COLUMN: On travels with grandchildren

Following custom, I spoke at the weddings of my children and as I recall, at those of my sons ...

On the Other Hand, by Mark Rushton

Following custom, I spoke at the weddings of my children and as I recall, at those of my sons, I admonished my new daughters-in-law to, loosely speaking, “go forth and multiply.”

While I am certain my words were not consciously considered during their times of reproduction, they did in the process provide me with a number of wonderful grandchildren.

From the time they were babies through the toddler years, it was fascinating to have them visit, picking berries off the back fence, running freely about the yard and cluttering the floors with toys.

However, the downside of very small children is that it takes some time, to which I am long unaccustomed, to adopt regular bathroom skills. Diapers and I are not friends.

Fortunately kids grow, and soon the ‘chores’ are left behind to reveal incredible little people who want to do, at least in their minds, things ‘unique’ with their grandfather.

Certainly, and we are still doing it, developing a love for horses has been a big part of their growing up, abetted fortunately by one daughter-in-law of like mind, though admittedly for the most part the horses and ponies are currently little more than field ornaments.

Since ‘Poppa’ fancies himself a bit of an outdoorsman, it was only natural that the kids, now that they are old enough, began to request woodsy adventures.

Last year, out of the blue, my 12-year-old granddaughter indicated a desire to shoot a gun, so my son and family, with a number of grandpa’s firearms, ventured out to a shooting area and broke a few clay pigeons and pierced some tin cans. So enthusiastic was she that with her own money bought a BB-gun, with which she is most accurate.

Where, I asked my daughter-in-law, did this interest come from? “Must be in her DNA” was the response.

That led ‘Poppa’ to offer a bird-hunting trip this fall. After obtaining the appropriate youth licence, off we went to the mountains west of Merritt.

Three hours of backroads, six rounds from the little shotgun, and she had six grouse in the bag.

Hunting however, is but one activity in a province that is blessed with almost limitless opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors. This past weekend my youngest son and his three children joined me on a pristine mountain lake, a reprise of an earlier trip this spring. Unfortunately the fish were unco-operative, not only for us but all others on the lake that weekend who were anticipating piscatorial success.

Even though that experience didn’t diminish the grandkids enthusiasm, the fish again rejected all our offers, despite often being visible in the shallows beneath the boat.

Despite the lack of success, the two older kids decided to stay with “Poppa’ fishing for a few extra hours after my son returned to the Fraser Valley so the youngest could attend a birthday party.

One of the most interesting activities in a fishing boat is not the short-lived excitement of landing a trout, but the conversations that occur while and waiting, and hoping, for the fish to bite.

For an old guy who grew up when televisions were in their infancy, when you had to make a telephone call through an operator, and books the precursor to the internet, the information little kids know, and talk about, is incredible.

The knowledge our grandchildren possess and share away from the distraction of television, iPads and other accoutrements of our technological age makes time with them not only precious, but an adventure to be repeated as often as possible.