My grandson, Addison, is walking. You know what that really means – he’s running. At 16-months-old, he cruises through his big new house, getting into all kinds of trouble and keeping his parents on their toes.

“How did this happen?” I muse, as I observe him toddle crookedly past me on the way to his next big adventure. Just the other day he was merely crawling and somewhat containable. Then….shazam! He’s not only walking, but pulling himself up onto furniture, climbing the stairs on the outside of the banister and terrorizing the family calico.

His mommy, newly expectant with a brother or sister for the little guy, is visibly worn to a frazzle by Addison’s antics, yet I never hear her complain. She simply laughs or rolls her eyes, depending on the situation, all the while praying that her son will take a good long nap so she can have one, too.

Tuckered out

I have to admit that after spending just half a day with my grandson, I could use a rest myself. After these “Addison afternoons,” I drive home feeling tuckered out and even a bit older than my age. I find myself wondering, “How did I become a grandmother so quickly anyway?” It seems like just yesterday I was the one in my 20s with wee ones of my own to chase.

When I’m not spending time with Addison, I’m caring for the tots at the children’s center where I work Monday through Friday. I feel my age there sometimes too as the twilight descends on winter afternoons. Who wouldn’t, especially after putting nine pairs of shoes on nine pairs of feet? Whew! Is it 5:30 yet?

No. Two more hours before I can drive home and soak my tired bones in a hot bath. I focus on the moment at hand and before I know it, I’m entirely caught up in this world of 2- and 3-year-olds. I help one child with a Lego tower, talk three little boys through a particularly challenging puzzle, sort through the morning’s artwork and then join my small friends as they sit down for a snack of chips and salsa. Life is good.

Life is interesting too. Between spending time with these older toddlers and time with my grandson, I realize I’m around a lot of “youngness.” Although this makes me feel older by the minute, I also realize, that I “grow new every day.” I keep this quote from Emily Dickinson in mind as I look at life through the eyes of a small child, coupled with the experience of nearly 50 years. It’s nothing less than astonishing.

In any given moment, a memory from childhood, an ordinary day in my past life as the mother of four little ones, a long forgotten game, the words to a song or a lost idea can suddenly come flooding back, surprising me with its impact.

Tips, tots and tea

Yes, at the end of the week I’m tired, but I can happily say that not a day goes by that I don’t learn something new and even exciting: a co-worker shares a great tip with me as we sip tea during the children’s nap time; one of my small friends completes a successful somersault and I have the honor of seeing it accomplished for the first time; and I can now sing every verse of “Frosty the Snowman” without looking at the words. All these things are extremely important, and the older I get, the more important they become.

Surrounded by children, I’m learning that it’s important to sit on the floor, to be silly, to make snow angels. It’s important to know how to put socks on a doll, and to roll a ball to a 15-month-old and see him run gleefully in the opposite direction instead of bringing it back to me. It’s an amazing thing to be as old as I am and rediscover fun.

Yes, at this late date I’m being taught that I can be a kid again, thanks to my grandson and these other small friends. It’s wonderful to know I’m still learning a lot, and with that learning, I grow not old, even though my body tells me otherwise, but new each and every day.

Karen Carlton is a freelance writer living in West Bath, who is a regular contributor to this column. She can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]

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