Sunday, June 1, 2014

A 'grand' revelation

I had a brief look into the future the other day.
No, I was not magically tele-ported to see my future self as the ruler of a tropical island complete with doting servants and pet tigers with diamond-incrusted collars. 
This future echo was probably a lot closer to reality.
My niece, her hubby and their children came for a visit a couple weeks ago.
Like many people who live in a beautiful, sunny area surrounded by lakes, a weekend often means visitors and my home became a temporary station for a clan that included a trio of ankle biters.
The oldest two of the this blended family are around six years old, with the youngest barely past one – meaning they don't visit, they invade.
With six extra people descending upon my humble home (my mother-in-law made No. 6, yay) things got a little chaotic.
My great nieces and nephew are all well behaved and were a joy to be around. They had a great time playing with my kid's old toys, jumping on the trampoline, blowing bubbles and in general exploring a new part of the world.
After watching them for a while, I realized where the term perpetual motion came from. They never stopped running, jumping, playing, talking or moving the entire time they were at my house.
And for some reason, little boys need to yell in just about every situation.
Playing a game on the trampoline – yelling. Blowing bubbles and then chasing them around the backyard – yelling. Wrestling – yelling. Running – yelling.
Often they were not even words, but making noise just because that is what boys at that age do.
I had to work one of the days they were visiting and of course it was busy and frantic and all I wanted to do at the end of the day was kick back on the deck with an adult recreational beverage and let the stress melt away.
Or, I could blow bubbles, play the chase-me game and watch the kids do amazing tricks on the trampoline – like jump up an down.
All of which I did and it was a pleasure doing so.
The beauty of this situation was, once I was tired of playing I simply turned the children back over to their parents and zeroed in on that chair. That is not something you can do when it is your own children.
And if the visiting one year old had a special surprise in her diaper, it's not my problem. When they are emitting an odour a skunk would find offensive, time to hand them back to mom or dad.
It was at that moment it hit me: that is what my parents did with my kids.
That is what grandparenting is about (hence the look into the future.) You went through the challenges of raising your own kids and perhaps were not able to fully appreciate the magic a child can bring into a home.
You are too busy taking care of them, disciplining them, cleaning up after them and sometimes you forget to enjoy them.
But as a grandparent, that is your main job. 
I saw a poster once that said 'Grandchildren are your reward for not strangling your kids when they were teenagers.'
While I found it somewhat humorous when I first read it, it was not until the visit with my niece I understood what it meant.
It is the grandparent's job to spoil their grandchildren – which explains why my dad fed my son Reeces Peanut Butter Cups for breakfast one day.
"Dad, did you just give Junior chocolate for breakfast?”
"Um, er, ah, maybe. But it has peanut butter in it, and milk products so essentially it was very close to peanut butter and toast and a glass of milk. Nothing wrong with that for breakfast.”
Good one, Pops.
While I am likely still looking at a few years before I become a grandparent, I now have a much better understanding of the role: annoy your children, by spoiling your grandchildren. Sounds like fun.

copyright 2014, Darren Handschuh 

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