Nana's House

When I was a little girl, I loved to go to Nana and Grandpa’s house. I thought it was quite a magical place. A place we could make fudge and popcorn and drink Cokes (both in shorter supply at home as daily staples). A place where Nana seemed to have nothing at all to do but to talk with me.

(This always amazed me, as my mom, who was a part-time realtor and a full-time mom, seemed to have so much to do all the time, in spite of the fact that she truly prioritized spending time with me. Why was it that moms seemed so busy and nanas had so much time?)

My Nana's house was a place where there was always space—and time—for endless games of cards or Monopoly. A place where Grandpa would take me out to his garden to measure how high the corn was growing and to check on his tomato plants and green beans. Where he would fix me an early breakfast of peanut butter on toast while we waited for Nana, a later sleeper, to get up.

Yep, I loved to go to Nana’s house.

But—where do the years go?—now I’m a Nana. How I long for the situation with my grandkids that I had with my grandmother—living in the same town, just a short car-ride between houses. My grandsons live in New Hampshire and North Carolina. And, in case you haven’t looked at a map lately, both of these states are a looong way from Wisconsin. Way too long!

So . . . I don’t get to have my grandsons come to Nana’s house very often. More often it’s easier for them and their parents if we go to them instead of their coming to us. And last Christmas, when we would have all been together here, we gathered instead in Florida to say goodbye to another very wonderful “Nana” (actually named “Nini” by her adoring grandchildren).

But guess what is about to happen? Both Bengt and Soren are coming to Nana and Farfar’s house (They call Woody “Farfar” according to the Swedish name for “father’s father”) in just about one week. Their mommies, Kelly and Abby, are coming too, and also their Aunt Erika, all the way from Dublin. I’ve taken to calling it “Girls’ Camp,” though of course it involves two very special little boys and one very special big one named Farfar.

Do I need to tell you how excited Woody and I are? We just can’t wait! We are having a ball trying to transform “Woody and Linda’s house” into “Nana and Farfar’s house.” Woody and Linda’s house, so filled with books and CD’s and comfortable napping sofas, would surely be a boring place for a very active 2-and- ½ year- old and a nonstop 18-month-old.

Fortunately we have neighbors. Generous, thoughtful neighbors who have kids—quite a few kids between them. And fortunately they have kept a lot of “baby stuff” and miscellaneous toddler entertainments. So this weekend Woody and I will go on scouting trips to a couple of neighboring basements and garages. Quite magical basements and garages which apparently hold not only things like car seats and strollers and booster seats but also wagons and riding toys and—of all things—a backyard roller coaster. Should be fun-filled “one-stop-shopping,” as one neighbor describes her lower level.

Why am I telling you this? I guess I just want you to know how excited this Nana is! But I guess I also wanted to encourage any of you reading this who may be “Nana” (or Grandma or Grammy or Mimi or whatever): You can make a really big—and wonderful—difference in your grandkids’ lives. My grandparents sure did.

And, for those of you readers who are mothers of young children, please remember how very much their grandparents long to see them and spend time with them. Many of you are probably fortunate enough to have grandparents living close by. But for those of you who don’t, keep in mind that a trip to “Nana’s house” might just be worth all the effort—and I know travel with children is a massive undertaking!—not only for your sake and your kids’ sake. But also for that Nana and Farfar waiting on the other end.

Gotta go for now. Time to dig through the basement storage to find out what toys we really did save. Nana’s house must have some good stuff to play with!