Rays of Hope in these Divisive Times

I am missing my son and my grandsons who have left our islands to return to their home on the mainland. They were here for two wonderful weeks. Their time with us was a welcome diversion from the recent events in our country and the world. 

As I read the news as well as comments and links to articles on social media, I feel despondent. This is not the world I want for my grandsons. We are so divided as a state, a nation, and a world. Rather than working together on problems affecting us now and in the future, we choose to take totally opposite sides with no compromise in sight. It is discouraging that the things we try to teach our students in school are so openly flaunted in real life amongst adults. 
As an educator, my perception of  “success” is not necessarily about grades, test scores, or getting into the best colleges. I may hound Jace and Jayden about their backpacks that could weigh less if they threw away things they no longer need; I may lecture them about leaving their assignments to the last minute; I may try to teach them how to be more organized, but I also realize that they need to find their own way in this world. They have different challenges, and while I can make suggestions, they are the ones who have to put those skills to use as they alternate between their mom and dad’s homes. That said, they have admirable traits that I equate with “success” in life:
  • They are curious. They ask a lot of questions about almost anything – US politics, the Iran conflict, immigration, heart surgery (pig valve vs. metal valve replacement), survival of the fittest – and although their viewpoints are reflective of their young ages (12 and 10 years old), they nevertheless are interested and want to engage with us in learning more. They watch YouTube a lot, not just for entertainment, but also to learn new information. As we were cooking together, Jayden shared about salmonella and why we needed to wash everything, even the counter, after cutting the chicken. When I asked where he learned so much about salmonella, he replied, “Inside Edition.” He shared that he enjoys that news program.
  • They are caring. I’ve watched them hold the door open for others; they watch over my 92-year-old mom when we are out, sometimes holding her elbow when she walks; they help us with chores around the house. After reading Wonder to them the other year, one of my questions to them is, “What nice thing did you do for someone else today?” It has helped them to think about others.
  • They persevere.  When we play games or I give them a puzzle, neither boy gives up. Jace loves math and when we present him with a problem to solve, he never wants me to give him the answer or explanation; he engages in discussions and arguments with his dad or with me about his mathematical thinking. Jayden is passionate about cooking, and he never complains about doing the hard work that is required to put forth a meal. On this trip, he prepared two dinners and two breakfasts for us, and I was amazed at how he never gave up, even when the job was tedious. 
  • They know a lot about technology but they are just as happy doing activities that require no technology. When we have a question about our phones, Randy and I ask them to help us. They don’t have iPhones, but they know more about them than we do, and inevitably if we have a problem, they will fix it and show us what we can do the next time if the problem arises again. When we went to T Mobile to get earbuds for their dad for his birthday, I was astounded at the questions they asked the salesperson, questions I never would have thought of when making a purchase. They love to watch videos and play Fortnite on their phones or iPad, but they’re just as happy playing card games or board games. They are competitive and strategic, and although they hate to lose, they don’t spoil the fun for others by being poor losers. 
  • They love to science.  They are observant about the world around them, and one of their favorite activities when they come to Hawaii is trying to catch lizards. They marvel at the patterns they see, not just on the lizards’ backs, but on flowers and plants they observe on our walks. They are curious about the different birds they see around our neighborhood – golden plovers, cattle egrets, canaries, and even mynahs. I keep hoping we’ll see a Shaman Thrush one day, but so far, we haven’t had any luck. They enjoy passing by a house with a crown flower tree where they can observe the life cycle of the monarch butterfly. We stop to look at different flowers and trees along the way, and we discuss how Hawaii’s environment is different from Nevada’s which means different kinds of plants and animals thrive here. 
Being a grandparent is one of life’s great pleasures. I have the time now to enjoy my grandsons, to truly enjoy the time we have to spend together. Of course I wish that Justin, Jace, and Jayden lived here, but as parents, we give our children roots and wings. Justin’s roots are here in Hawaii – he definitely leads with aloha – but he has spread his wings by moving to Nevada and starting a life there. Our grandsons are the beneficiaries, being able to experience more of life, as a result. 
So at least for these past two weeks, I had the opportunity to put the divisiveness on the back burner and immerse myself in enjoying the family time. And as Jace and Jayden have shown me through their actions, perhaps our children will show us that there is hope for our world. 
 We learned to play a new card game called “Golf.” Jace kept losing, even with a great hand, but he never was a poor sport about it. 
Jayden knows how to use a knife – his dad taught him to “rock the knife” – and he basically prepared everything for the Chicken Parmesan dinner. As he stated, “Grandma, you’re basically supervising me because I’m doing all the work.”