The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Grandparents Day September 7

By Susan M. Thigpen © 1986

Issue: September, 1986

You know you've joined the Grandparents Union when...

1. You start stocking up on foods you don't even like, but happen to be the grandchildren's favorites, just in case they might drop by.

2. You buy another toy when you know they already have more than they can play with.

3. When no matter what you planned to do, you drop it to babysit.

4. You buy every small cute t-shirt you see that says "My Grandma Loves Me" or something to that effect.

5. When you have to get a bigger wallet to carry photographs of the grandchildren. This is usually perfectly justified because the old one is completely worn out from opening it so many times to show the photographs to anyone who will look (including perfect strangers).

6. When you're positive there has never been a cuter, more intelligent child in the whole world (and all the child has done is learn how to say Grandma or Grandpa).

Sound familiar?

The most wonderful joy that can be found on earth for a child is Grandparents. They can dish out generous portions of love better than anyone else ever will. They have the most comfortable, comforting laps in the whole world.

I didn't realize how privileged I was to grow up knowing both sets of my grandparents until I reached adulthood and began talking to people whose grandparents had died before they were born or before they could remember them. All of a sudden it dawned on me, "What would childhood have been like without Grandparents?" I immediately felt sorry for those people who would never know what they missed.

Just as we grow and change from childhood to adults, there must also be a period when parents make the change to grandparents. The patience that tended to run short with our children seems to have lengthened considerably with our grandchildren. The time we couldn't seem to spare for our children seems to become a priority with our grandchildren. It's absolutely illogical, but things that were irritating when our children were young now become "cute" when the grandchildren do them. If a nickel had been collected every time our children said, "You never let me do that (or get away with that) when I was little," it would probably be enough to pay off the national debt.

I am at a point in my life that I have experienced all three stages - a child feeling the warmth of Grandparent's love.

A parent coping with Grandparent's indulgent spoiling of my children.

And last of all, being a Grandparent myself. The whole picture is in perspective and this is what I see...

My message to children would be this - Enjoy your grandparents every minute you can be with them. They will love you like you will never be loved again and they can teach you valuable lessons that will help you the rest of your life.

My message to parents would be - Have patience. What seems like spoiling children by grandparents has done no harm as far as I can tell, and upsetting a child's routine once in a while, having another ice cream cone, a few extra cookies, is not going to ruin a child's chance for becoming a mentally and physically competent adult. Relax. Let your children and your parents enjoy their special relationship.

My message to my fellow grandparents is this – When we look at our grandchildren, we tend to see our own children when they were small. We see how fast the years have flown by and it seem as if those grandchildren are a gift to us, a second chance for all we could have or might have done for our own when they were little. When our children were little, we couldn't wait to see them walk, talk and so on. When grandchildren come, we can look back and see how precious those early years were and how fast they were over. This time we savor just holding them or watching them play. We drink it in and are thankful for a chance to experience it again. We know we really shouldn't spoil their appetite with the cookies and ice cream, but find it next to impossible to deny this little miracle anything.

To everyone out there like me, whose grandparents are no longer with us, take a few moments to think of the memories of the good times you shared. Don't be sad because they are no more, be happy you have those memories. Many people don't have that.

To every Grandparent out there, Happy Grandparents Day. You deserve the recognition of having your own day. You are the most special people in the whole world.

A grandparent has the advantage of hind sight. The next highest view would have to be heaven. And how much closer can you get than looking at a grandchild?