“Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.” ~ Alex Haley
My other grandpa mostly sprinkled wheat germ and other health food supplements which he used in ungodly concoctions intended to promote his and my grandmother’s health and longevity. I do remember some good times with them: eating raw bread dough when Grandma was baking, perusing through Grandpa’s rock and fossil collections, learning to run a needle and thread through the outer layers of skin on my finger… (okay, maybe that last activity was kind of unsupervised, but it was fun in a gross kind of way).
These memories come to me as I have the distinct honor – and pleasure – of announcing that I am soon to become a grandparent. And being my first time, it gives me the opportunity to think about what kind of grandparent I want to be. I’m not into chewing tobacco or wheat germ. And I’m certainly not into stardust. So what do I want to “sprinkle over the lives” of my grandchildren?
Let’s start with a sense of wonder. I want to help my grandkids stop and smell the roses. Or the dandelions. Or the cow manure in a pastoral field. I don’t care. As long as they are able to pause and wonder at the infinite wisdom and beauty of nature. Cow manure? Absolutely. It has its place in the interworking of nature’s great plan. We just won’t tell Mom and Dad we went out whiffing the pasture pucks. Let’s see… we went looking for four leaf clovers, yeah… that’s it.
I also want to instill in them confidence. Confidence in their own ideas and dreams. Confidence that they can accomplish whatever it is that they set out to do, as long as it fits in with the overall good of humankind (which of course they will be attuned to after communing with the aforementioned cow pies and dandelions. It’s all one grand scheme, after all).
To top it off, I want to give them optimism. Not the Pollyanna notion that everything is going to be just fine, but rather the notion that many things can turn out just fine with a little perseverance, a little effort (or maybe a lot of effort), and a little good luck. I often find myself resignedly saying “it is what it is.” But I want my grandkids to know that it’s not over ‘til it’s over. You shouldn’t throw in the towel until you are sure that all that’s left is the mopping up.
I’m not going to be dispensing cookies to my grandkids. If they need a bandage, I’ll try to wrangle one up somewhere. If they need love, they’ll find plenty. If they want stardust, they’ll have to look elsewhere.
I don’t want to spend a day with my grandchild just to hand him or her back to my daughter and say, here, you deal with the sugar high and the sensory overload and the unrealistic expectations that I’ve indulged the kid in for the last however-many-hours. I want to hand the child back and say, here, expect a million questions about what is and what can be and what should be, and why it isn’t so.
Grandchild, get ready. There’s a huge wonderful world awaiting you. And this grandma’s ready to take you on the ride of your life. Stardust entirely optional, but if it slips through the cracks, then so be it. But I certainly won’t admit that it came from me. I’d rather lay claim to the chewing tobacco and wheat germ. Also optional.