I love spending time with my grandchildren, I think most of us who are blessed with them feel that way. There’s something special about the relationship between a grandparent and grandchild that goes way beyond just the familiar connection.
When speaking with perspective grandparents I may have been overheard saying “grandchildren are the reason to have lot of children”. Don’t get me wrong, I love my children and I love being a parent. Being a grandparent is not better than being a parent, just different.
I got a chance to visit with some of my grandchildren last week. First time face to face in 6 months. It was joyous. Nothing can make an old man forget his age faster than playing with his grandchildren. Age doesn’t matter, I can morph to be just as interesting to a 2-year-old as I am to a 7-year-old. I’m sure I look pretty immature (almost senile) crawling around on the floor or imitating the voices of Star Wars characters (I do a mean Wookie). At the end of the day I was tired but at least 10 years younger. Puts a smile on my face and joy in my heart that just won’t go away.
I’m reading a book right now on how the brain works and how you can positively affect your well being through attitude and getting in touch with the better part of your behavior. It got me thinking about the relationship with my grandchildren and why it brings so much joy and happiness into my life (I like to think the kids get a lot out of it too). Some people would say it’s because you get all the fun and none of the responsibility (spoil them and then send them home). I’ll buy half of that (being fun) but I don’t buy the lack of responsibility for what you teach them. I believe grandparents at times can have a reinforcing and sometimes stronger teaching impact than parents. Some might say it allows you a “do over” for the mistakes you might have made with your own children. There may be some truth to that but these are different children in different times and parenting changes with the generations. Besides, they have a set of parents who have their own approach and the last thing I would want to do is undermine what that is.
For me, I think it is something else. I think it brings out the child in me. It takes me back to memories of younger days when I had no responsibilities except to live in the moment and enjoy the days with my friends and family. The brain book says that all memories are tagged with feelings. My memories of childhood are tied to feelings of freedom, safety, happiness and love. I get many of those same feelings when I’m spending time with the grandchildren. They bring out the child within and reconnect me with my past.
I wasn’t fortunate enough to have lots of grandparents, I only had one by the time was 1 year old so I don’t think this is necessarily something you learn. I think this is more about letting yourself go, not being afraid to look a bit silly at times, remembering what made you happy when you were young and looking for opportunities to create those same happy, safe and loved memories for the grandchildren that will last a lifetime for them. There’s a child in all of us, we just have to let them out now and then. For me, the grandchildren are the key.