The Legends of Summer


Summer is almost over and many of our grandkids are getting ready for school to begin. I hope everyone had the chance to spend some time with grandchildren this summer and to make the kind of memories that will keep us warm all winter.

I was blessed to have my grandsons spend time with me at our cottage as they have every summer since they were old enough to leave their mom and dad without feeling homesick. Certainly our times together have changed in the ten years they’ve been coming to the cottage. First of all, I’m ten years older, so participating in some of the boisterous games I once played easily has been replaced with the role of spectator and cheerleader. And, I don’t have the same income to indulge them in purchases at the store they call the “dollar store,” which really features no items for a dollar. In fact most items are many dollars.

The last change in our time together is perhaps not a change, but rather my own personality disorder, which, I confess, has become exacerbated with age.  As someone who has always been somewhat anal about order and cleanliness, I find I have become even more obsessive as I age. So when gobs of Blue Bubblegum ice cream plopped onto the back seat of my car and the bathroom towels were smeared with toothpaste, I worked hard at ignoring the mess and simply restated our cottage motto to the boys (and myself): We’re at the cottage. It doesn’t matter. They love that motto and I admit I have learned to concentrate on just having fun. After all, I can vacuum to my heart’s desire after they leave.

The other motto my grandkids love is what happens at the cottage stays at the cottage. That means that if there is a conflict among them, we resolve it here. That started years ago when one of them remarked to another, “I’m telling Mom.”  They appreciate this motto because I have assured them that I will not tell Mom either (unless of course I have a concern that affects their safety or health). In fact, two Christmases ago, my daughter gave me a plaque with similar words. The kids often simply point to the plaque on the wall when something happens that has the potential of getting them in trouble.

They devised a new expression this summer: ‘cottage legends.’ These aren’t really cottage legends, but more aptly cottage traditions— the activities and games we always play here, like scavenger hunts, swim races, marshmallow/wiener roasts and ghost stories around the outdoor fireplace and games like Monopoly, Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit.

We talked a lot about cottage legends. In fact, one night over dinner, I mentioned that someday, they would bring their children here and introduce them to the cottage legends we have enjoyed. The conversation naturally led to the fact that by then, I would probably no longer be living. Jack, the oldest looked at me thoughtfully for a minute and then said, “When you die, grammie, make sure you do a rainbow in the sky.” He was referring to the day my mother, his great-grandmother died, and a rainbow appeared shortly afterwards. My grandsons and I decided at the time it was a sign from her that she was okay. I’m not sure I will have the power or the virtue, if that’s what it takes, to create a rainbow, but Jack’s comment was one of the best cottage moments of the summer. It filled my heart, not to mention my eyes with tears, but it also told me that letting those gobs of ice cream dry to a hard mass was worth the effort of holding back my obsessive-compulsive nature.

Did you create ‘legends’ with your grandchildren this summer? Share them here for all grandparent readers to enjoy.