The calendar I am using this year printed Grandparents Day on Sept. 13. Unaware, I did some research, and sure enough, it is official and has been celebrated on the Sunday after Labor Day every year since 1978.
Announcing this, I am not trying to get any recognition. My grandparenting has been fun and easy compared to many. The grandparents who raise their own grandchildren are the heroes of this day.
A group called Generations United, online at grandparentsday.org, is hoping people will “do something grand” and urges “grandparents and older adults to share their wisdom, perspectives and key civic values with young people on Grandparents Day.”
It seems not a ploy to get cards and flowers, but instead an effort to help the generations love and understand each other.
Back when I was surrounded by cookie crumbs and diapers, I would dream of more freedom and wonder if, when my five children were securely launched in life, I would have extra time to do the many things I was not finding time for then. Now that they are gone from our home, I do have that freedom because I was released from the day-to-day problems and a whole lot of laundry, cooking and driving.
However, still wanting to have a continuous relationship with my children, I have realized they will take parts of my time forever — if that is what I choose. Now that they’ve married and have children of their own, these grandchildren absorb their share of my time both emotionally and physically.
A grandparent is very important not only to link the generations together but also for the point of view they can bring to their grandchildren. Most grandparents accept children for who they are, not for what they wish they could be. Grandparents can make a grandchild feel very special.
Grandparenting is double love. You love your child and then, in turn, you love their children. When good things come about in their lives, our lives are doubly fine. When bad things happen, the old adage that we are only as happy as our saddest child comes into play, which can be very hard on our hearts.
It takes patience and practice to be a good grandparent, and it also requires digging back into our memory bank to remember how to deal with the young ones. I especially enjoy doing puzzles with them and playing board games, because there is talking and interaction, or getting their wiggles out by walking or hiking.
Teenagers live in such a different environment from when a grandparent grew up that it takes keeping up with new ideas and finding common ground with them. I once read all the Harry Potter books so I could talk about them with some of our grandchildren.
1. Don’t give unsolicited advice on how to raise their children.
2. Avoid buying your grandkids’ affection.
3. Be careful what you start out doing and giving your grandchildren because a wise grandparent should then do it for all the ones who follow them to avoid resentment.
4. Do not ignore their parents' boundaries.
Another good suggestion was to make clear what role you want to have in your grandchild’s life and to talk with your children about their rules. It really comes down to maintaining good communication.
So what is the best thing about being a grandparent? Unless you are the caretaker, it is having a choice.
For me, unlike their parents, when it gets to be too much or the trip is over, I can hand the children to them, knowing they will take good care, and find a quiet place or fly away home.