Balancing the bitter, sweet in life is rarely as easy task

By Larry Simoneaux

Highs and lows.

Despite our attempts to take all of the bumps and bruises out of life (see: “Better living through chemistry”), we’ve never really succeeded.

In a way, that’s a good thing because the downside to such is that, when we try to smooth out life’s rough patches, we tend to lose the good times, too.

Further, there’s an argument to be made that if you live long enough and, while so doing, stop every now and then to take stock, you’ll get the feeling that events in life tend to balance out. They’ve even made a song or two about it all — one, even, with lyrics about taking “the bitter with the sweet.”

One example of this at the Simoneaux ranch has been watching with concern as all three of our kids — at one time or another — moved back in with us while they re-calibrated their lives, dreams, jobs, finances, goals, and what have you. And, from what friends tell me, we’re not alone.

Our two sons are gone and seem to be establishing themselves (as best as can be these days) in their careers. Our daughter will soon be the last to go — making her way to Texas.

For my wife and me, the good in all of this is that we might finally be able to relax and breathe a bit easier seeing them all, finally, on their own. The really tough part for us, though, is that with our daughter goes our granddaughter, who has truly been a spirit within these walls for the past several years.

You parents out there know what it’s like to raise kids. Ups and downs and no guarantees provided. They’ll delight you, frustrate you, anger you, send you into despair, make you so proud your buttons will pop, and have you finally understanding why some animals will eat their young. And all of this in the course of one day — of which there are an endless supply until they’re gone.

Grandkids, however, are the reward — the gold ring — for raising those kids, and my wife and I have had more than our share of reward with our granddaughter.

We’ve been able to read all of the stories again, tell tall tales, tuck her in, take her to the zoo, and explain such difficult concepts as (this was my idea) “the speed of dark” or why Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster and the Bermuda Triangle are all serious topics worthy of diligent study.

We’ve been able to make her breakfasts every morning (French toast with an extra sprinkle of sugar and fresh strawberries on the side is her favorite) and have begun teaching her the culinary arts.

These would include the proper way to lick cake batter off of a spatula, how to correctly apply copious amounts of icing to muffins, how many pecans are necessary to make perfect brownies, and the precise moment to flip a pancake.

However, all of that soon ends and no more will we be able to put the swimming pool up and show her (me again) how to properly generate large waves that’ll slosh completely over the sides and flood Grandma’s flower beds. Too, she’ll not be around to water her “tomato jungle,” nor will we be able to continue teaching her such things as the different species of birds that come to our feeders.

“Grandpa. What kind of bird is that?”

“Why that’s a large, brown one, Lori. A species well known throughout the world. It’s closely related to the little brown ones we see every now and then.”

“Larry, you’re hopeless. Stop telling her stuff like that.”

“What’s ‘hopeless,’ Grandma?”

“Your Grandpa. That’s what.”

They leave later this summer and we’re busy sucking up every last minute that we can because we know the “low” will hit us right between the eyes when she’s gone.

The good thing, though, is that my wife has stated that we’ll be making visits on a regular basis. “Regular” being defined as whenever she gets sick and tired of the cold wet winters we have around here. She also notes that other visits will closely coincide with her feeling the “need” to just hug her granddaughter again.

I doubt that I’ll put up much resistance.

Balance in life happens.

And, whenever grandkids are involved, it sure seems to occur much more frequently.

Larry Simoneaux lives in Edmonds. Send comments to