Growing up to help

I blinked and did a double take last fall when I saw Elijah, then 13. In the few weeks since our previous visit, our chubby grandson had stretched up into a tall, thin teenager. I barely recognized him with his new haircut and body.

“Wow! have you measured yourself lately? You have shot up!” I said. We looked at the hash marks on the door frame. He was definitely inches above the last one. In the year since then, he has continued to grow. I watched this child enter the world 14 years ago; now I see him entering adulthood.

“Eli, come here and help. You need to grab hold of that side and lift,” his mom said pointing to the end of a heavy couch. The lanky teenager ambled over and lifted. No sweat, not even a grunt from the former “little boy,” reaching his arms up for comfort when he fell down.

The toddler who wanted to ‘help’ now does so easily: whether he is watching his little sister, doing the heavy lifting or doing the laundry.

One of his not-so-little sisters, Daisy, also switched this year. As a toddler, she stuck her foot out and said, “tie my shoes, please.” I bent down, tied and double knotted. She ran off to play. This year, after a partial hip replacement, the instructions included, “do not bend to tie your shoes.” Turn-about is fair play. During a visit, I motioned Daisy over to me one morning, “Come, tie my sneakers, please.” She came over, bent down and proceeded to tighten the strings, tie a bow and double knot.

“Oh that’s okay, I don’t need a double knot. Thank you.” I won’t be running anywhere.

Having the younger generation insures plenty of helpers during busy times. My son Nate moved his family this summer. We arrived in time to help them move out of the apartment into the new house. Looking at his 80 year old father, Nate refused to let him carry boxes on the stairs. Instead, he turned around to his 12 year-old daughter Sophie and said, “Grab that end and help.”

She grinned and grabbed hold.

Where did the once-helpless infant go? No squabbling, no huffing and puffing. She enjoyed being treated as one of the adults, capable of pitching in and doing her part in the “adults only” moving event. I watched amazed. She had become strong enough to lift and move the furniture and carry the heavy boxes.

I should have known the transition time had come. During Cousin Camp at Grandma’s in June, she and the other granddaughters closed the door to my sewing room and took over. After the one time I showed them how to thread the machine, they proceeded to do it themselves the rest of the time. For two days they chopped fabric, mixed up thread and emerged with machine-stitched creations – with no help from me.

Even the youngest, little Katie, surprised me last week. She sat in my lap to use a real sewing machine. I stopped to re-thread the machine with a different color. I showed her where to put the thread through the tension, the uptake bar and thread guides down to the needle. I tried and tried to thread the needle. “It’s hard sometimes,” I said.

She looked at the needle and turned to me, “let me.”

She astonished me and quickly threaded the needle a couple times.

“I need to take you to thread my needles,” I said.

I once helped them, now they help me and their parents as our roles reverse. And that is just how it should be.


About jottingjoan

retired former newspaper writer. Many children and grandchildren. One husband.
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