My friend Michelle just wrapped up “Nana Camp” with her two grandchildren from Portland, Ore. She created a lot of adventures into a jam-packed three days, including a birthday celebration for Ian, who turned 13 in July, and Riley, who celebrated her 10th birthday the same month.
I got to join in on some of the fun because I have known the kids since they were born. It was fun, but also enlightening.
Ian and Riley are great kids with good parents in Tim and Chelyncia and happy, healthy lives. They love their Nana, and it shows in the consideration they give her at every turn. They are polite to adults, easy to entertain, and they seem to really enjoy sharing their adventures, their dreams and thoughts about school, making them great conversationalists.
What was amazing to me as I watched and interacted with Riley and Ian, however, was how they treat each other. As siblings, these two are amazing, and the way they treat each other showed me a depth of maturity and respect that I wasn’t expecting and don’t often see.
Let’s face it, brothers can be a pain in the butt. Sisters can be a nuisance. Getting along with your sibling when you are a child isn’t easy.
My younger brother and I had some serious wars in the living room over important things like which television show to watch or who got the last brownie. While Tim never cut my Barbie’s hair, and I never took the chain off his bicycle so he couldn’t follow me (I didn’t want to get my hands greasy), we often got on each other’s nerves.
My two boys got along beautifully most of the time, and their deep friendship and love for each other has endured into adulthood. Still, there were days where doors slammed, feet stomped and not-so-kind words flew.
Riley and Ian, however, seem to know that it is important to respect each other. They are polite to each other. They listen to each other. Even when they want the spotlight, they remember their manners.
Their parents are no doubt shaking their heads, wondering who these children are and what happened to the two they dropped off at Nana’s for camp! It is very true, thank goodness, that children behave better away from home than they do at home.
At lunch on Day 1 of Nana Camp, Riley and Ian were telling us about the complete transformation of what we used to know as Archie comic books. From what they were describing of the television show “Riverdale,” it is only like the comic books from my day in the name of the characters.
As Riley picked up the story thread, Ian asked, “Can I explain about that part, Riley?”
“OK,” she answered. “But I want to tell about the end.”
“Oh, of course,” he answered.
And so it would go, a gentle sharing of center stage, with respect and politeness as the unspoken rule of the moment.
Now I know that these two can disagree, have little temper fits and cry when things don’t seem fair. I’m sure there are days that teenager Ian would like to lock his sister in her room or lock her out of his. I’m sure Riley occasionally finds her big brother annoying.
But whether or not they show each other the respect they exhibited at Nana Camp all the time or not, it’s there. They have it, and they seem to know that it is the correct way to treat someone you love.
That is beautiful. It is, perhaps, something we all need to work a little harder to practice ourselves and instill in our children and grandchildren.