They Call Our Home ‘Gramland’

 To the right are our 3 Caballeros (littlest one’s wearing Grammy’s wide-brimmed hat), climbing on a rail looking into the penguin pool at Roger Williams Zoo  in Providence, Rhode Island.

I thought of commissioning a sign to put out by the road, signaling one’s approach to ‘Gramland’, but then I thought again: “No, it’s just a name that’s important to our own little guys and us.” It’s not something for the rest of the world (I still may do it.)

What’s ‘Gramland’? The term was actually coined by one of our 6-year-old twin grandsons. It’s really more of a state of mind…the place where the grandkids come to get in touch with nature, follow around my man, their Grandpa, who takes them out, helps them fill the birdfeeder, sets it up with their ‘help.‘ They then watch to see if they‘ve fooled ever-wily squirrels (Grandpa‘s greatest competitors.)

If Grandpa’s doing “pool stuff,” he patiently shows them how to set up Ralph (our pool robot), and lower him into the pool, whereby he cleans debris that‘s collected on the sides and walls. They get a big kick out of watching Ralph go about his job.

Sometimes they go in the garage (my guy’s Man Cave) where they hop onto Grandpa’s all white 1977 Ford Ranger F 150  pickup truck aside his 1968, 650 cc BSA motorcycle, where he regales him with his war stories of the time he drove a big wheel truck for 27 years. I see their little eyes dart about, as they imagine what he’s saying, and they hang on every word, imagining themselves behind the wheel.

The little one, Finn, loves to clean and so Grammy facilitates that by giving him chores to do. I enlist him in table-setting whereby he brings out the placemats, cutlery, napkins. He gets to use his counting skills here as I say to him: “Now make sure we have 7 settings out.” Though he’s only 3 and ½, he dutifully does all, going back and forth from kitchen to patio,

He’ll sweep, too, if you give him a proper broom (one he can handle). My husband had covered the pool during Hurricane Irene and when he took the cover off and pulled it aside, he noted debris that needed to be swept off. Who did it? Finn. My husband simply tapped our littlest one’s penchant for sweeping, into productive work.

It worked way better than “Finn, get away from that…Finn, don’t that.” He merely gave him the broom and let him strut his stuff.

The boys love it here, for our yard is an intricate kingdom where bunnies live (and eat our green plants) and birds of many species congregate (the twins use Grandpa’s binoculars to track their movements.) They go outside the gate, too, at the far corner and enter the row of hemlocks that border our property, pretending to be in another kingdom.

Years ago, I felt sad that I didn’t get to see my grandchildren much. They live out of state, several hundred miles away, and their parents’ demanding careers prevent more sustained interaction. I was so concerned, I raised our not seeing the grandchildren with a counselor who said: “Your time with your grandchildren–no matter how fractured–will be remembered always.”

She went on to say: “You’ve already told me how much you enjoy the times when you‘re together (I shared one memorable visit to a Burger King when we almost literally convulsed the place with our laughter.)”

Then, too, there was the time we brought the 3 boys with us to the car wash and employed them in cleaning the vehicle, another giggle-worthy occasion.

On a recent occasion of going to the Roger Williams Zoo, in Providence, we squired the 3 little boys about, pointing out attributes of the animals. What was the biggest hit? When the elephants pooped (and that‘s sizable,) another bring-down-the-house moment. The boys squealed their delight, while we joined in on the fun.

We followed our hot jaunt about the park (it was 90 degrees) by sitting in the shade, sipping Del’s Lemonade, that slushy, lemon-infused ice-cold drink that’s a legend in Rhode Island, building more memory-worthy moments.

After two or more hours, Grandpa and I limped out of the park with 3 tired little boys as we made our way to the car.

So, yes, they’re limited, fractured engagements, but they’re ever powerful and they’ll resonate always. I have it on good authority.

Photos in sequence are:  #1–Luke atop Grandpa’s truck, thinking about being a trucker (Grandpa tells them stories of his life on the road). #2-Filling the birdfeeder; #3-Boys conked out after visit to the park (they regroup, while we cannot); #3-Grandpa demonstrates “Ralph,” the robot; #5-Harnessing their boundless energy to sweep.

***If you ‘do it right,’ you get more of #3, but you have to outlast them, and that’s highly questionable.

*****Now, what’s your ‘Gramland’? Do you have special things you like to do with your grandchildren? We’re always looking for new and interesting ideas…Share below…Buttons provided.



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A lifetime teacher and realtor who's now a published writer, Colleen Kelly Mellor is a humorist first, ever aware of the thread that connects us all. Her works have appeared in the WSJ, Providence Journal, and CNN and NY Times-acclaimed medical blog,, to name a few. All material on this blog is exclusive property of the author and cannot be reproduced without this author's express written consent.
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