Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Beyond BIG PLANS, the moments that matter most to this grandma February 20, 2023

Book cover credit: Bob Shea’s website

I GOT PLANS! BIG PLANS, I SAY!” shouts the boy standing atop the highest hill in town, the hill he just climbed.

His plans take him to a big city, to a board room filled with MUCKETY-MUCKS, into a helicopter and onto a football field. He becomes mayor and then President. He has, he continues proclaiming, BIG PLANS.

His plans take him into space, flying in a rocket ship built by the state of Pennsylvania and wearing a space suit made of potatoes from Idaho. There is seemingly nothing he cannot do.

My grandkids, Isabelle, 6, and Isaac, 4, loved this easy reader picture book written by Bob Shea and illustrated by Lane Smith. I did, too. It’s funny, empowering and imaginative. And I loved reading it to my grandchildren as we snuggled into the recliner under a fleece throw. I lost count of how many times I read BIG PLANS during their overnight weekend stay.

As a grandma, I hold onto the moments rather than big plans for my young grandchildren. I want them to appreciate who they are now and Isaac as much as stated the same when he said he wanted to remain a kid. For now he is—a little boy whose knowledge of the solar system is not to be challenged. Likewise his sister with dinosaurs.

Saturday into Sunday afternoon, toys and books and puzzles littered the living room turned playroom. Toys pulled from totes in the basement. A Fisher Price school bus, a fire truck, a bulldozer. Matchbox vehicles, including an ambulance with doors that open, Isabelle noted. Small plastic dinosaurs and larger roaring ones. Cootie and BINGO pulled from an upstairs closet. Toys that their mom and their aunt and their uncle and a host of other children have played with through the decades, imaginations unleashed.

Isaac created art with crayons, inspired by another book we read, Jigsaw Mystery in the Mail by Bob Graham. He drew a birthday cake with two flaming candles, asked me to cut out double layers of cake and then staple the two together to form a card. He asked for an envelope, then requested I address it to United States of America. Nothing more. He expects his mom to drop the card in a mailbox, just like in the book.

The animal-focused book Moon Glowing written by Elizabeth Partridge and illustrated by Joan Paley brought discussion about hibernating beavers, bats and bears. Maybe a bear lives inside the snow cave we discovered in the backyard, Isabelle and I considered. The snow den into which Izzy and I poked a stick three feet long, the stick easily swallowed. I considered for a moment that an animal might come raging out. Certainly not a bear, but…

So we moved onto fishing (Izzy’s idea). She dropped her line over the limestone wall, hauling in fish after fish after fish. I appreciated how creative her mind, how dry maple leaves topping the snow, mulching flowerbeds, morphed into sunnies and crappies and walleyes caught via her stick fishing pole. And then this first grader mentioned that she wished she really was fishing. And although it’s no longer truly safe to ice fish in Minnesota this season, there’s always next winter. Or fishing from the dock at the cabin this summer.

These were the moments of my weekend. No BIG PLANS. But something far better—time with these dear little ones. Time to hug and hold and hang onto the moments that matter most. Like the moment Isaac declared, “Peanut butter pancakes make me happy!”

© Copyright 2023 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


16 Responses to “Beyond BIG PLANS, the moments that matter most to this grandma”

  1. Oh the IMAGINATION – LOVE, LOVE It! Such precious moments with the wee ones. We chuckled this weekend because we were out hiking and this girl walked by with her family and stated she would like the shortest hike – plain and to the point – ha! I think it is great when kids get outside to play and explore and put the screens down for a moment. Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂

  2. JanBeek Says:

    Ah, such a happy post! Moments to remember!! Those grandkids are so blessed to have a Grammy who reads with them, plays with them, imagines with them… God bless you, Audrey!! ❤

  3. Norma Says:

    Oh Audrey. I would love to know those children. Thank you for letting me.

    • You are welcome, Norma. I’ve been thinking of you and how much I wish you could come to Minnesota to experience the forecast major winter storm this week.

      • Norma Says:

        Thanks Audrey for your so kind invitation. After reading, and hearing about the weather hitting your part of the country, I think I will stay here in sunny California. At least we have received rain here, and snow in the mountains which we desperately have needed for the past 3 or 4 years. Today it is in the 60’s and low 70’s. There is snow predicted for tonight and tomorrow in the hills 35 or 40 miles down the road. We are in this valley surrounded by the mountains, and it is so beautiful when there is snow in the hills. Stay warm and safe.

      • You paint a beautiful picture of your snow-covered mountain backdrop. I’m thankful for the rain and snow you’ve received. And, yes, you don’t really want to come to Minnesota right now, even if you yearn to experience a blizzard.

  4. Valerie Says:

    Looks like some interesting books you read to the grandkids. Sounds like you all had a fun time.

  5. beth Says:

    how absolutely wonderful, it’s all about the moments as they happen, and you are so lucky to share these moments with your grandies, they’ll always remember them as much as you do.

  6. Life is sweet as is, sometimes, without Big Plans. Sounds like a beautiful time, Audrey. ❤

  7. So much imagination, joy and memories! These are special times that we are having with the little one in our lives… I want it to stay forever

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