God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Ya Gotta Love Him

Eleven year olds are such a trip! I had four of them years ago but because there were four I missed a lot of what each of them was all about. I wonder how much I overlooked and what joys were lost. There's much to be said about a house with an only child.

Casey had his Washington D.C. experience last week. It was a week with many unique opportunities; a time to experience the camaraderie that develops so quickly in communities that live together for short times--we used to call them "mountain top" experiences; a chance to test maturity; a moment in time that will remain over the years.

He will be writing about it on his blog once he catches up on school work, takes a few tests, reads a book and all those things that school kids must do. Maybe he'll find an hour or so next weekend. So I'll let him tell you about dinner dances, embassy dinners, Supreme Court deliberations, bus accidents and all that stuff.

I think I'll share about an eleven year old rising to challenges, handling a week away from home and a little about the learning curve for gramma.

Before Casey left, we put extensive thought into how to prepare him for the week, what he would need, how he could access money, how to address homesickness and a myriad of other types of adult obsessive thinking. In the future, I must remember that such compulsive behavior fails to account for the natural proclivities of the child mind.

Here's the run down of our failures of guidance and Casey's total boyishness.
  • No bath for 6 days
  • Brushed teeth twice (and he wears braces.)
  • Returned with a suitcase half full of clean clothes (he did change underwear.)
  • Used his ATM card for unique souvenirs such as a $75 snow lion from the National Natural Museum and two plastic trash picker uppers. The second treasure's purpose has nothing to do with a commitment to ecology. It seems they will make perfect robot arms when he decides to be a robot.

Meet Tras

Where is the copy of the Declaration of Independence? The feathered ink quills and parchment paper sold in bulk at Williamsburg? Horseshoes fashioned by the blacksmith? Candles? Anything that speaks of the experience? At this point, they have still to be found.

We had worried about Casey becoming homesick--well, to be truthful, he worried a lot about that, too. The morning he left, he didn't want to go. We gave him Ken's mobile so that he could call and keep in touch. And, he did call when the plane landed in D.C.--more for the thrill of using the phone than checking in. But, it was much more fun to take pictures with the phone than the camera.

After that, he called when the bus was hit by a car and when he took possession of Tras. As we sat at home, wondering what he was doing, how he was, missing him, his time was full of friendships, sharing a hotel room with other boys, adventure, learning and excitement.

Finally, he forgot the binder the program gave him which had his daily agendas, his notes, programs, etc--the things that we adults think are so important for future memories. I called the hotel and program and it may still be found. I hope so.

We need the binder to really find out about his week. It is coming out in bits and pieces--like today he remembered to tell us that he was chosen to demonstrate the routine of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers. After that the kids called him "soldier boy."

So..what did I learn?
  • Kids can take care of themselves and survive without all of the adult rules and concerns.
  • Not to put so much money in his account-if it's there, it's meant to be spent.
  • Not to worry about quantity of clothes.
  • Let Casey use "poor judgement" and listen to the whispers that call from store shelves--friends helped me to understand this. Traz will be a long-term companion.
  • Listen to the memories as they come and be thankful he has them.
Today he returned to school , wearing his People to People official clothes--shirt with logo, khaki pants, vest and lanyard. He is proud and ready to go again. What better ending is there?


Judith in Umbria said...

Jane, I recommend you continue to manage all significant funds for a while yet. I just don't really understand what's bad about bathing and brushing one's teeth?

Is that not a white tiger, like the famous denizens of the DC zoo? I saw them as infants!

barb cabot said...

Jane I always love to read your posts about Casey and the joys, concerns and challenges of parenting. It's all such an amazing learning journey for both the adult and the child. We don't have too many road maps if any to follow and there are so many crossroads we come upon to decide where and how to go. He is growing up before our eyes. What a wonderful experience he had. Great reflections Jane.

nancyhol said...


This post about Casey is just hysterical!

I really like Tras (I would probably buy him myself), so I am more surprised by the no bath and no teeth brushing.

We all learn from our life experiences, so I am sure that both you and Casey are wiser now too!

Jane said...

Nancy, I must admit that I was surprised about the showering and teeth brushing. Honestly, we do teach him cleanliness. On reflection though, it does seem rather young boyish. In a couple years, it will probably be difficult to tear him out of the shower--water shortage or not :-)

Gil said...

Gotta admit that you have one real boy there! I wouldn't even want to check out his ATM use when he goes to Italy alone.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jane,
Just loved the story about "Casey Goes to Washington". He knows how to do the town!
He is a typical 11 year old when away from his home routines.
Just think, by the time he goes away to University he'll probably be showering and brushing his teeth 7/7 days/week.
When you mentioned his purchase of Tras, my mind went to the donations he has given over the years I've known him. He often thinks of others.
I am so happy for him that he has Tras, back in his room with him, as a life-long friend.

Chiocciola said...

This is so funny! I laughed out loud when I read he hadn't showered! Sounds like he did pretty well apart from that though, and that he loved the experience.