Everyone has heard of the Grammy Awards that honor musicians and are presented annually. Well, I may be just a little prejudiced, but I think that they ought to have the “Grammie” (and “Grampy”) awards, too. Each September there is a day set aside as Grandparent’s Day and most of the time that day gets overshadowed by, well, just life. It’s not usually a big deal.
This year when that day rolled around, I was thinking “just how big of role do grandparents play in their grandkids’ lives?” Sadly, there are more and more cases where grandparents become the guardians and raise their grandkids for a multitude of reasons. Their roles change to being the parents in these cases and these situations become a whole new ballgame.
Nope, I’m talking about being just a plain grandparent and what that means. With that thought in mind, there is no better time than the present to write an “open” letter to grandkids. I hope that I speak for most grandparents when I say that these are my hopes for my grandkids:
1. When you think back on our times together, remember that the time spent with you is because I wanted to be with you, not because I had to. It’s a parent’s “job” to drive you to a sporting practice, to take you school clothes shopping, and to do a host of other things that parents do. We grandparents have the privilege of picking and choosing. When we ask you to go somewhere, it is because we really enjoy spending time with you. We also know that when you get tired, upset, or cranky and become temporarily pretty much a pain-in-the-you-know-what we can take you home.
2. Yes, most of us give you money for Christmas and birthdays just because that is what we do. It’s kind of like our easy way out; we will gladly take you shopping later but we don’t have to try and decide what the latest thing is that you want. Believe me, that is huge for us! Now, in between birthdays and holidays, we give you money because we remember how it was when we were kids. We love you so much that we want you to have things and have life easier than we did. But, we have to be really careful here; we have made our way in life and we CAN give you money and we WANT to give you money because it makes us smile to see you happy. But we also want you to be responsible adults and sometimes that means letting you earn money yourselves because we know that you will eventually appreciate things much more when you earn them yourselves. So, on that note, we have figured out that if we ask you to help us with some things (things that we could probably do ourselves) and pay you for these, you not only feel better about yourself but we get to spend time with you at the same time. It’s a pretty sweet deal for both of us.
3. You are our pride and joy. Sadly, we were too busy parenting and disciplining our own kids to really enjoy them like we enjoy you. We are also a little selfish. We believe that everything that you do is a reflection of ourselves. When you hit the home run, when you have the solo at the band concert, when you make the honor roll, we can’t help it but to stand up and beam “That’s my grandson (granddaughter)!” Even though we know sometimes we embarrass you in front of your friends (what were we thinking!), you also need to remember that we are just as proud of you when you strike out, when you play off-key, or when you get a D in math because we know you did the best that you could and that is all we will ever ask from you. We will always love you and it doesn’t depend on how well or poorly you perform. We’re funny, our love for you is unconditional like that.
4. When we do have the “come to Jesus” talks with you, that is another way we love you. Believe me, we don’t like them any more than you do; we are into fun, but sometimes the talks just need to happen to help you make the right choices and do the right thing. Even though we know in our hearts that you have to make mistakes on your own, we still want you to skip the heartaches of some of these trials. We want you to be the best that you can be and it is hard for us to step out of the way and let you do it on your own. Bear with us on this one.
5. Here’s the tough one. We loved all the cute things you did when you were little — your first steps, your first words, your first day of school. Yes, you did charm us and continue to do so. That is why when you hit these unthinkable teenage years it is so hard on us. Oh, we do want you to grow up into a fine adult, but we want you to do it and still be our sweet little child. We want it all. There are a few magical years during these teenage years where you are not a child and yet not an adult, even though you think you are the latter. Believe it or not, we do remember what it is like and it is not a good place to be. Your life is so full that you really don’t have time for us right now. You pretty much think that your parents, grandparents and any other adult just doesn’t know anything anymore. This breaks our hearts because we think we have lost you forever and wonder what we have done wrong. It’s a pretty sad time for us, even though we know that if we can survive your teenage years, you will eventually be back. Just try to remember that, hard as it is for you to visualize, we were teenagers once too and we did live through it to become responsible adults.
6. OK, for the final part, pamper us just a little bit. Even though you are busy and have so much going on around you, the only thing that we want is to still be a part of your life. Don’t forget to let us know when things are going on in your life, we love to be there. Texts don’t take very long and yes, most of us do text. It was probably you who taught us how to. “I love you” or “Miss you” only takes a couple seconds to send but means the world to us. As a matter of fact, we will probably have it in our saved messages forever so we can re-read it over and over until you get through your teenage years.
Yes, we grandparents don’t want much from you. Our Grammie or Grampy award is as simple as just being part of your life. By the way, you may want to hold on to this column because in another 40 years you will probably want to hand it to your grandkids when you are a Grammie or Grampy. Some things never change.