A few years ago a there was a book written called “Everything You Ever Need to Know About Life You Learned in Kindergarten” … i.e. “you make a mess, you clean it up … you throw a toy at your fellow classmate, you say you are sorry … etc., etc.” You get the picture. But I contend that everything you need to know about life you learn in family, and this week my daughter had her family at what she annually calls “Nonna Camp”! (Nonna is Italian for grandmother).

Eleven grandchildren, ages 10 to 3 months, and their parents, spent a week together. Since I live next door, and I am “really old,” I watched the interaction between the little ones and realized that we adults could surely take lessons from them about relationships. And so I share with you some of my observations:

While my daughter, Michele Heston, had everything organized and planned – from games, lake swimming and other water activities, and meals, lots of meals – there were times when my house became the place where building forts and ramps for Hot Wheels with the Lincoln Logs I saved from my children, became a respite … and the conversations were rich: Emmett: “I am bigger than you because I eat my vegetables.” A non-plus cousin Heston just keeps building his fort with … “How can you be bigger than me when you are 4 and I am 6?” Emmett replied: “But I eat broccoli!” Heston: “I eat carrots!” … no confrontation, just talk!

The oldest grandchild, Sophia, was a real study. No matter the activity, the meal, she was quietly on the lookout for the younger ones…chasing a sassy little 2-year-old Lona who was headed for a disaster, to picking up the 3-month-old Nora so her mother Mary Rose could enjoy some water sports. It was just automatic with her. She just served … obviously learned from her family of five siblings.

Oh, there were fights over who had what toy the other wanted, but they were soon forgotten and playtime progressed with giggles and laughter ... the music of little voices. They never got stuck in the emotion, they just engaged in the next activity with “gusto.”

There is an advantage to being “really old.” We don’t have the energy for the physical activities of youth, but what we do have is the long view of what is of real value. Hopefully we can all learn from the little ones to forgive and live life to the full … for families teach us all we need to know about life!

Justine Devlin is an Avon Park resident. Guest columns are the opinion of the writer, not necessarily that of the Highlands News-Sun.