This summer my wife and I hosted our 8-year-old granddaughter for a week. Her name is Haven Rose, and she lives in Ormond Beach, Florida, with three rambunctious younger brothers and a sweet-tempered infant sister, appropriately named Serena.

As the eldest child in a big family, Haven has household responsibilities, like keeping her siblings from destroying their home and killing each other. In our house, she’s Princess Haven, and we are her loyal minions, eager to do her bidding. Pretty much the way it is with all besotted “vacation” grandparents.

For Haven, coming to Maine is like traveling to Mars: Everything is different.

Sights and sounds that are nothing special to me are marvelous and magical to her. Like heart-shaped rocks found on the beach. We have so many of the damn things they pile up on the window sills. But to Haven, each rock is unique, worthy of her artistic attention. Painting rocks is her current passion.

Over her week’s stay, we’ve shared many special moments together: her small arms wrapped tightly around my waist on the back of my scooter; her horrified expression watching a clutch of green crabs devour a clam in a tidal pool; her deep pleasure in mixing just the right color to paint a beebalm flower in her Maine journal.

Not all 8-year-olds are good company, but Haven is. Only occasionally did we get that hooded look that said, “I could die right now I’m so bored.”

Linked by blood and genes and marriage, my nine grandchildren live close by and far away. Because of family history and geography, I was the last grandparent this batch of Florida grandkids got to know, and for that reason, they call me “New Grandpa.” Better than “Old Grandpa,” right? Getting old is tough enough without the ruthless name-calling of small children.

When we took Haven to Logan Airport to fly back home, her eyes were bright with anticipation, looking forward to seeing her siblings, eating Mom’s cooking and getting Dad’s bedtime backrubs. My eyes, however, were misty. It might be six months before we see her again, and in that half-year span she might become a different person, so quickly do they change at that age.

Now that Haven’s left, I try to see Maine as she did, through a child’s eyes, filled with wonder for the natural beauty that surrounds us, but that I’m prone to take for granted. I might even wander down to Cleaves Cove in search of the perfect heart rock. If I find it, I’ll keep it in a special place, for her next visit.

That earth-forged heart will last a thousand years, while my softer, more fragile heart is maybe good for another 20 years. But that stone will never feel a thing. And while my heart can sometimes break, like it did a little when we put Haven on that plane, it can also soar, like when I briefly saw the world fresh and beautiful and strange through her young, unjaded eyes.