Before I was a grandmother, I was a mother, a peacock proud of my children. I would dress them up and take them anywhere, solely to show them off. “They’re beautiful,” people said. And because I was young and sure that beautiful was the be all and end all, I beamed.
I beam now when I’m with my grandchildren, but not just when someone says “She’s adorable.” I beam at all the comments people make. I beam because I know that there is nothing better than being a grandparent.
What can you tell a grandparent to make their day? Here’s my list of favorites >>
This is my all-time, personal hit out-of-the-park home run, no matter how untrue or insincere. These words are Scott Joplin to my increasingly muffled ears. Pour it on when you meet up with a new grandparent. What harm is there in a little white lie? “She looks as if she could be yours!” “You must have married when you were nine.” Lay it on thick. Delusion is good for the soul.
It doesn’t matter if the child looks like a zebra. Find something about the stripes, the soulful eyes that you can turn into a "there’s-something-about-the-way-he-carries-himself-that-reminds-me-of-you" compliment.
Ah, the few first days when your grandchild is new. Asking us if we want to hold or feed the baby are words from a new mother that can make an old mother feel like tap dancing. I never said these words to my mother-in-law. I was a baby hog. I wish I had. Would it have killed me to hand over a sleeping child to someone who loved him? Grandparents live to hold their grandkids.
These come from the grandkids, of course! My neighbor’s granddaughter doesn’t come to her house often. A few Sundays ago, the family came for dinner and my friend made it a point to sit next to her very shy two-year-old granddaughter. "Mims, I haven't seen you for a long time. I've missed you," the little girl leaned over and whispered. And my friend’s heart swelled to the size of a watermelon. We all want to hear these words from our grandchildren, that we are missed, that we are special, that we are fun and that we are loved.
Kids go to school and they talk and sometimes, they talk about us. What we did with them over the weekend. Where we went. That we read Fancy Nancy five times and watched “Puss in Boots” and had pancakes with chocolate chips for dinner. When our grandchildren talk about us, they are thinking of us and learning about us. And this is nice to know.
“Yes, you can take them out to dinner.” Grandparents love to hear this word: Yes! As in,"Yes, you can." "Yes, you may." "Yes, I know you will not lose my child at the park or at Macy’s." "Yes, I will not call you 50 times to see if the kids survive my going out for dinner" "Yes, if there’s anyone who I can trust with my most precious children, it’s you."
Proving that life is indeed a circle, the one perfect never-go-wrong, always nice thing to say to any grandparent is this. Times change, but the power of words do not. And though I know that beautiful and adorable are not the be all and end all, that kind and good and funny and thoughtful and patient and a zillion other words have more depth and import, I also know that flattery gets you places in this world and is always a perfect place to start.
How well do you get along with your grandchild and other family members? Want to know if your personalities mesh?Find out here.