“Grandchildren are God’s way of compensating us for growing old”
Twenty five years ago, I was blessed to have met my first grandchild, a little girl. This week I was additionally blessed to hear the news that number seven is on the way, bringing my total number of granchildren to four boys and three girls. The news that my family will welcome a new life this summer has left me with with same sense of excitement and genuine euphoria as it did twenty five years ago. Yet, being a grandparent is not as easy as it might seem. First and foremost, you have to know your boundaries and when you have four children like I do, you find that your boundaries for each set of parents are different. For me, however, I have been fortunate that, for the most part, I have freely bonded with my granchildren. With God’s will, I intend to be there when my newest little princess makes her debut in the world and I would be remiss if I didn’t thank my children for continuing to include me in my grandchildren’s lives. Over the past twenty five years, I have attended countless dance recitals, baseball games, wrestling matches, reconciliations, nursery school events, concerts, boy scout and girl scout ceremonies, and school functions, not to mention the usual Holy Communions, graduations and the old standby ‘babysitter’, whether it be picking up the kids at school, keeping a doctor’s appointment or ‘sitting’ at home while their parents enjoyed a night out together. I was thrilled to be there to cheer when my grandkids pinned an opponent, scored a goal, hit a line drive or won high score overall in a dance competition. No matter the circumstances, each and every precious minute of quality time I spend with my grandchildren, even the moments you might want to forget, are, like tattoos, carved into our hearts forever and ever.
As such, I have certainly had my share of both comical and embarrassing moments. For example, I
will never forget taking my grandson, Matthew, to kindergarten on the first day of school because his mommy had to work. (Both my daughters are school teachers) Well, he refused to go. He wrapped himself around my leg. He screamed. He cried. He pulled. He tugged. Finally, his plan B was to wrap himself around the radiator just inside the main entrance to the school, and, become the first thing everyone saw as they entered the building. So here he sat – his carefully combed platinum blonde, mushroom-cut hair all messed up and his beautiful big eyes swollen and red – a defiant little one who decided he was going to take his best stand against going to school. And he did. Being a good grandma, of course, I would not leave his side, trying to comfort him as best I could and ignore the parade of students and parents entering the school, because, I knew I couldn’t take him home, even though that’s what I wanted to do with all my heart. In the end, he had to be physically carried into his classroom by the security guard who did so as a last resort, when all of her ‘child psychcology’ failed. When I returned at the end of the school day to retrieve him from his personal, temporary ‘imprisonment’, I found that on the first day of school we had become instant celebrities. Folks I had never met were coming over to us asking if he was the cute little boy attached to the radiator!
As I write this, another memory, tucked away in my heart, leaves its nesting place and comes to mind. I had been speaking to my 25 year old granddaughter, Marie, on the phone recently, and she said to me, “P”, which is what all my grandchildren call me, “I was thinking that we should go stinkin’ again.” With those words my heart melted and the special memory I shared with my granddaughter when she was about 10 years old and on the threshold of becoming a young lady, poured out. You see, she and I would go to a local department store – I believe it was usually Sears – and try out all the fragrance testers on display in the perfume section making sure that we each got to try every one. You could smell us coming a mile away, hence the name ‘stinkin’.
Now, with the promise of a new little life on the way, I have a renewed reason to look forward to the future and its opportunities to create new memories and experiences. I hope all my little Valentines, those grown, those still getting there, and, those yet to come, will cherish the memory of grandma in their lives and their priceless recollections and stories will be passed on from their hearts to future generations. “It is my belief that grandparenting is the most important family role of the new century.” ~ Roma Hanks, PhD. So, if you are a grandparent, be as involved in your grandchildren’s lives as your children will allow, and, if you are parents, remember to include your children’s grandparents in their lives. Afterall, isn’t that what family is really all about?