In simple terms, the girls jump on my bed, as if it’s a trampoline, while I lay at the head and attempt to tackle them and tickle their toes. Sounds easy? Not! “I know all your tricks,” proclaimed Ashley as she visited us for the Fourth of July. Indeed, she does know most of them, including how to get out of the standard tickle attack.
As I hold one granddaughter and tickle her toes, the other goes on the assault by doing the same thing to my toes. In moments, they win with a double team mugging that would rival that of people five times their size. They do know all my tricks… and all my weaknesses.
These rituals are the little more than a deposit in the memory bank that will last a lifetime for these precious little girls. Making memories is the role of grandparents and parents.
These memory models are generally built in our home around holidays and other family rituals. Rituals are critical to all healthy communities, be they a community of family, a community of football players or even a community of men and women fighting to defend our country from those who would do us harm.
“A community is a social unit of any size that shares common values,” so says Wikipedia. To build a sense of community, it must be structured around values and rituals which honor those values. And when values are clear, decisions come easy.
My wife and I were both blessed to be a part of large families, 11 children in my case and 8 children in hers. When you’re part of a large group in any community, love is diluted by the sheer numbers… and multiplied as well.
One of the few things I remember from math class (about a hundred years ago) is when you multiply anything by nothing the answer is always nothing. So you have to have some skin in the game, i.e. something invested.
For precious little children like Ava and Ashley, the skin we put in the game is the love we give and share with them. Love is transferred via the rituals of the community. Rituals are established over a course of time, like playing Jiddo Monster, as Ava and Ashley like to call it.
Yes, they will grow out of that ritual one of these days and it will be replaced with a new one as they grow up. However, it’s imperative that we continue to establish new and on-going rituals. For instance, one of the gifts we give Ashley and Ava’s parents, on their anniversary, is the gift of a free day so they can enjoy one another.
This gift is one that gives back because we get the pleasure of watching them for the day.
What’s the next ritual for Ava and Ashley? We’re still working on current ones, like rating their dives into our swimming pool or writing comments into their journal which I gave them some time ago or who can beat Jiddo the most at tic-tac-toe. Build some rituals in your life with the people who are most important to you. For me, it’s being on the field as ball boy for my son Cory who is one of the assistant football coaches at St. Cloud High School. Those nights on the gridiron are in my dreams forever, including the night I got decked by a half dozen players as they ventured out of bounds with me in their path.
Rituals like enjoying charred marsh mellows at my son Christopher’s house or watching him dress up like a monster at Halloween. Rituals like watching my son Jason try to earn a spot as a weightlifter for the United States Olympic Team.
As we establish these rituals within our “family community” we set the tone for rituals our progeny can inherit. And that, after all, is the best trick of all!