Rita Papazian
Published: June 23, 2012

I welcome summer with outstretched arms as I welcome visits from my
grandchildren now that school is out and the days are bright and beautiful with
the lush foliage, colorful gardens and the warm sun creeping across miles of
shoreline beaches. I share in observing the joyful, innocent smiles of my
grandchildren as they delight in the small pleasures of summer activities: riding
bikes and scooters, digging deep holes in the sand and building fortresses of sand
at the shoreline only to be amused as the waves change or obliterate the design.

My daughter and I watched this week as my 6-year-old grandson and 4-year-
old granddaughter made friends easily with another child while visiting our local
beach. My daughter remarked how easily children can make friends and why
couldn’t adults do the same. Introduce yourself and then just hop backwards in
the sand, she said, observing the actions of her daughter, Vivi. That’s all it really
takes: an exchange of names and a hop in the sand and you’re friends for life, or
at least until it’s time to drive home to New Jersey.

What more does a grandparent need than to observe the grandchildren holding
long colorful shovels and pails, the tools for executing the creative plans of the
imagination. Grandparents have just a few roles at the beach: one is to praise
every little sand creation and the other is to respond to the frequent sighs of “I’m

“You’re hungry? How can you be hungry; you just ate breakfast.”

Grandmothers and Nanas have a way of feigning a complaining response to “I’m
hungry.” I have come prepared with the cooler of watermelon, strawberries,
blueberries, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cheese and crackers, yogurt, and
pretzels. The frequent chorus es of “I’m hungry” are followed by “Can we have

ice cream?”

Sponge Bobs all around.

Of course, there is the serious side of summer. This is adult concerns that children
will remember and abide by the rules their parents frequently dispense to make
sure their young children keep safe.

Last week, two of my grandsons, 6 and 7-year-old brothers were visiting. They
decided to ride their scooters to the local park. My daughter accompanied them
and I followed in the car to drive their grandfather. Upon arriving at the park,
I parked the car and watched my grandson head down the street toward me.
Their mother had lagged behind and didn’t realize that the young boys were on
the scooters in the street and not, as they were told, on the sidewalk. As the 6-
year-old came toward the park, he was on the opposite side of the street and
needed to cross over. Fortunately before crossing, he looked over his shoulder
and just a few feet away, a car came ready to pass him. Zachary waited for the car
to pass before he scooted across the street. I think my heart stopped as I realized
what could have happened, if Zachary had not thought to look behind him before
crossing the street, I noticed that the car did not show any signs of slowing up as
it passed the child.

As much as we instill the importance of following safety rules with our children
and grandchildren, especially during the summer, we, as adults, need to take
extra precautions and anticipate the actions that young children can do in the
exuberance of summertime play. Look around you and observe how fast cars
drive down the street with children playing in the neighborhood. Look how many
cars are parked around ball fields and how easily it is for children to dart out
between cars into the street to retrieve a ball or run or scoot to the other side.

My 7-year-old grandson showed me his scrapped knees from riding down the hill
near his home. He told me he turned the wheel too sharply and fell of his bike.

I know scrapes and bumps are all part of growing up. I just hope that as all our
children embrace the warmth of summer and let their imaginations take them on
wonderful journeys that we adults take notice and show a little extra precaution
for a safe summer. 

© Copyright 2012 Rita Papazian All rights reserved.