I didn’t go to culinary camp. My 15-year-old grandson did, and I got to enjoy the results.
Being a grandmother is one of the greatest joys of my life and it can be challenging. Like parenting except you are not their parent and you don’t see them regularly, so you get to know them anew with each visit.
When the grandchildren were little it was easy. They were giggly and playful, creative and loving. All I had to do was show up and we had fun. Occasionally one of my children (their parents) would correct the way I said something or did something. Ways of parenting continue to evolve. But mostly it was just hours of sitting on the floor playing or walking to the park and playing or exploring new places through the eyes of a child.
As they have transitioned into teens, the interactions are different. This is to be expected. They are discovering who they are, separate from their parents and grandparents. And, as I remember from raising my two children, each one of my four grandchildren is different.
Griffin, the grandson who was with me during this week of culinary camp has gone through several iterations of interest. He has always been creative. As a small child he created “fairy houses” out of sticks and leaves and flowers, in the hopes that the small creatures would come visit. He developed an interest in art for awhile and was quite good. Now he expresses his creativity through playing percussion in the school and city orchestra and through cooking. Mostly baking, but he is adept in the kitchen when creating meals also.
He is also a very self-contained young man. He does not need a lot of conversation. As his grandmother, I wanted conversation, I wanted to know what he was thinking and feeling and dreaming about. We developed an easy flow. I shared with him some memories of his childhood or memories of his mother’s childhood. I shared with him things I was thinking about. I would ask a few questions and got some short answers. And then I would just smile at him and love him. At this stage of his life, this is who he is. He is respectful and easy going. He even humored me by learning to play dominoes with me. I could tell the game bored him, but he played anyway, for short rounds. We learned to respect each other’s needs for quiet time and for interaction.
And culinary school … he did love that. He came out every day with boxes and containers of desserts and confections they made. So much sugar! But on the ride home is when he was the most talkative. He would tell me about the partner he had each day. He would tell me what they made that day. He would tell me how much he enjoyed the state-of-the-art kitchen they were working in.
What I learned in culinary school is that too much sugar hurts my stomach, but I already knew that. I had to taste everything he made, and I am glad that camp is over and most of the goodies have gone home with him.
I learned that I like sharing space with my 15-year-old grandson, even if we don’t talk much. We had dinners together, we played dominoes and we took a couple of walks together. Just being together and accepting that we loved each other was enough. We did not have to engage in deep conversation.
I also reminded myself that I have no idea how I worked and raised two kids on my own and got anything done. I certainly fell behind on some of the Hey, Boomer things I intended to do this week. Which means I also reminded myself about priorities. Family first, essential work next, and everything else can wait.
It was a good week.