John Dickerson (CBS This Morning co-host) asked John Prine, Americaan singer-songwriter, “At 22, 21, writing stories about an old woman, where was that coming from?” Prine said, “Growing up, I was real close to grandparents on both sides, they just treated me like I was something off a Christmas tree.”
As a grandparent of seven, I was touched by his statement. Isn’t it grand to think, as grandparents, we have the opportunity to powerfully influence the little people we love so deeply?
Imagine our words, examples, and behavior helping our grandchildren believe they could attack their dreams with the skills and tenacity needed to succeed. What a privilege to teach them they are treasured and beautiful like the ornaments we recently packed away.
When I was a kid, I was lucky to have two grandma’s, one grandpa, one step- grandpa and one great grandma. My children were more fortunate because they not only inherited my grandparents, but they had two additional grandmas, two grandpas, and two great grandmas of their own. No wonder all three grew-up to give us proud bragging moments; they had grandparents who “…just treated them like they were something off a Christmas tree.”
My grandmother Goble was a tough woman by necessity, who raised 11 children, eight being boys. My grandma Compton was a sweet lady. She raised ten children, five girls, and five boys. Even though a single parent for many years, she always had a smile and gave us the freedom to be kids.
As an educator, encouraging my grandkids to have full thoughts and critical thinking is natural. One grandson said, “Grandma, when I’m with you I always learn about things I never think about.” Not sure it was intended, but I took it as a compliment. Nothing touches me more than my four-year-old hugging my legs and looking up with huge blue eyes, saying, in his quiet, sweet voice, “Hi, Gramma Jennifer.”
I take each grandchild on a trip when they’re 13; a one-on-one vacation. One grandpa teases them. Another takes them four-wheeling. One grandpa fixes what breaks, one grandma is fun and readily available, and another grandma always has homemade cookies.
At funerals, I’ve heard grandkids remember Grandpa because he always had candy in his pocket. Another talked of going fishing with his grandpa, not to fish, but just as an excuse to be together. Another said he always ruffled his grandpas bald head. One said grandma listened, and another loved grandma’s garden.
Whatever type of grandparent you are, or will become, know you are essential. In my perfect world, each child would believe “…they were something off a Christmas tree,” and as grandparents, we hold the magic key.
Today, and every day, celebrate GRAND-parenting — the frosting on your life and theirs.
Until the next time: Live while you live.
Jennifer Goble, Ph.D., LPC, is the author of “My Clients…My Teachers,” and the blogger and writer of Rural Women Stories: www.ruralwomenstories.com.
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