Tuesday, October 2, 2012

On Being Awesome Grandparents

I've heard older folks say more than once that "Being a grandparent is the best thing ever. I can love and spoil my grand kids for short time and then when they are tired or wild or ornery, I can give them back to their parents to manage!" 

Humph. Hardly seems fair. But, after watching my parents do the grand parenting thing nonstop this past weekend, I've decided that being a grandparent isn't that easy after all.

After this weekend, I've decided that to qualify as an Awesome Grandparent, you must:

1. Be willing to drive for 13 hours so you can spend time with your grand kids. You must anticipate and delight in little ones greeting you with intense excitement and energy as you pull into the driveway. You cannot show fatigue and you must engage in baseball, football, bike rides, and endless rounds of checkers. Immediately. No potty break and no unpacking your suitcase. Your arrival means it's time to play - stat! 
2. Be willing to sit on the floor for several rounds of change-the-rules-as-you-go of Old Maid and Go Fish. Your back may ache and your body may be tired (remember that 13 hour drive?) but you must continue to laugh and play and show focused interest on the little people around you.
3. Be willing to play Uno, even when there are little people tears, little people tantrums, and little people wails of "This game isn't faaaaair!" Then, when several rounds have been played and you think it's time to move on to something else, you must be genuinely excited to deal out another seven or eight rounds of the same (boring to you but thrilling to them) game.
4. Be willing to purchase supplies for science experiments that your daughter swears she cannot find in her hometown, bring them with you on your 13 hour drive, and enthusiastically assist your little ones in concocting crazy solutions that should result in growing crystals on cardboard trees. You will smile, you will ooh and ahh, you will ask questions, and you will be interested.
5. Be willing to dish out an endless supply of Teddy Grahams and fruit snacks to your littlest one so that she stays in your lap while you attempt to watch her older brothers play soccer. You came to watch your older ones play, but because of the wiggly and demanding nature of your littlest one, you are happy to miss most of the action so that you can manage the squirmer and ensure her mother doesn't have to hold her.
6. Be willing to look at books and journals and notebooks of school work, papers, and projects. You must ask lots of questions, pretend you can read little people scribbles, acknowledge that your little ones are indeed the smartest kids you ever knew (except for their mother) and say again and again how proud of them you are.
7. Be willing to sing to and celebrate your sometimes-darling and almost-always-feisty littlest one. You will take lots and lots of pictures. You will shed a tear or two that time has flown by and your little baby is already two. You will think she is cute and you will be tempted to let her have and do most anything she wants. (This, however, is when her parents intervene and remind you that giving in to this temptation will take away some of the awesomeness of your grandparent status.)
8. Be willing to purchase, sew, and wrap lots of frilly and girly gifts and lug them down on your 13 hour drive. You will be so focused on not wanting to forget any of her precious treasures and will pack them a day or two in advance. You will help her put on her new dress up clothes, insert batteries, cut packages, and even cradle and feed her new dollies.
9. Be willing to swaddle baby dolls again and again. And again and again. Be willing to dress baby dolls again and again. And again and again.
10. Be willing to play checkers again and again. And again and again. You will stifle yawns and will suggest numerous other things to do, but will comply to the persistent, "Please Grandpa!" from your grandsons.
11. Be willing to turn a rainy day into a fun day by playing Yahtzee and Trouble and Sorry and Uno and Memory and Battleship. Your mind will likely be numb (along with your hind end from sitting on the floor for so long) but you will carry on with a smile and energy that you didn't know you had.
12. Be willing to accept lots of hugs and kisses, even when they are a bit slobbery. This will be easy for you because you only get them a handful of times during the year. Therefore, whenever any of your little ones ask to sit on your lap, hold your hand, or give you a hug, you will immediately stop whatever else you may be doing and give a hearty yes!
14. Be willing to play dress up. Dress up meaning that you wrangle little legs into dresses and tutus so that five minutes later you can take it off and do it again. This, of course, is darling to you and merits a lot of pictures and videos and laughs.
15. Be willing to read books - anytime and anywhere. The couch, the floor, the kitchen table, the car. It won't matter where and it won't matter what book, as long as you are with your little one enjoying some one-on-one time together.
16. Be willing to be tender and doting to little girls. You will give hugs and put on shoes and try to clip in hair bows. You will call her dresses pretty and her smile beautiful. You will tear up when she hugs you tight and says your name.
17. Be willing to look for clams, throw stones, wade in water, catch bugs and do anything else that little boys find fascinating. To be prepared, you will always have play clothes and sneakers. You won't bat an eye over mud on your pants or wind-blown hair because you'll be too focused on playing with your little men.
18. Be willing to hunt for stones and acorns and other treasures to collect. Being outside and exploring in fresh air will always be a fun adventure and you'll be happy to do it - if that means the local park, the backyard woods, or the neighborhood walking trail.
19. Be willing to hold tiny hands to keep little ones from falling into water, even when those little ones whine and try to pull away. You're happy to hold soggy bread and break it into small pieces so your little one can throw it in the water and feed the fish.
20. Be willing to learn and listen and watch with your little ones, and offer an insight or two along the way. You're always ready to teach and share wisdom, but are never eager to boast about it or force it onto them. You want to be interested in their interests but are intentional about showing them new things to be interested in as well.
21. Be willing to take your little ones out to eat and treat them to whatever they want on the menu. You are patient with their antics and noise levels despite being in a restaurant. Then, with a full belly, you're still excited to turn around and roast marshmallows and crack peanuts simply because your little ones said they want to do it with you before you have to go home.
22. Be willing to love and cuddle and hold your little ones. This will be, likely, one of the easiest things for you to do and will come naturally. You won't have to try to want to do this because you will strongly desire and hope for as many chances as possible to do this. You are thankful for your time with your little ones and will store up the conversations and the memories in your heart to help carry you through until you make the 13 hour drive to come and visit again.
This list is certainly not all-encompassing, but I assure you that if you can master these things you are, in fact, an Awesome Grandparent.


  1. Loved your post!! So thankful for wonderful grandparents. I think your mom gets more beautiful every time I see photos of her. I love the photos of Ana laying on Grandma and hugging her - too precious. Happy Birthday, by the way to the sweet birthday girl!

  2. Aww...your parents ROCK!!! It looks like y'all had a GREAT time!!!

  3. Wow! what great examples my precious brother and sister-in-law are!! I have a few years till I will be a grandparent and I want to be able to be a part of their lives and I just hope I have the energy to keep up with them. What a great reward for raising your own children....grandchildren!! Gotta love it.

  4. Great post and great photos. You all are so blessed.