At our family reunion this summer, we talked the grandmas into trying out the kayaks. Donning a life jacket, Grandma Bena climbed in, and we handed her a paddle. She dug the paddle into the water on both sides. What am I doing wrong? she said. I’m not going anywhere.
Paddle harder, we said.
She paddled harder.
She was growing frustrated, while all the rest of us started laughing. Her daughter was holding onto the back of the kayak. No matter how hard Bena paddled, she wasn’t going to get anywhere.
This is how parenting can be in the empty nest years.