Saturday, April 24, 2010

Aunt Oodie substitutes for Grampa

As a caring Grampa, it's great to be able to take your gramkids on little trips (with the permission of their parents) Enthusiasm for these activities is great--but here's a few examples of one determined woman who gave her grand niece much more than either of them had bargained for.

Lucy Sears Miller was Gramma Rosie's great aunt. The kids in the family nicknamed her OODIE and it stuck. (They couldn't pronouce "Lucy") She was Grampa Miller's sister, a maiden lady and she was lonely. Instead of sitting at home and wasting away, she put her salary as a clerk in a Washington D.C. bank to work. She loved to take little side trips up and down the Eastern Seabord and she liked to take her favorite niece with her. Together Oodie and Rosie went to the top of the Empire State Building and that's when nine year old Rosie discovered she was scared of heights. For all the efforts Oodie made to expose her oldest grand niece to the sights and sounds of American culture, Rosie was, at best a reluctant participant.

With Oodie it wasn't enough to go there--she wanted Rosie to have the "Unique Experience!" During the Summer of 1954 Rosie was 9 about to turn 10. On a ten day trip to "See the Sights" Oodie dragged Rosie to the Statue of Liberty. It wasn't enough to just stand outside--Oodie and Rosie had to climb the circular staircase to the top.

"I told her I didn't want to," Rosie remembers, "but there was no stopping her, and up we started. My gag reflex saved me the climb. About six steps up, I leaned over the rail and threw up my breakfast. Now a reasonable, caring relative would have settled for a post card or two, but not Oodie! She grabbed her small charge and raced to the handicapped elevator. Fashioning a small blind fold out of her silk scarf, Oodie paid the man a good sized bribe to take the two of them to the top of the crown. Of course Rosie had to be coaxed and yanked to the semi-circle of windows. Her little white knuckles grabbed onto the safety rail for dear life.

"Unforgettable? Oh, yes, but not for any of the right reasons." Rosie smiled remembering.

"We traveled to the Azelea festival--in Norfolk, Virginia. No heights. It was really pretty but we hiked for what seemed like hundreds of miles to see every shade and size of azeleas along the trail. Oodie made sure I signed up for junior membership in he Patomac Rose Society." said Rosie. "I can tell you how smelly fish emulsion nourishes the finest roses in the world."

This odd little couple visited Hershey, Pennsylvania where the very air smells chocolatey.

But it was on a trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains that Oodie met some adult opposition to her extreme tourist techniques. The bus stopped at an overlook and, as usual Oodie dragged her by then 12 year old grand niece to the protective safety log (No rail) for a breath taking view. It actually did take Rosie's breath away. As quickly as she arrived at the edge she fell backward in a dead faint!

"As I lay there, half way between waking and completely knocked out, I was vaguely aware of a man taking Oodie to task." Rosie said. "Apparently he was a doctor and saw me fall. He didn't like the way she was screaming to wake me up so she could prop me up for her precious view of the beautiful valley far below! Oodie didn't care! She figured she probably never would see this guy again--and kept shouting into my glazed over eyes and pulling on my lifeless arms for a once in a lifetime view."

Oodies extreme tourism inflicted on her oldest grand niece is a lesson to every caring adult who takes a youngster on a trip. Common sense and sensitivity to the real or imagined pains should prevail. Those little ones should be old enough to travel "on their own" without diapers or baby food. The ideal age seems to be from 10-13. After 14 he discovery of girls/boys and video games and what often seems to be a natural rebellion against the most caring love and attention often kicks in.

Again, developing trust and dreaming with a gramkid will make the "anticipation" more than half the fun of an adventure one on one with Grampa. Develop the knack to encourage the child to lead the way and then, be the adult. It'll be good for both of you!

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