Updated: Oct 30, 2018
I'm thinking about Time, grandparenting and the value of being present.
At night, when sorrows arrive unannounced on our grandchld's pillow, sometimes we're there to hug the sadness away. Or, in a flood of tears at snack time, when a little face cries over the hard realities of playground bullies at recess, we hear the pain, It's our instinct to want to help. But how can anyone, especially from our generation, feel confident to give young people advice? What worked for us back in the day may not apply anymore in this digital, fast moving, polarized age.
Or will it? Actually, we think that's just where grandparenting fits best into children's lives. No, not as lecturers or disciplinarians. But as reflective listeners, personal advocates and role models. As people with a little more Time to be present in their lives, grandparents can be invaluable.
Parents are juggling crazy busy lives, trying to make a living, rushing from work to the store to the home and back again, putting out fires all along the way. Often, the fastest most expedient solutions to problems are the ones they employ because there's no Time to research a problem and weigh several options before selecting the best one. They just do it.
For example: child is tired and hungry. Get fast food. Child doesn't want to clean up her mess in the bedroom. Veer her toward a bath and bed. Leave the mess until tomorrow. "It's all good." Child is throwing a tantrum in a store. Give in and get out as fast as possible.
Of course, we grandparents do the same thing sometimes. We get it. But really, we just have more opportunities to stall for Time, divert kids attention and navigate the issues at that moment. We can soothe the grandchild who wanted all the sugar cookies in the supermarket before we say, "no way." We have more Time to weigh bedtime options and yet can still get them to bed on Time. We can divert a grandchild from the toy section of Target by saying, "Let's stop at the playground on the way home." We have more Time to listen, to connect on a visceral level...
We leave pre-school with our grandchild. The nanny next to us and her friends are eating up the minutes on their cell phones trying to decide where the group can bring the kids in the rain. We might not have a cell phone. Or we forgot it at home. That's a good thing, dinosaur. We're more present.
So, here's the irony. That very thief- Time, that's stealing our life away, the thief that shockingly confronts us with a lost tooth on the night before our 50th high school reunion, is the same Time that gives us a chance to linger over our grandchild's 87th picture of the family- the one that still looks like a few scribbled tornadoes.