Sunday, June 3, 2018

2018.06.03 The Go-Cart, Its Designer, and His Sister

’Tis the season of go-carts. You don’t see many of those around any more, especially homemade ones. One of our grandsons, Luke Matthew Simeone, is a go-cart aspirant. Luke is a high school junior who aspires to study engineering in college. But first he’s trying to master the art of go-carting.
Here is last year’s failed attempt, awaiting this year’s remodeling. It crashed. No injuries except to the ego.
And here he is at the wheel with his older sister Ali assisting from the rear. This is the repaired model.  Will he try it again this year?
One of life’s loveliest experiences for me is to meet a grandchild who has grown up and has aspirations, conversation, formed personality. When we don’t see them, except perhaps once or twice a year, we miss a lot. When we see them only as small children or teens in their family context or at an event like graduation, we miss a lot. When we see them on their own, gently poised on the brink of maturity when they are living away from home, we get to know them out of context for the first time. It brings joy.

We visited Ali Simeone at Lehigh University as she started her freshman year. She is studying engineering and will major in civil engineering. We had the pleasure of taking Ali to lunch and actually getting to know her as a young adult in her college context. She is exceptionally intelligent, and besides that, her personality shines—funny, talkative, bright. In other words, I’d want to be her friend—if I weren’t 60 years her senior and her step-grandmother. Is there such a category?
Here is Ali in her prom dress.  (I cringe remembering my own first prom dress—pink organza and strapless—myself a late bloomer sadly lacking in cleavage. )

Luke is also superbly intelligent, gifted in math, and plans to study engineering. He’s not as extroverted as his sister though he has a quiet sense of humor that keeps his family laughing. My favorite memory of Luke is from the time we were in New Jersey visiting and they had just gotten their new wii—with strict parental limitations on its use. Luke was already a developing wii whiz and wanted to play it 24/7. He knew how to lobby—again quietly and with humor. At each place where an adult would be sitting at the dinner table he placed small handwritten signs: “Think wii!”

Two engineers in one family, you need a little levity. Here are two Luke jokes:

Q What do you call a non-professional pig?
A  A hamateur! 

Q  What do you call quarters falling down out of the sky? 
A   Climate change. 

Ali is a gifted soccer player. Luke is a gifted golfer—already able to outplay his father. There’s grace in his swing.
At his junior prom Luke and his date, both in formal prom attire, posed swinging golf clubs—refreshing compared to the usual posed pose showing awkward teenagers, usually dying to shed the formality and any leftover social fears. 

To know young people not simply through the lens of either their social problems or their grades  is a  uniquely grandparental privilege. Parents worry about school and social adjustments. Grandparents can simply enjoy the blossoming for its own sake. It’s better than gardening, because you didn’t labor over these “plants” yet you behold their beauty.

We have a commitment we hope to keep for all twelve of our grandchildren: to visit each of them at their college, their job, or their first apartment when they move from home. We might make it.