Sunday, November 18, 2007

Grandparents and Grandkids

An email came from my grandson, Chase (age 8) who lives very far away. It made my day!

(In case it's too small for you to read, I made a magnified translation.)

hi, can you come for thanksgiving? ppppppppppppppp llllllllllllllllllllllllll eeeeeeeeeeeeeeee aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa sssssssssssssssssss Love, Chase.

His mom didn't even know he'd sent it. In fact, she said they were surprising their kids with an out-of-town adventure with cousins. We are hosting four of our kids and families here, so a get-together wasn't in the plan for this year. But just knowing he wants us is pure joy.

This sweet and sincere invitation reminds me of the unconditional love between grandkids and grandparents. They love us with no expectation except receiving love back. It's a pure, forgiving, tolerant, patient, accepting kind of love. They aren't trying to improve us, or change us. We're good enough. Who else loves us that way? They aren't embarrassed by us, and actually expect us to be a little eccentric, which in turn gives us confidence to just be ourselves with them. It's worth the hassle of having kids just to get the reward of grandkids.

As I've said before, I write a mission statement for everything. Three lines from the one I've written on being a Grandmother say this:

Being Grand
  1. Remind grandkids often that you love them and will always love them, no matter what.
  2. Support their parents in strengthening their marriages. The best gift a father can give his children is to love their mother. Give mom a little breathing space by taking the kids every once in a while, so she has some energy left for dad.
  3. Find out what your grand kid wants to do, and encourage him to do it. There will be plenty of people to pop his bubble, or point out the problems that will discourage him along the way. Be the eternal optimist who believes in him and his dreams.
Don Gale is a great philosopher and friend. I'm paraphrasing his good advice here:

When you get right down to it, life has a fairly simple formula.
Everyone needs a victory every day.
That's what keeps us going.
Each of us should do what we can to give others opportunities for victories.
And each of us should do what we can to minimize moments of defeat for those people we interact with.

This is applicable to anybody trying to lift the spirits of somebody else, but it's a great grandparenting rule of thumb.
The really fun part is when the grandkids start doing it back to us.

In the bathroom hearing a little tinkle, Jessica says, "Oma, I'm so proud!"

When I don't spill while pouring the milk, Chelsea says, "Good job!"

Lucy whispers the word to help me remember what I was saying, and then says, "That's great!"

This week is the week to count blessings. I'll be hanging out with many of my nearest and dearest, most valuable blessings. The past several days I was literally engulfed by little darlings jumping on my bed to wake me up, cuddling to the point of squishing me through every story, chatting about school, horseback riding lessons, personal design touches made on new furniture...there's nobody I'd rather have for friends than my grandkids. There isn't a generation gap. We're all accepted, and expected to be continually growing and learning, and teaching each other.

If you don't have any little ones of your own, there are plenty of kids that could use an extra grandparent. My own kids have neighbors who have made them doll furniture, brought jars of bubbles and come to play for an hour or so, lent Disney DVD's, invited the kids to sit with them in church, brought little baked goodies, or taught them to rake the leaves. The kids have plenty of love to go around and once you get a little, you'll want some more.

My Uncle Don was widowed in his 80's and lived many more years. He became a volunteer at a nearby elementary school, reading to the kids a few times a week. Other days he went to the children's hospital and rocked the sick babies and toddlers when parents weren't able to be there. He was a stooped, wrinkled old man when he started, but he had a spring in his step and the eyes and countenance of an angel those final years when he was a volunteer grandpa.

With 18 little grands, (the oldest one ten, going down to six months,) I feel that I'm overwhelmed by the sheer goodness of little kids. I want to wallow in it, splash and immerse myself in it as often as possible. It gives perspective to the world we live in. I remember what it's all about. I'm reminded to be less serious, more light-hearted, to laugh more, smile at strangers, and look for the wonder in every-day life.

If you run into a few kids at your Thanksgiving celebrations, make friends with one or two of them if there's an opportunity. Even for just that day you'll find delight in things they say, and the encounter will lift your spirits and make you a kinder person for a little while.

Kids are absolutely Grand!


Nimmy said...

Sweet, sweet, sweet. My children absolutely love Oma and Opa. We're blessed to live close by and enjoy your company often. I remember the sign hanging in Gabi's room: "If mother says no, ask grandmother." To a mom just holding on to her patience, it's nice to have the calming influence of grandparents. Love you!

kenju said...

Didn't you just LOVE that??!! What beautiful eyes he has!

Stie: My Favorite Things said...

It made me so happy when I found out that Chase secretly invited you to Thanksgiving. It warms my heart to know how into you my kids are. What you wrote was absolutely beautiful.

gab said...

So sweet! What great words. Thanks for living them, too. I feel so blessed that my children have such wonderful grandparents. I find comfort knowing that there are some other people out there who love 'em as much as I do.

Joy Des Jardins said...

Chase's e-mail is too precious. It's one for that "special" folder. You have many things to be thankful for Marty...and not just at Thanksgiving. You truly are blessed....

Marty said...

Thank you all for validating a grandmother's reason for living.