I drive my 14-year-old twin granddaughters to school most mornings. They sit in the back seat. It’s a 10-minute ride—just enough time for chats about growing up, the travails of adolescence, how life was for me when I was their age.
I say something. And wait for a reply. Nothing.
I glance in the rearview mirror. Each sports earbuds.
I could admonish them. But I don’t. I activate my classical playlist.
We ride on, snug in our bubbles.
Here we are.
“Thanks, Grandy. I love you.”
I love you too. Have a great and wonderful day.
So we didn’t chat. Or didn’t for the first couple weeks.
I’d drive home, brooding, thinking: Yesterday they were five. Today they’re fourteen. Tomorrow they’ll be in college.
I went to college. I majored in philosophy. I’ve forgotten nearly everything except one belated lesson.
A year out of college I called Dr. Arthur Holmes, chair of the philosophy department, to express my appreciation for his lectures and guidance. He was grateful.
And then I confessed that I had wasted a lot of time and golden opportunities. I was sorry.
I was hoping for exoneration. “I thought you did quite well, above average actually.” Instead, he said: “Well, you know, there’s no time like the present.”
Really? That’s all I get from the wisest man I ever knew? A cliché?
I wasn’t exonerated. I was deflated.
For years I’ve been reading “This Day in History.” Each dispatch presents 8-10 brief stories. I’m filling gaps in my knowledge. What for? Just for me?
And then I remember: There’s no time like the present.
A few weeks ago the girls hopped in the car and before they could pop buds into their ears, I said: What do you know about Helen Keller?
They knew a little. I knew more.
Would you like to know what she turned out to be?
(They do love to learn.)
And now they know Keller became an advocate of women’s suffrage, a pacifist, and a socialist.
The next day: What do you know about Albert Einstein?
They knew a little. I knew more.
Would you like to know what he turned out to be?
And now they know that Einstein opposed nuclear weapons.
What do you know about the Ides of March, Armistad, the Alamo, Selma, James Rumsey, Barbie Doll?
The ride has become a journey.
See Paula’s “Peaches & Daffodils” on the home page. Posted March 26, 2023
A few years ago when three of my grandkids were 12, 14, and 16, Dave and I asked them all kinds of questions to engage them. They dutifully replied. Then we said, “Okay, now it’s your turn to ask us some questions.”
They all have big eyes, which quickly got much bigger. Huge. I could imagine their brains trying to process this ringer. WTF! And then, as you said– Silence.
But yesterday when they were here, the oldest–now a freshman at UMD College Park–finally asked me question. Could he look at my “library” and borrow some books of poetry? He went home with two: one by T. S. Eliot and one by Lawrence Ferlinghetti (YES!).
Would like to know a bit about them, I asked. Yes, he said.
He also took some books on ethics. He’s majoring in philosophy, political science, and economics.
My grandkids have not been brought up in the church. They and their parents are not religious. But they and so many young people today give me hope, and I have a lot of faith in them. Their eyes are wide open.
What a marvelous little story! A mere ride became a meaningful journey. Rabbi Sidney Greenberg’s words remind me of Arthur Holmes’ wisdom as well: “Life is a journey, not a destination. Happiness is not ‘there’, but here, not ‘tomorrow’, but today.” Let us make the most of it with gratitude!
Wise Grandpa. Fortunate Grandkids. Sweet connection to bigger world.
Such a wise & wonderful way to engage your fortunate granddaughters – in the moment – reminds me of my father, when growing up… he always added his vast knowledge of so many things we studied in school…& made learning fun, interesting – a lifelong gift to me!
Thank you & all for sharing…no time like the present (a gift)!
Keep teaching, Doc! Always keep teaching. Besides, I know you can’t help yourself. All of us who know you are lucky that you can’t. Shine on!
Grandy! What a perfect moniker for Grandpa Randy. This story was a great start to the Sunday. Thanks, Grandy
With your wonderful granddaughters, you have created more than a unique library of knowledge. You have created a journey of Love in which you have just begun to stretch the boundaries of deep “knowing.” I’d “Grandy-father” you in anywhere!
Some years back I was in the car with my 14 year old son, both of us in our usual silent modes (lots going on inside-nothing being shared). At some point I decided it was time for change. “Eric,” I said, my father and I never really communicated, and I don’t want that for us. So let’s you and I begin sharing our thoughts.” After several moments of silence, Eric said, “Ok dad, what did you want to talk about?” Hadn’t thought that far ahead—“Oh nothing right now, maybe later.”
I like that.
My friend is mentoring a young man in his teens- very intelligent. They come once a week to help with design and build projects. Our young man is treated as an equal in the ideation process and his only limitation is experience. His conceptual grasp is excellent and the three of us together can really bring a concept to clarity.
Elderly man, prime man, young teen. I’m positive it works for women as well because we’ve raised three grown daughters and one son the same way, and they were always included in our work. Just like a farm family.
This is what faith looks like. How to witness, how to prophesy, how to reach out. But it take patience, love, and engagement. Or also requires a bit of discernment as to the time and the seasons.
Just show a bit of humility and a lot of open prayer
You have already had so many wonderful comments. I love reading them along with your posts. Our son turned 30 last year October. I will be 70 this April. Interesting difference in years. But what a blessed time we have had. We have “asked” him to adapt so many times and he has beautifully. He traveled all over with me and his grandmother from 4 months on. Attended schools in DC WV and then NY as we moved about. He is comfortable with people all over and in all age groups. We always read to him. We had dinners together. We are proud of this accepting human. And you know what? He has started to read again ( after high school and college )of his own volition. yes. Plant the seed. It will grow.
This is an inspiring story. Before they put their earplugs in…Brilliant! …
What do you know about the A minor scale? Well, maybe that wouldn’t work…