WOULD HAVE BEEN HARD TO EXPLAIN EXPECIALLY IF IT WAS A NIGHTGOWN 🙂

  12. Just Julie says:

    You always make me laugh, Lar. Yes, I always take a chance when I drive them to school in my nightgown. :O

  13. Christy says:

    Oh my gosh…..!!!! Driving to school in your flannel nightgown !! I am 63 years old and one of my most vivid memories is of my best friends mother having a flat tire in front of the school when she dropped her daughter Colleen off just as the school bus pulled up. This mother was in her nightgown and pink fuzzy slippers and I don’t think her hair was combed. Every single kid in the school saw this and I dare say I am not the only one who learned from this……I beleive I was 10. When I am tempted to drive a short distance without a particular undergarment……or in my slippers…..I always think of my friends mother and how she never expected to be the center of attention that morning. You are a brave and daring woman, Julie B. But then again, aren’t you the one who wore your nightie TO the hospital…..not IN the hospital ?

  14. Just Julie says:

    This has set the fear of God in me, Christy. From now on, when I drive a grandchild to school in my nightgown, I will be sure to bring my cell phone. That way if I have a flat tire in front of the school, I can call someone to come and change it for me and not have to get out of the car. 🙂

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