When it comes to grandkid experiences, two of my favorite words are serendipity and spontaneity. Amid a lifestyle where so many activities for children (and adults, for that matter) are planned and structured, sometimes the things you don't plan are the ones that turn out to be the most fun.
This happened when I was staying overnight at the kids' house a couple weeks ago. The kids had been put to bed, and daughter Cookie and I were anticipating an actual conversation, something we have not really had since Sooby was born. We should have known that was not going to happen--but first some background.
In the process of shifting some bedrooms around on the lower level of the house, "my" bedroom had been moved upstairs onto the ground level in what used to be the kids' toy room. It was my first night in my new digs, where the windows, occupying two walls of the room, remained uncurtained. This was no problem, since both sets of windows looked out into thick wooded areas.
So, around 11 p.m. Cookie and I were propped up on my bed against my pillows, trying to remember how to talk to each other, when a sudden summer thunderstorm blew up. Also blowing up from her downstairs bedroom was Sooby, not so much aware of the storm as she was afraid that her mama and I might have a conversation she would miss. She crawled up on the bed with us, and, for some reason, we let her stay instead of sending her back to bed.
Momentarily a second set of little feet padded our way, and they belonged to Pooh. "I heard a noise up here," he announced, "so I came up here to investigate." Where does a three-year-old get a word like investigate? Cookie and I laughed at this, and then there were four of us on the bed.
That is when the thunderstorm became too spectacular for words. Lightning flashed into those bare windows in a show that would put any Fourth of July firework display to shame. On the heels of each brilliant flash, thunder rumbled close and loud, vibrating the whole house, shaking the bed.
For a good twenty minutes the four of us watched and listened to the power and force of Mother Nature unleashed in Kansas. We looked in amazement from one wall of windows to the next, like we were experiencing a movie in Sensurround. The lightning, profoundly bright, took us in a split second from pitch blackness outside to splashes of green as it spotlighted the tree leaves. "It looks green out there," Sooby commented. And indeed it did: bright green illuminating the dead of night.
Clearly, the kids had never witnessed a night thunderstorm in exactly this way, and I can't say that I myself have done that very many times. Maybe it was the time of night. Maybe it was the bare windows. Maybe it was the fact that the kids were supposed to be in bed.
Maybe it was the fact that, instead of chiding them for coming upstairs, Cookie and I once again postponed our conversation and watched and listened to this amazing storm, a true carpe diem moment, in childlike wonder ourselves.
Whatever else it was, I know it was serendipity. I know it was spontaneity. And, more than anything, I know that it was special.