My three grandsons were recently here for an extreme weekend. Last summer they moved from Albuquerque to Dallas and we’re still getting used to the fact that we see each other infrequently instead of every day. What we need to learn is how to pace ourselves. Pacing is way more important for grandparents than for grandchildren.
The plan was that Alex 15, Nik 12, and Brian 10, would arrive at the Sunport on Friday evening. But Nik, being Nik, found a way to miss the plane. I won’t explain, but it was a Nik thing that led to much gnashing of teeth by all the family.
The good news is that the boys fly free and space available because their dad is a commercial pilot. So Alex and Brian arrived on Friday and Nik arrived on Saturday. Thus began a frenzied weekend of seeing friends, building fires in the chiminea, roasting marshmallows, grazing at the Frontier Mart, driving the golf cart, and playing hide and seek in the vineyard.
But let me back up to that part about building a fire. On Saturday afternoon Alex and I went off to buy marshmallows for roasting. Nik and Brian stayed home with my husband, John, and his friend, Carrel.
My instructions to Nik were that there’d be no fire building until I returned. I was barely out the driveway when Nik built a fire. John was watching, but Nik, being Nik, got worried and decided he’d better put out the fire before I returned. He found our fire extinguisher and used it. But instead of pointing it at the fire, he pointed it at his face and pulled the trigger. John, being John, thought that since nothing was on fire, everything was okay. Nik, being Nik, didn’t want to tell John what he’d done.
When I returned from the store, I found Nik and Brian in the house on the phone talking with people from Poison Control because Nik had a snoot full of baking soda from the fire extinguisher. At that point our plans were pretty much extinguished along with the fire. Nik spent the evening in the shower with water running over his head, Brian and Alex lost their appetite for marshmallows, John and Carrel couldn’t stop explaining themselves, and I answered follow-up calls from Poison Control while mopping up the kitchen where Nik had been holding his head under the running faucet.
The next day was better. John and I took the boys to a Lobo basketball game. As we entered The Pit the boys were given free samples of “Sore No More” for muscle aches, which they wore for the remainder of their visit causing my house, car, bed linens and towels to smell like a gymnasium. Aside from Brian getting Sore No More in his left eye, we had a great day.
The boys had planned to fly home on Monday so we got up at 6 am to make the flight. I was hanging on by a fingernail, thinking I’d put them on the plane and go home for a nap.
But the boys were bumped. That’s aviation jargon for stranded. There were no seats on their plane, and no hope of catching another flight until Tuesday. They’d miss Tuesday school which didn’t exactly bother them. We had another day for Sore No More and roasted marshmallows.
On Tuesday we drove back to the airport. Did I mention the bad news which is that the boys fly space available?
On Tuesday the airline had a wicked ticket agent who wouldn’t allow me to walk the boys through security to the gate. Never before had I been denied an “unaccompanied minor pass,” but people who fly free aren’t supposed to make waves. “If I can’t walk them to the gate, how will I know if they get on the flight?” I asked the agent. “They’ll get on,” he answered. “No doubt.”
This was a situation that Nik and I didn’t handle well. I’d planned to walk them through security, buy them food and hug them goodbye. But it was not to be. We were forced into a hasty and sudden goodbye.
Nik, being Nik, was stressed to distraction at the thought of being stranded somewhere beyond security without an adult. His brothers were no comfort to him, because in his words, “Sadly, I know them too well.”
Choking back emotion, I sent them off and stood outside security cranking my neck, watching from a distance while they took off shoes, emptied backpacks, and stood with hands up for naked photos. I prayed they wouldn’t lose a passport (their only I.D.) or a boarding pass. I knew they wouldn’t lose their junk food or Sore No More.
They disappeared from view and I spent the next hour sitting in the lobby texting Nik, assuring him I’d wait at the airport until he was safely in the air.
My phone rang. It was their father who’d been monitoring flight data from Dallas. He said the plane was full. They were bumped again. Moments later the boys and I had a joyful reunion and I welcomed them back to Albuquerque.
We ate lunch, and since we had three hours to kill, we drove to Corrales so Alex could visit Frontier Mart one last time. We basically drove from the airport to Frontier Mart to get more green chile beef jerky and Skittles. But what else did we have to do?
Finally we headed back for a 3:30 flight. This time I was allowed to walk them to the gate. When we hugged, we knew this goodbye was for real. I watched them board, then went to the observation deck where I saw their plane take off. As it rose over the Sandias, I called their parents and said, “They’re on their way. We had a perfect weekend.”