So, what’s the hardest part about being a grandparent? The hardest part for this writer is when your kids, who live far away and come for a wonderful extended summer visit, leave to go back home. That’s the hardest part. I love hellos. I hate good-byes, but I know everyone feels that way.

For three weeks, there’s this cacophony of sound in your house. There’s that pitter patter of little feet and bigger feet in the morning and those “Hello” and “Good Morning, Savta” and “We’re out of milk” greetings and “Can we go to the store, Savta”?

There are rubber ducks and assorted bath toys clogging the bathtub, and assorted baby onesies and kids’ tee shirts hanging on your elliptical to dry. There are various games and toys spread out in the den, and pogo sticks and soccer balls in the front yard. Across the street, neighbors keep coming over, asking to play with various grandchildren. There are your other children coming to visit, and more lively excitement as cousins reunite and frolic and run and jump and play.

There’s a steady stream of action. There’s colored sidewalk chalk that disintegrates into a colored mass all over the front walk and onto all the clothing of the four- and five-year-old eager artists.

There are enthusiastic little plant waterers who happily squirt the hose on your bushes and flowers until they are swimming like lily pads in a pond instead of lilies in a garden.

Then there’s the suppertime, when your daughters are all magically whipping up homemade pizza and checking lettuce and cutting up watermelon, and you marvel at their patience and aplomb.

There’s the inevitable squabbling as cousins or siblings vie for a jump rope or a turn on a big bouncy ball.

Then there’s the fun when everyone’s hanging upside down from your backyard climbing equipment.

You may notice a lot of ants beside the aunts that came over, because of all the special treats they’re finding on the floor. You may attempt to sweep and then realize it’s better to wait until later when everyone is off to bed.

So, there are all those hugs and those love notes that you hang on your refrigerator and bedroom door, and there’s this happy constant noise like a beautiful symphony.

Then suddenly, the last day of the visit arrives, and, too soon, little cousins are waving good-bye to each other and saying they’ll miss each other and everyone is piling into the car to head to the airport and you’re watching and waving and blowing kisses and trying not to look sad as you blink back tears and wish you could turn the clock back to the beginning of the visit again.

Hellos are wonderful and goodbyes are the opposite. You sit in a house where quiet is screaming, and there’s the two library books they borrowed, which you have to return, and pieces of the water gun you bought for the four-year old and there are a few little socks left behind. You take out your T’hilim and say, “Thank you, Hashem” for this wonderful visit,” and you take out your broom and your vacuum and your mop and you leave the little rubber duckies on the window sill near the tub waiting quietly for the next wonderful visit.

 By Susie Garber