by Connie Vandeman Jeffery—
My granddaughter is six and loves Kindergarten. Since September, Kenzie’s life has revolved around learning, laughing, playing, discovering a new world of friends, and adoring her teacher. She loves her four-year-old sister Madi and all her cousins with whom she plays in her auntie’s daycare, but school opened her horizons in ways I hadn’t imagined, and she has blossomed into this confident, charming, social, articulate little human with whom I have the most wonderful conversations.
Back when school was on, our talks revolved around friends like besties Hazel and Greta and, well, just about everyone in the class. I’d pick her up after class a couple days a week and drop her off at her Auntie’s house on my way back to work, and we’d talk about Barbies, swimming, or plans for a trip to the zoo. And then, there was always “Grandma Friday.” Since both her parents work full time and I’m off on Fridays, I had the privilege of having Fridays with Kenzie from the age of three months. When Madi arrived nearly three years later, I had both girls. Fridays were magical. We had adventures, at their house and later at mine. We’d go on hikes and play Barbies and go to McDonalds for french fries and to the park with the big slides. Grandpa taught the girls English songs and nursery rhymes and played ball with them. Those were the good ole days—and they were only three months ago.
March 12 was Kenzie’s last day of “real” school. She played Humpty Dumpty in her class play and dressed like an egg. The class sang songs and acted out Mother Goose rhymes and had snacks with the parents and grandparents afterwards. By the next day, word went out that the school was closed and classes would be online. Her mommy was able to work from home. Her dad had to continue going to work every day at the hospital. Auntie’s daycare shut down, and Kenzie’s life as she knew it was completely changed. She loved being with her mom and Madi all day, and she loved Zoom classes twice a week, but she missed real school.
For the first few weeks I didn’t see my son and his family at all, and we live only one mile away. We facetimed and talked on the phone. We sent pictures back and forth. Then, we began to socially distance and see each other outside a couple times a week. I’d go watch the girls swim or sit with them in the backyard at a distance. And we talked. And laughed. And talked some more.
It’s difficult to know what children pick up—whether from the news (although, there’s no news on TV in the girls’ house) or from overheard conversations between parents—but I discovered Kenzie had picked up a lot and had great insight. Last week we had a conversation about change.
“You know, Grandma, the world is getting very weird,” she stated. “It certainly is,” I agreed, “but ‘weird,’ how?” “Everything is changing,” she said. “I can’t go to school or see my cousins, but I love Zoom class.” I asked her what she missed about actual school and she said, “Everything!” She talked about how change was hard. “I’d like there to be just one thing that wouldn’t change.”
“How about Grandma Friday?” I asked. “Maybe that doesn’t need to change.” “Really?” she said. “Will you come here and play with us and take us places every Friday while Mommy works?” I assured her that while I couldn’t spend the entire day with them and take them to the usual places, I would plan to spend time with them, either in person or on the phone, and we’d do crafts and read books and I’d watch them swim and play in the back yard. Kenzie was elated. “Well, that’s one thing that will not change,” she announced. “We can still have Grandma Fridays! Maybe ‘the corona’ isn’t the worst thing!”
“That’s so cute,” I said. “The way you said, ‘the corona.’”
“Grandma, ‘the corona’ is not cute,” she declared emphatically. And I agreed with her. Then, she ran off to find Madi and tell her about Grandma Fridays being back.
Finding one constant in the ever-changing landscape of her life gave Kenzie a moment of joy and caused me to think. What are my constants? There are so many. The unconditional love of my family; the reassuring promises in Scripture; the unchangeable nature of God. The words to “Abide with Me” are going through my mind, especially the second verse:
Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day
Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away
Change and decay in all around I see
O Thou who changest not, abide with me
Yes, dear Kenzie, there are some things that will never change. Grandma Fridays may change as you get older, but not the love of God.
May the peace and promises of our unchangeable God abide with you today.
Connie Vandeman Jeffery is the host of All God’s People, a weekly short video series highlighting the people and ministries of the Pacific Union Conference, and has had a long career in media.