Sunday, August 25, 2019


i was at a small beach in colorado with my grandkids, trying to teach them about sandcastles. they were busy and not particularly interested. in my mind, the lesson about sandcastles is one of the most important in life. it goes like this: the lake waves come, and wash it away, sooner or later, and there isn’t much you can do about it.

of course, i always make my sandcastles pretty close to the edge of the lake. the waves are constant there, and some are bigger than others, so those actually do some damage. to me it’s a testament of my being there, that the moat gets bigger or smaller, the turrets get protected or moved out of the way, the water has someplace to go. it becomes a symbol of my constant desire to make the world better, to change it, to shift it around, to make a mark on it. i try to show them as they walk by. they by and large think i’m a silly old guy.

my grandson, the youngest, is only two. he has found some people who have actual toys, like a shovel and a pail, and they of course don’t mind his using them. this makes him very busy, since he can try to see what it’s like to take whole shovelfuls of sand and put them in the pail, and then tip them out. he doesn’t offer to apply his new methods to my sandcastle, since to him what’s important is the kind of change he himself can cause to the beach. he has his own little territory where there are some cattails nearby and some green swampy wetland plants and flowers – it’s a little shadier over there.

my granddaughter however is much more social. she’s about nine, and to her it’s all about other nine year olds, and what they like and how they view the world. she doesn’t care so much about the sand and what you can make with it, but she really cares about the people and what they know how to do. for example: can you swim? can you splash? how do you splash so you can splash the most water? she’s become fast friends within minutes with another girl who is about her age.

to the parents, my daughter and her husband, it’s a small break. if the kids are outside, and busy, and playing, that’s good, and if they are ignoring grandpa, that’s not a problem, since grandpa is at least happy nd enjoying their presence. the sandcastles are irrelevant. they come and go anyway. the sunburn, that’ll hang around, but only if you’re not on top of the sunscreen.


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