Somewhere in the hall of fame for strange critters, the grandparent must have a place. He or she feels responsible for the little darlins while enjoying the realization that the situation is generally temporary. The hall of fame has several categories of grandparents; so for the edification of those who have yet to experience one of life’s final ironies, the following enumeration of their characteristics is offered.
The all-permissive grandparent may be either male or female, but the entire idea behind being permissive is to allow the grandchild/ren to go home and tell the parents that ANYTHING is permissible at Granddad’s or Grandmother’s house. Candy, late hours, bouncing on the bed in the back bedroom, coffee in the morning with the grandparents, just about anything not allowed at home is allowed by these grandparents. We won’t go into the reasoning behind this kind of grandparenting because some mothers and fathers feel that an insidious—if not vicious—delight is expressed when their children are allowed non-standard child fare or activities.
The “we will buy it for you” grandparents may be about the most dangerous type in existence. Children who inherit this type of grandparent will have considerable difficulty in learning to value doing things the hard way or earning their own treasures. Parents who must deal with the grandparents must find a way to manage their frustrations and their children at the same time. Only if the grandparents can be persuaded to invest in long-term values like education or real properties will the goodness of their intentions have worth to the grandchildren or parents.
The most blessed children are those who have grandparents who will share their stories of growing up and a history of their own family. Children don’t see themselves as their parents do, so a grandparent’s memories can shed insight upon both the child and the grandchild when traditions are involved. The story about the daughter asking her mom why she always cut the roast edges off before putting it all in the pan illustrates one of the funnier traditions. The mother couldn’t tell her daughter why she cut the roast up in that way except that she always had seen HER mother do it that way. The mother called the great grandmother and asked her why she cut the roast up before putting it in the pot. The answer was simple: HER pot was not big enough for the full roast to spread out.
Our parents knew us as children. Their memories bear repeating for all concerned. We had grandchildren before we ever heard of the term ADHD, but now we understand why our parents thought their children were scatter-brained and never still. And believe it or not, we were well-behaved, good children. But the world we lived in had very little resemblance to that of today. We rode real bikes with one speed—whatever our legs would pump up. We rode all over town without our mom worrying about us. The neighbors all knew us and had us run errands for them. Our toys included hop toads, horny toads, grass lizards, and June bugs. We played in the rain, got muddy, got dirty, got hot, and got cold with the seasons. And all the time we had parents and grandparents who loved us and cheered us on. We were so blessed to have both.
If a child has even one grandparent, a certain amount of history will come out about the child’s parent. But the best part about having any kind of grandparent is seeing the continuity of life in a family, from one generation to the next, with love.