My husband and I were blessed with three children, three wonderful in-laws, and eight grandchildren. We thoroughly enjoyed our family. Our three children were born within three years and four months, so there were busy times, but they were happy times.
It was so rewarding, when they started giving us grandchildren. We thought “all the joy, without the responsibility.” It was so much fun to have them visit. Better yet, were the times we would have a special weekend with just one of them at a time. We felt that we would get to know them better as individuals, that way. Also, each one got to enjoy being an “only child,” for a little while. Don’t be alarmed! I’m not going to bore you with the million memories I have accumulated over these many years.
One thing we discovered early on, was the fact that it was not “all the joy without the responsibility.” We soon realized that our every move was being watched, and often, imitated. One day, after a family gathering, my husband was rather quiet, and seemed to be deep in thought. When I asked him what was wrong, he told me that he had to watch his every move. He had to make sure that he was always saying and doing the right thing. He said, “You saw what happened today!”
My husband always used a toothpick, and instead of throwing it away after use, he had the habit of keeping it hanging it out of the side of his mouth most of the day. To the grandchildren, that was just Grandpa! On that particular day, one of the toddler grandchildren had crawled up on a chair to reach the toothpicks on the table. He not only got one for himself, but he took a handful and brought them to the living room. He passed them out to everyone, looked at Grandpa, to see which side of the mouth he put it in, and put the toothpick in his mouth, just like Grandpa! We all thought it was hilarious, but it deeply concerned my husband. He realized that we had inherited the huge responsibility of being a godly example to our grandchildren. No matter what we said to them would be overshadowed by what we did in any given situation.
I still remember when, as a child, my mom would load up my sister and me and drive us the whole five miles to spend a week with her parents each summer. It seemed like we were in a different world. Yes, time spent with grandparents leaves a lasting impression on little ones. I learned many valuable lessons while I was with them, observing their every move and hearing about the “good old days.” I wonder if they knew what a big impact their actions had on us.
Fast forward many years…My husband went to be with the Lord almost five years ago. My youngest grandchild is almost twenty years old. I am getting old, but the Lord has blessed me over and over again. I have gained two more wonderful grandchildren- through their marriage to my grandchildren. But it gets even better than that! In December, 2013, I got my first great grandson. That was wonderful, but in February, 2015, he was blessed with a baby brother, and in March, 2016, they were blessed with a baby sister. Now you might want to start getting alarmed! I have to be constantly on guard that I don’t overdo telling everyone about them! I especially have to be careful not to tell the same person the same story twice. They might start thinking that I am getting a little senile. (I think some of them probably already have reason to start thinking that!) I thoroughly enjoy their visits, and their mother is so good about taking time from her very busy schedule to visit often. My grandson works long hours, but he comes whenever he can.
Late last year, after they had returned from a two-week vacation, I realized in that short time, so much had changed. The infant son had turned into a little boy, sitting up on the floor playing with toys. His older brother had developed a mind of his own, and was practicing for that upcoming event all parents fear: “The Terrible Two’s.” After we established who was in charge of things, the day went well and we had lots of fun.
The thought of “all the joy without the responsibility” again came to mind. I love the “joy” part, and I hope I pass the test on the “responsibility” part. The only advice I gave my daughter and son-in-law when they became grandparents was, “If you are careful how you word your sentences, you will rarely put yourself in a position of needing to discipline the grandchildren for disobedience. You must make sure you carry out their parents’ rules for behavior.”
I am so very thankful that my great grandchildrens’ parents take their responsibility seriously. They work very hard to train their children, using Biblical principles. They know that training begins in infancy, when proper behavior is most effectively taught. I pray daily for them, and all other parents of young children. It is not an easy job, but God expects parents to train up their children in the way they should go. (Prov. 22:6)
You may say, “I don’t have any children or grandchildren.” No problem! Borrow someone else’s. Parents sometimes need a break from their responsibilities. Children need a change from their routine, to practice the skills they have learned, and just maybe you could use some practice having someone watch your every move! In any event, the memories you create will be priceless.