It was Karen who reminded me. She has vivid and fond memories of the times Rich and I would leave her and her two bothers with their grandparents in Duluth while we continued up to the Boundary Waters for some alone time canoeing. That much I remembered. But I didn’t recall that she referred to it as “Grandma and Grandpa Camp.” The name alone conjures up visions of kids having a great time, sans parents, doing all sorts of special things with their grandparents.
For some time now, I’ve been eager to bring my own grandkids to Duluth for a visit. But I had to be patient. Last time I gently asked if they would like to come, the answer was a swift and firm “No.” Even from the feisty middle child who I thought might be game. I had to bide my time until they were old enough to relish the experience.
I also had another stipulation. I wanted them one at a time. I craved having one-on-one time with each of them, where I could have their undivided attention and they could monopolize mine.
At last the day finally arrived. Ben had an extra week of Christmas break when his parents and siblings were back at work and day care. It seemed the perfect opportunity to try again. Emboldened by attending Kindergarten, Ben was actually excited about the idea of spending three days with us.
I knew we were off to a good start when I went drove down to pick him up and he practically jumped into my arms shouting “Grammy!” The next morning he arose before six, eager to add his blanket and stuffed animals to his backpack. The fun started almost immediately when we stopped at Caribou for coffee and I bought him a hot chocolate for the ride. This was going to be a true Grammy visit.
My instincts were dead on. We had the most delightful three days together. Everything we did took on the aura of being special. He relished all the attention, and so did I. The normal tendencies of sibling rivalry, the temptation to push the limits of discipline and finicky eating evaporated. Homesickness never materialized.
The only downside to the visit was that Rich, aka Grandpa, was out of commission with a sprained back. He was unable to participate in any of our antics, but observed it all from his painful perch on the couch. But I was in my element, and carried on.
Ben loved the Train Museum, particularly the huge snow plow train and the tall steam engine. He overcame his initial fear of the giant trains and soon climbed inside to sit in the engineer’s seat. I took him to Marshall Hardware, where they have a couple of aisles stocked with modest but time tested toys and let him choose one to bring home. A blue steam engine was his proud pick.
We had just as much fun at home, playing, cooking and crafting together. My inner child was reborn as I spent hours building with Lincoln Logs, making Lego creations and connecting miles of Brio train track. Ben was in seventh heaven making his own pizza for dinner, using pepperoni to create a face. Making it turned out to be far more interesting than actually eating it, but it was totally worth it for the joy it delivered.
The best were the moments of silliness. Scooping ice cream was an absolute necessity after dinner each night. That much he inherited from me.
My favorite craft was making cookie cutter ice ornaments. Inspired by Outside in Duluth, we filled a pan with water, cookie cutters and twine hangers. In the frigid temperatures, it all froze quickly and soon we were hanging beautiful icy shapes on the outdoor tree covered in lights. Those ornaments will serve as a tender reminder of Ben’s visit until they melt – which doesn’t look to be any time soon.
It was well worth the wait, for the time to be right and the visit to be a success. And since sister, Mya, is now begging for her turn I know I will get to do this again soon. Grammy Camp has been firmly established.