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New Harmony: Teaching the legacy of the long view

Published: Wednesday, May 1 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

Kids today don’t need more information. They’re awash in it. What they need is a context for the information they already have. They need to learn how to think about what they know. And that’s where we grandparents come in.

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May 1 is the birthday of our twin grandchildren, Kylie and Luke.

They’re having a "Star Wars" party on May 4 (You know: “May the fourth” be with you).

The last time I tended the twins, Kylie slipped off, got her dad’s iPad, clicked it on and — in that little brushing motion that 3-year-olds have somehow mastered, she brushed up a video game, played it, and put everything away before I was the wiser.

I knew then if I was going to help her, I could never catch up to her and help in her world.

I would have to help her from my own.

Luckily, that’s just what the younger generation needs.

Kids today don’t need more information. They’re awash in it.

What they need is a context for the information they already have.

They need to learn how to think about what they know.

And that’s where we grandparents come in.

I’m convinced it’s our job to help them see the long view, to see the big picture behind it all.

It’s our job to show them they are a part of something much grander and far-reaching than their own individual lives.

In a priesthood quorum discussion last Sunday, we talked about sharing personal stories and keepsakes from our ancestors with our grandkids.

They need to see that they are part of a legacy; that they are one brick in a majestic palace.

After the discussion, one brother suggested we all put photographs of our great-grandparents on display and refer to them from time to time.

I liked that.

And I like the idea of showing our grandkids where things come from — where we get eggs, fresh water, milk and wood.

We need to help our grandkids make connections — connections with nouns, with "people, places and things."

We need to connect them to the outdoors — through sports, hikes, yard work and gardening.

The more “big picture” things we can do with them, the more balance they’ll feel when small things push them around.

The more we can show them the “long view,” the more they’ll see a continuity to life — the more they’ll see their lives as a pearl on a strand of pearls.

But it takes patience.

Lots of patience.

I shared a story with the others on Sunday that my brother told me.

Seems an old grandpa and his 4-year-old grandson were at the check-out line at the supermarket. And the little boy was pitching a fit. But the grandfather kept talking in gentle tones.

“Hang in there, Roger,” he said. “We’ll be home soon. Just be calm, Roger.”

When they got to the counter, the checker complimented the old man.

“I have to say how impressed I am at your patience with your grandson, Roger,” she said.

The old man blinked at her.

“Oh, no,” he said. “He’s not Roger. I’m Roger.”

Needless to say, the story drew out a laugh.

As grandparents, we’ve all been there.

The trick is to not shy away from going there again.

And when we are there, to teach the big picture, the long view.

In short, teach the legacy of living.

Email: jerjohn@desnews.com

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