(Even though the grandkids call us Mark & Juju)
Last week, from Monday through Friday, Ainsley, our almost 14 year old granddaughter, stayed at the farm with us for Spring Break. She needed a little break from the stress of being an eighth grader, an older sister of two brothers, a teenager learning to be independent in a family, all the things that lay heavy on a teenager’s heart at times.
Mark and I, knowing the stress of being fourteen invited Ainsley to stay with us at the farm. Here is a list of what she did with us:
- Ate lots of good food. She recently became a vegetarian, and since I am one, Mark and I turned her on to all kinds of new foods.
- Didn’t worry about her hair. Middle schoolers are hyper aware of how they look and what they wear and how their makeup looks and any new zit that pops up. Ainsley’s hair, which is long and super curly and unmanageable, takes up huge amounts of time in the morning when she gets ready for school. The hair care regimen was thrown out the window at the farm. Ainsley wore LandRover Hats and pony tails all week.
- Watched movies on Netflix with her grandparents. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Parts 1 and 2 were on Netflix this month and so we watched them on Tuesday and Wednesday night. We really enjoyed them and had some good discussions about the characters.
- Made brownies for Mark. We don’t do a lot of sweets at the farmhouse, even though Mark loves sweets! Ainsley made him some Ghirardelli brownies and they ate them with Belgian chocolate ice-cream together! Ugh for me…but they loved the chocoholic fix.
- Saw all kinds of things in nature – A momma wren feeding her just hatched babies on the front porch of our house, a snipe hiding in the woods (we had to take a picture and figure out what the odd bird was), a ground hog, a bunch of purple martins in their gourd nests, crawdads, frogs, wild turkeys, and finally a huge snake at the pond that Mark thought was a Cottonmouth but turned out to be a brown water snake.
- Named two places at the farm. The first is Buttercup Meadow and the second is Sea of Green Meadow.
- Built a fort by the creek.
- Read a book on the deck on a beautiful sunny day and got sunburned!
- And…finally…her favorite thing (I asked her): she drove the Gator every day many times per day. At the first of the week, I was in the passenger seat. By Thursday, she was off on her own. I can only imagine the freedom she felt as she turned the key, drove off to Buttercup Meadow, and other parts of the farm by herself. It just made her week, and it just made her happy. I’m not sure why, but I can just tell it did.
And now…she’s gone back to her 8th grade life in Smithfield. I miss her so. I had so much fun with her last week. We didn’t even do much. But, I know we made memories. When Ainsley was born, as well as Jackson and Oliver, I promised myself that I would not be a Grandma that spoiled my grands with material crap and money. I would spend TIME with them and make memories with them. Last week was a huge cache of memories in Ainsley’s heart (I hope).
And so…I nicknamed this 5 days Grampa/Gramma Camp. I invited Jackson to come in June and Oliver to come in July. For each child, the days will be different, the memoires will be depend on their choice of things to do with us. But I hope and believe that these will be special times in their lives. I hope Grampa/Gramma Camp is an annual event for them even as they become teens, and young adults.
When Mark and I bought this farm we asked God to use us and it as a place of peace and serenity for all who came. I think it proved to be just that for our Spring Break camper, Ainsley last week. I hope and pray the grace that was showered on her last week will get her through the last weeks of middle school.