Watching Them Grow
Rita Papazian
Norwalk Citizen-News :08/24/2007

 Summerís end has a way of creeping up on us. We're feeling touches of autumn and nostalgia, for we don't want the lazy days of summer to end. Of course, there is beauty in all of the seasons, but there's been something special about this summer for me. I've been doing a lot of grandchildren-watching. Literally.

Without teaching responsibilities this summer, I've been able to plan my work schedule. I've made sure that I have scheduled days with my grandchildren, especially while they are still young. I have assigned myself to be the "observer."

I recall one very hot day three of my grandchildren were visiting Connecticut. Two brothers, Cameron, 3, and Zachary, 1 Ĺ, and their cousin Calum, also 1 1/2 and I sat in a lounge chair close to a little wading pool where they were playing. They were very intent in taking turns holding the hose to add water to the pool. Then, they were even more intent in scooping out the water with their little water pails.

Another day, the boys and their mothers and I walked to the beach, and again I sat observing. They repeated the pattern of filling their water pails and then dumping out the water into Long Island Sound.

Zachary thought it helpful to pick up a shell or pebble and walk to the edge of the water to throw it in and then return to the same spot to find another shell or pebble and repeat his path to the water to make another deposit, as if to tell the tide what he thought of all the pebbles and shells on the sand.

I have wonderful photos of these three little boys with shovels in hand and bodies bent downward as they fervently dug in the sand with the intent that only they in their little minds knew about. I cherish these photos; I have titled them "Men At Work."

Most recently I have traveled to Massachusetts to help my son and his family move into their new home. These past few days have transported me back more than 35 years during an early move to St. Louis. But this time, I am in my 6-year-old grandson Gabriel's room taking his clothes out of boxes and organizing them into a bureau. Although he has had his own bedroom set, now with the new house my son has added his own childhood bureau to Gabriel's room. My task at hand was quite sentimental for me as Gabriel and I organized his short- and long-sleeve shirts, along with his short and long pants and other clothing in the drawers.

"This used to be your daddy's bureau," I told Gabriel.

My son overheard me and stuck his head in the room and said, "Now you're going to hear lots of stories from Nana."

His room is lovely the same color scheme as his daddy's was when he was a little boy: red and blue. Only this time, the bedspread, pillows and even the lamp next to the bed have a Spider Man motif. The family even calls the park near their new home Spider Man Park after the rope jungle gym that the children climb.

Their home is near the New Hampshire border. As usual, I went to the local supermarket and bought the tomato sauce and pasta for Sunday dinner. I also bought the local newspaper and read that Gabriel's new elementary school will be celebrating its 50th anniversary. The school will conduct a special auction, and some of the items have been donated by one of the school's noteworthy alumni, Jay Leno. Well, that bit of news certainly got this celebrity-watcher's attention.

What is really special about this new house is that finally there is an extra bedroom that has been designated "the guest bedroom." It has two windows that are so long that you can lie in bed and see the tall trees. In fact, the house is set on a piece of land where from every window you see only tall trees.

During my visit to the new house, I walked Gabriel and his 4-year-old sister, Alexandra, around the property to introduce them to the plantings set in the ground by the previous owners. There are a large white-blossomed butterfly bush, a white hibiscus, and now chrysanthemums coming into bloom and, of course, the summer yellow daisies and a white rosebush are still in bloom.

The day of the family's move, I took the children to a garden center and had them each select two small cacti for their new home. After the move we put the plants in their rooms. I taught them about the cacti and how if they talk to it and give it water once in a while they will see it grow.

On my second visit, I brought some pots to transplant the cacti, for they had been in very tiny pots. The cacti are now on the floor in the kitchen near the sliding door that opens to the back deck. The cacti are very happy. Anyone can tell that. They are standing tall and sprouting new growth. The children check out the cacti every once in a while and give me updates.

I tell them that the cacti are very happy in their new home, just like Gabriel and Alexandra.

Rita Papazian is a free-lance journalist who has covered Norwalk issues extensively. E-mail can be sent to her at

© Copyright 2007 Rita Papazian All rights reserved.