In Praise of Grandparents

Grandparent's Day isn't until September (the Sunday after Labor Day), but it's never too early to sing their praises.  Grandparents have a mystical quality about them.  (Or at least they do in this mind.)  While my maternal grandparents were the babysitting kind, my paternal grandmother was more adventuresome.  I could rely on my maternal grandparents for nurturing and support.  My paternal grandmother was the one who would take me (and my brother) places (at least when we were younger).  As an adult, I can now more fully appreciate their gifts. (And I'm not talking about the kind that come wrapped with a ribbon, although both sets did present me with memorable treasures.)

However, the grandparents I want to praise in this post are not mine, but my son's.  Of course I love my parents and my in-laws, but as "good" as they are (and have been amazing in that capacity), it is as grandparents that I see them shine.  Something happened to them the day they met their grandson.  I don't say that lightly.  They were transformed in a truly wondrous way.  As a result I realize that grandparent is not just a title or a way of life, but a true transformation of heart and soul.

The existence of my son would not be possible without both sets of grandparents.  I don't mean that in the "conventional" way.  When "traditional" methods of starting a family did not pan out, we asked the would be grandparents if they would be willing to "finance" a grandchild. They did not back away, and trust me, adoption is not an inexpensive option.  It can be a rocky and uneven road.  Uncertainty is the norm and the chance of disappointment is high. Yet, they opened their wallets freely and with no reservations as we made our way down the path to having our son.  And then they went even further...

Two months (give or take) before my son's birth, my in-laws along with my husband went on a Babies R Us shopping spree while I was at work.  When I returned home that evening my husband presented me with a plethora of goodies, some of which I had registered for, but plenty more that I had not (or not even considered).  There was the car seat, the stroller, the pack and play (which would actually be my son's crib for the first month or so of his life), clothing, bottles and so much more.

The day after our son was born, there was a "glitch" that required additional funds to be wired to the attorney.  A (somewhat frantic) phone call to my father and it was taken care of.  Because of my father, we did not have to worry about financial matters, we only had to focus on our baby boy.

But finances are just a small part of why I am so grateful for my son's grandparents. Their presence in my son's life has enhanced it in a multitude of ways.   Ways that I am sure he is not aware of and probably does not fully appreciate now.  (But hopefully, like his parents, he will when he is grown.)

His maternal grandparents have nurtured his love of marine life.  He was always interested in creatures living in the sea (but not in swimming in the same).  He and I would spend weekends at the shore with them, and as a result his grandfather found a summer day camp devoted to marine life.  Since the age of five (and he is nearing 12 as I write this) he has spent two or more weeks each summer attending the camp.  He stays with his grandparents and after they pick him up in the early afternoon, they continue to encourage him, by letting his crab off their dock.  (Crabs are caught, observed and then returned to the lagoon from which they came.)  As he has grown, he has actually given presentations to the camp class on horse shoe crabs, octopus, etc.  The time will soon arrive when he will cease to be a camper and become a junior counselor.  (I think he already knows more than some of the younger counselors.)  Although his passion would have always been there, it is his grandparents who have fostered his growth.

His paternal grandparents have nurtured his love of history.  During spring breaks and summer vacations they have taken him on trips that are more educational than a classroom.  He has been to Washington, DC, Gettysburg, Harper's Ferry, Boston and Philadelphia.  The three of them are planning a summer trip to various Civil War battle fields.  They have immersed him in the history that he finds so fascinating.  Again, this surpasses anything he could learn in a classroom setting.  They have given him hands learning as they have visited battlefields, museums and more.

Time with both sets of his grandparents has broadened his horizons in many ways.  For now, I'm sure he just sees it as fun times with grandma and grandpa, but some day he will realize how much he learned and even more importantly, how much he is loved. They have taught him unique lessons.  They have laughed with him.  (Is there anything better than a child's laughter?  Perhaps the only thing better is to be a part of that laughter.)  They have played with him.  (And gone from times where they "let" him win to now where competition is serious and sometimes fierce in that game of dominoes).  They have talked and shared stories.  (Family history is just as important, if not more so, than "regular" history.)  They have expanded his mind AND his palate.  (He may still be a picky eater, but when he is with his grandparents he WILL try new things.  And while we do not dine out frequently, due to my food allergies, he LOVES to go out to eat with his grandparents be it at a "fancy" restaurant or the local diner.)  They have reinforced good manners, politeness and compassion.

Above all else, his grandparents have love him.  If he knows nothing else he knows this.  He knows that their love is unconditional and that he can always turn to them no matter what the situation. 

My son is blessed to have four wonderful people for grandparents.  No words or praise, written or said, will ever be able to express how much they mean to him, and to us.


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