All of my life I had heard about the joys of the grandchild/grandparent relationship. As a youngster, most of my little friends in the neighborhood were always taking off for extended visits with their grandpas and grandmas and I remember feeling insanely jealous of them. The reason for this is that I never knew any of my four grandparents. They all had passed away when I was still a child and the ones that were still living in my earliest years lived so far away that I honestly do not remember visiting any of them although we may have at one point or another.

 

        The other phase of the grandchild/grandparent relationship that can be enjoyed is when we as parents, have the pleasure of watching our children with our parents. For the most part, I lost out on this experience as well as both of my parents had passed away by the time that my oldest child was still very young. (It definitely is a fair statement to say that we do not have a lot of longevity in our family regarding length of years on this earth). Because of this history of mine of never having the opportunity to enjoy any aspect of grandparenthood whatsoever, I am bound and determined to make the most of my one last shot that I have left to enjoy it. This last phase of course is me as the grandparent and what a wonderful ride it has been so far! My grandbabies call me “Mimi” and they call my husband “Pop”.   Although I always promised myself that I would not become one of those incredibly obnoxious grandparents who is forever pulling pictures out of their wallet and boring others with tales of their perfect grandchildren, I have to admit that I not only have morphed into this, but I could be the poster child for them. So could my husband. It is amazing the lengths he has gone to make these little people in his life happy. He has bought and assembled an electric jeep that puts some full sized cars to shame, he has bought and assembled a kitchen set, a wooden toy tool bench , and countless small toys and all of these projects by the way are in our home. That’s right…even though we are coming up on the empty nest this year, our home is on “round two “ of baby equipment and accessories. Oh yes, we again have a crib, a highchair, a swing , a walker, and a baby entertainment center in our home and I wouldn’t want it any other way. The one purchase however that clearly tells the tale that grandkids reign is the new swimming pool out back. For years, I bugged my husband about putting one in…I used every argument in the book. I pleaded and whined all to no avail. Then one day as I was watching him slave over the assembling of the jeep, the light bulb went on. I casually said “ You know, I think if we had a pool out back, the grandkids might be around here a lot more growing up.” He didn’t say a word but just stared at me. The next day as I was sitting in the family room reading a book , I was startled by a pool brochure landing on my lap. My husband had just walked by and tossed it there and said “Start taking a look at this and tell me what you think.” Bingo- I hit the jackpot! I have discovered the all powerful weapon of winning him over…simply appeal to his “Pop” heart!  Ha.  We simply get incredible joy out of hanging out with our grandkids. To us they are just the funniest, most interesting, most gorgeous, most rewarding people on earth and I sincerely mean that… I told you that I was overbearingly obnoxious. I also suppose that I am writing about them today because my two oldest grands who are three and five years old just spent the last twenty-four hours at our home. Only about twelve of those hours were waking hours, but we still managed to do a whole lot of laughing and living in that short time frame. They arrived yesterday at around 1pm and left at around 8 am this morning. Yesterday, they, along with our newest grandbaby who is nine months old, swam together with me in our pool. We then played about ten different games when we came inside after swimming, we wrestled, we tickled , we hit Chuckie Cheese’s, ran for the car like crazy nuts in the thunderstorm, had moose tracks icecream when we came home and then played a bunch more until it was sadly, bedtime. Bedtime is still sort of fun though because Trent always sleeps on his superman sheets, Nicole always sleeps on her Sesame Street sheets and they camp out on the floor of Pop and Mimi’s bedroom. That is always fun because the next morning they get to pounce on Pop and Mimi when we are still asleep….it beats any alarm clock one can buy! I could literally fill up ten pages with all of our activities and fun but that I will spare you. I also played pat-a-cake, pop goes the wiesel with blue eyed little Ben who is the youngest of our grands. I won't elaborate any more but  I think you get the picture though…our grandbabies are sheer joy, all positive , just no negatives at all about them.

 

           What is very intriguing to me is that I am sure that my own children, when they were small were also fun, interesting , adorable and everything that my grandchildren are however we simply did not have the luxury of noticing these great qualities in the same way. Do not get me wrong…I thoroughly enjoyed our kids while they were growing up but in a different way.This is because as parents we are responsible for all the work and effort that is involved as well with our kids. I mean let’s face it, we can sit down and play Candyland with our kids but our minds are on what needs to be cooked for dinner, how much homework they have, what time we need to leave the house for soccer practice and still get home and get ready for the piano recital. As parents, we are trying to enjoy our kids in the midst of building careers, buying homes, doing carpools, making ends meet, and grounding kids for doing goofy kid like behaviors.  We are administering discipline, helping with Science projects, running along first time bicycle riders who have no training wheels and cleaning crayon marks off of walls. We tend to be not as patient nor do we take the time to explain things. This truth was brought home to me last year as I was walking into a building with my four year old grandson. He and I happened to walk over a grate which stopped him dead in his tracks. He is a very inquisitive little guy who loves to know the hows and whys of everything. He just stood there peering down through the metal grate and said “Mimi, what is this?”  I stopped, thinking his curiosity was just so fabulous, so cute, just such an intelligent part of him. I stooped down with him and spent about five minutes peering through the grate, explaining in great detail the uses and purpose of why the grate was necessary (which by the way I was most likely completely off base about but it sounded good.) He however, being four was quite satisfied with my explanation and as we walked hand in hand away from the grate and into the building, I found myself chuckling. I was amused because I couldn’t help but remember how different my reaction might have been some twenty to twenty-five years ago if I had been walking with my own boys at that age and they had asked the same question. Because I was often in a rush and on a schedule, I recall many times them asking some inquisitive question similar to my grandson’s and me barely glancing at the object in question. I would continue walking and say something like “I am not totally sure what that is for, but don’t worry about it…we’re in a hurry right now.” As a young frazzled mom I simply did not always have the time or possess the patience that I am afforded now at this point in my life. I was so steeped in the work and responsibility of parenting that I am sure I sometimes missed the enjoyment that I could have derived from just their simple innocent questions. That thought really lingered with me that day.

 

           The challenge then for parents is to really attempt to slow down and take an interest in even the little things even though it is understandably hard to do at times.  The challenge for us grandparents does not even exist. I am serious when I say that.  My husband’s role as “Pop” and my role as “Mimi” are quite simply totally win/win roles. There is absolutely not one negative or downside about it. We get to have all the fun, all the enjoyment and then just when we start to get a bit worn out, we get to hand those precious little people back to their moms and dads with a hug and a kiss and say “good bye”. Our pastor says that the best thing about being a grandparent is seeing those head llights coming into your driveway and then seeing the tail lights leaving your driveway and how true that statement is! We have a rootin-tootin good time and then get to enjoy quiet and rest. Yes, it is most definitely a good deal!

 

           I remember when my sons were married but did not yet have children. When we would go to their homes to visit them and their wives, I would look forward so much to seeing them, giving them big hugs and sitting down and hearing about what is going on in their lives. Two of my three sons who now have kids tell me that now when I arrive at their homes, I do not even see them, that I walk right by them, pushing them out of the way . They tell me that when they say “ Hi mom, how are ya?” that I shove them out of the way saying “Yeah, yeah, blah , blah , blah, where are the really important people that I came to see ?”  That is a bit of exaggeration I think, but they get their point across and do you know what?...they are exactly right!   Ha …. Grandkids….just nobody like them!