I talk a lot about family because I believe it is one of the greatest gifts we have and the greatest opportunity to see the world become a better place. (I get that it has the ability to be painful from time to time, as my own beginnings had some challenges. ? But, I believe, by choice, we can turn those things around. This was a birthday week,
This past week, I had my grandson, Jacob, visiting with me. I love having him here. He wanted to spend the bulk of his school vacation with my wife and me. I picked him up on Sunday afternoon. We loaded his bike and his “stuff,” and away we went!
Like many, Jacob’s early years could be considered challenging. The story of how he and his mom and siblings are amazing. Coming to live with me, we have been tight over the years. Like many children, his dad has not been part of his life. And I had the pleasure of being there for him.
Last week was his birthday week, so I scheduled a lot of things to do. When he arrived, I had all the fixings for pork tacos, one of his favorites.
I knew his first morning he would sleep in (When Jacob is here, we have a 10 PM bedtime. He needs sleep, and so do I! ), but we agreed that he would be up by 10 and do coffee together. He was up, and we hit the coffee shop. Right after, I headed over to my friend’s store, Ted’s Shoe and Sports, and got him some great new sneakers. (They do call them that, right?) We then went over to Puggy’s to check out all the latest old pieces! (Antiques. One of Jacob’s favorite places to go. We often go there to get pieces for our video channel we do.) We then went over to see that my friend, Luca, had reopened his restaurant after being closed for a few days. By then, it was noontime, and we went home, grabbed some lunch, and went out to hit some of the places he wanted to go. The afternoon was a blur! Mr. G’s, ALDIS, Hannafords, Advanced Auto, Toy City, the car wash, and the bank. A busy day, but to be able to hang out, you must clear the decks! ?
We kicked back the rest of the day.
One of the things I have learned about being on vacation, if it is so busy with “things,” it is easy to need another vacation for vacation. When I have Jacob on his vacation, I make plans that get in all the things he wants to do but are “easy” on the week. One of the things I have found is it is easy to try and do everything, so when he arrived, I had printed out a calendar and a list of things he wanted to do and put them out there for him.
Tuesday, I had a lot going on so we could travel to Lake George for his birthday, so he spent a lot of quiet time and some bike riding. On Tuesday night, he was excited about going away the next day. I had told him we were leaving at 10 the next morning.
Quiet time. It is not always something you can encourage a teen to consider. (Right up there with naps!) Fortunately, Jacob has learned the value of those quiet moments. Even when we drive to be somewhere, he is quiet, pensive about what is going on.
Wednesday comes, and he is all ready to roll. Tina, Jacob, and I headed out to Lake George, one of our favorite places to visit. The drive-over was beautiful. (Having to pick a day weeks in advance and hope it does not rain or snow is tough. It snowed just a day later!) Sunny and in the high 60s. We were at Lake George in a few hours. We decided to look for a place to eat. Unfortunately, we could not find anything like we were looking for on a Wednesday before the season opened. We decided to head a little south. (Our other two choices were closed as well.) Finally, we decided on a place for burgers. The food was good, but despite Jacob and I ordering medium-rare, they came back and told us they only do “well done,” so that was disappointing, but other than that, it was good. Deck dining, food, and family.
We headed back to the lake and found that it had RAINED, but the sun was out. Jacob and I walked down along the boardwalk and then up on the main street. Jacob and I spent our time talking about life, cars, and everything.
We left a few hours later and headed home.
It was a wonderful day. I work hard to make my grandchildren’s birthdays an event when I can. One of the most important things we can do to “connect” the generations is to take the time to bring value to lives. I get that it takes time, planning, and sometimes walking through the stuff to get to real things in a person’s life. Just the other day, I was reminded of the phrase “active listening.” It is the process that many ignore or are not aware of the need for.
Being with a teenager can be a challenge. It feels like they may well be on the path to maturity, and then suddenly, you have the toddler talking to you! We can be having a serious conversation, and “did you see that truck” is the next sentence! But hanging in there has its rewards!
Thursday, we all recovered, and he and I worked on some of his business and videos for the generations channel we do. One of my friends loaned us an Atari game station. It is the star of one of our videos.
We put an easy dinner together and spent the night chillin’.
One of the things I have worked with Jacob on is being involved with people of different generations. He has his friends he hangs with, and the last year he has missed the social piece of school. (On the other hand, he has been more focused on his work, working remotely.) Yet, in the midst of a lot of what has gone on, he has learned to be on his own.
The school year has been a challenge for many. Students, teachers, and parents. I have worked hard not to influence my children as to my thoughts about the school issue. We need to allow children to develop their own thoughts and thinking. The issues of remote and hybrid schools need to allow them to discuss what is going on with them. It is easy to overlay other thinking in their lives, and concerning Jacob, I have let him adjust to the things that have made sense for him when he is with me.
Friday morning, Jacob jumped out of bed. I had told him we could go to coffee. We talked about lots of things. It is easy to put them under the heading of hopes and dreams, but it was more than that. It was about school and family, faith and food, and cars.
We also had one of the more emotional times of our week together. Everyone wants people to be happy, to have smiles, but what about the tougher parts? This was one of them. As tears formed in his eyes and he reached across the table to hold my hand, I felt my heart shift.
All too often, teens have become masters of the “mask.” They frequently feel that they have to be grown up and oblivious to their emotions. Over the years, I have worked hard to encourage young people to be okay with who they are. It is not to say they ought not to look at what might need to be changed, but not to lose one’s self.
Sometimes, it takes days to get to the things that are tough for others to talk about. As much as I would like to speed up the process, patience is the motto with most young people.
The rest of the day, we took time to get ready for the party. Most of this was spent just cleaning up and making sure we were ready for friends and family. We spent the rest of the day hanging out, getting dinner, and kicking back.
Saturday was his birthday party with family and friends from church. He tried to “relax,” but you could tell he was excited. We took another coffee date, bringing my wife along. It was a fun morning! My daughter showed up and began to get ready for the party. Folks began to join us. People were comfortable and were really happy to be here. Jacob got some really great and thoughtful presents. He was very happy with the party.
And then it was time for him to head out. It was emotional for both of us. I am grateful for who he has become as a young man. Excited for the gentle spirit, he walks in.
(I did take a motorcycle ride yesterday for his actual birthday, and we took a ride together.)