This is what I learned from one daughter and four grandchildren this week.
Lesson #1 - It’s important to ask how many jumping jacks a child can do before you say you’ll pay her for doing them. (a.k.a. Before you say yes to a grandchild’s fundraiser, get all the facts!) I told my granddaughter Charlotte I’d give her a dollar for every jumping jack she did for a fundraiser for her school. I assumed consecutive. I assumed she could do maybe 25. She is, after all, only 5. I pledged and then her mother told me: a.) Charlotte could do jumping jacks all day, and b.) The jumping jacks do not have to be consecutive.
Lesson #2 - It’s after the campaign that the real work begins. Adam, who is 8, was running for paper collector for his third grade class. He wrote a speech. He practiced it, delivered it and last week he won the election. This week he said, “Being the paper passer is way more work than I thought it would be. Mimi.” President Obama and a split Congress, take note.
Lesson #3 - Kids say the darndest things. My granddaughter Lucy has trouble articulating. It comes with low muscle tone that comes with Down syndrome. But clear as a bell, this little nine-year-old now shouts as she’s getting dressed in the morning, “I CAN’T FIND MY BRA!!”
Lesson #4 - Gray is in the eyes of the beholder. My daughter has a job on radio. Her day begins in the middle of the night. I was complaining about too many sunless days and she said, “Mom, when you get up at three in the morning, gray looks like sunlight.” Perspective. It’s everything.
Lesson #5 - Sometimes you need to stop and look to see. It took my son a half-hour hour longer than usual to walk his son to nursery school Thursday. Luke was all, “Look at the snow on the leaves! Look at the snow on the cars!” stomping through it, picking it up and feeling it. We grow up and see snow as an inconvenience. Children, if we let them, will always show us wonder.
What did you learn this week? Tell me in the comments below.
Beverly Beckham is the author of “A Gift of Time,” a collection of personal essays, “Back Then,” a memoir of childhood, is a contributor to the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series, is on the Board of Directors for the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress and writes a weekly column for The Boston Globe. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, Bruce, and has three children and seven grandchildren.
How well do you get along with your grandchild and other family members? Want to know if your personalities mesh?Find out here.