My parents flew out for a solid three weeks over the holidays and it was absolutely blissful. My mom couldn't tear herself away and decided to extend her stay a few weeks more, so she's still here! The more time my kids spend with their grandparents, the more ridiculous I think it is that we live so far away from both sets! I noticed some pretty important and wonderful things happening with my kids when my parents were here. There are just some things that grandparents do better...
A few times he took Sam for mini-hikes. It was so wonderful to see the look on Sam's face when they got back from those hikes. No matter how many times we tell Sam he's wonderful, strong, capable, and smart, there's just something about a day in the woods with your grandpa that really makes it sink in. He picked out a walking stick just like my dad's and I swear he stood several inches taller when I picked them up. One of the magical things about having my parents here is that they were able to reinforce the things I want my kids to know, about themselves, about their roots and their community, just about who they are.
My mom has her own special influence with the kids too, not the least of which was getting Sam to LOVE cleaning (thank goodness she uses her powers for good). I love watching how patient she is with Sam, answering his (myriad) questions so thoroughly and with such seriousness. Grandparents seem to be better able to see the big picture and grasp the importance of a relationship with a child. I want to remember how precious this time is, and how there is nothing more important I could be doing than reading (yet another) book to Vivian, or playing a board game with Sam, or listening to his (endless) stories, but sometimes I just get worn out! But the beautiful thing is that my parents totally picked up the slack. And in that listening and teaching and playing that happened, I could see my children's opinions of themselves shift and grow, and their understanding of their own worth enlarge.
Aren't we a strange culture that we grow up and so often not only leave the nest, but fly so far from the tree and the whole darn forest that we only see our parents a few times a year? Why? Why do we do that? Well, thank goodness I did so I could find Clay (in San Francisco), but still, it just seems crazy. I constantly daydream about having grandparents that live right next door. Do you live close to your parents? Do you find their interaction with your kids supports your parenting?
Oh yes, the elbow patches. So, my dad has this old, worn sweater that's his absolute favorite. My mom has already repaired it several times, and he just won't get rid of it. The elbows were getting pretty thread bare, and he asked if I knew how to darn (um, no, add that to my list of crazy skills to learn...), but I thought I might be able to add some sweet elbow patches. I'm sure you can find a better tutorial than this, but basically 1) cut, 2) pin, 3) sew (I used my sewing machine), and that's it. In retrospect, I would've made them a little larger, but they do the job. His sweater should definitely last him several more years (sorry Mom!). I figured it was the least I could do.