I always thought I was a good mom. I attended every teacher/parent conference; endured freezing cold, blistering hot, and life-threatening thunderstorms just to watch soccer/baseball games; stayed up all hours of the night finishing last-minute (they said) homework projects; and did all other ups and downs a parent is supposed to do. I adored my kids (still do), and there’s not much I wouldn’t do for them. But I find that is nothing compared to what I wouldn’t do for my grandson.
Is there a difference between being a parent and being a grandparent? Both are concerned for their welfare; both want to teach them right from wrong, see them go to college, fall in love and marry (if that’s what they want), and produce many children/great grandchildren.
Why does it feel so different the second time around?
I am my kid’s worst nightmare. A granny with an unending source of patience and love and fun ideas. I am willing to go where no parent has gone before.
I laugh because I see my husband and I becoming my in-laws. When my youngest was born, it was a struggle to let them take him for a night or a weekend. After all, they were crazy! They wanted to take my oldest to Kiddyland when he was barely two. My second was taken when he was not even a year old. They made me crazy! They wanted my kids all the time — every chance they could. They took them to ranches and the restaurants that did stir fry on a table in front of them, and to Disneyworld and fishing up North. They stayed up late, played games and dug in the garden with their hands and taught them to play pinochle when they both were nine. Who does that?
I am embarrassed now to admit I took offense at their unbridled desire to spoil my two kids. I was jealous of grandparents and aunties who had more free time and free money than I did. My grandparents died when I was young, so I had no idea what the grandparent “thing” was all about. My husband was very close with his grandparents, and reassured me that my kids would always be my kids.
Now I find myself repeating the actions, emotions, and enthusiasm of my in-laws. My grandson is three years old, and I find myself tripping over my feet to be with him. We learned to splash in puddles, fight with swords, and flip all the light switches in the house. I give him sips of the dreaded “Coca Cola”, slip him M&Ms, and dance in the rain whenever the opportunity shows itself. I want to buy him a whole wardrobe, take him to the zoo, and let him climb all over my dogs. And Disneyworld? If my kids take him they better book a room for granny too!
Being a grandparent is like getting a second lease on life. It is the ultimate in anarchy and love. Our grandkids are our doorway to finding our inner child. We do and say things that we can’t always do and say in the outside world. We keep their secrets, boost their fragile egos, and share tales of faeries, hunting, and family histories. We show them the magic in the world without having to explain the physics of such.
There is a place for both parents and grandparents in this world. More people should open their arms and embrace both for the future children of the world. What harm is there in spoiling future generations? Our added attention won’t help them find a job or cure their diseases. But perhaps our crazy affection will encourage them to show affection towards others. Maybe our taking them to the park will encourage them to make time for their own kids. Maybe our blind devotion will give them strength to believe in the goodness of others in the world.
It’s a wonderful world we live in. Grandparents – step off the path. Keep it legal, keep it moral, but have fun. Take your grand kids to the movies or to an outdoor concert. Stay up late, dance to rock and roll in the living room, and look for elves in the woods. Teach them how to fish or sing songs Your grandkids will love you for it. And, if you’re lucky enough, they’ll never forget you for it.
I can’t say the same for your kids, though…