Tag Archives: grandchildren

Lessons We Learned from Our Kids

Parents teach their children valuable lessons to take with them through life.  Lessons about family and building relationships usually top the list, and countless hours are spent teaching, modelling, and reinforcing those lessons until they become embedded in the child.  Many parents turn to articles and books to guide them through the parenting maze, but even then, raising children is trial and error at best.  Teaching lessons that will carry children to success throughout their lives is not an easy task, but with perseverance, most parents succeed in giving their children the foundation and confidence they need to be successful in life.

However, life lessons are not just for kids.  Kids are quite adept at teaching their parents a few lessons of their own.  The first lesson, which parents are often oblivious to until too late, is kids are always in control.  Parents may think otherwise, but they are only deceiving themselves.  They are under the thumb of their children, and they remain there for a lifetime.  From an early age, kids sell the idea that “kids come first,” and “the world revolves around them.”  Since parents are more eager to please their children than their children are to please them, they buy into the “kids first” mentality hook, line, and sinker.  As a result, they are defenseless against being brainwashed.  They are at the mercy of master manipulators – their children.

My wife and I are no different; we were thoroughly brainwashed, manipulated, and trained by our three children.  They made us unwavering disciples of “our kids come first” and “our world revolves around our kids.”  In our home, there has never been any doubt who “ruled the roost” – the kids!   Our two sons and daughter taught us how to run errands for them at the drop of a hat and cater to their every need.  Their dear old mom slaved over a stove and oven eight hours a day to cook their favorite meals, and what did she get?  Turned up noses and squeals of “Ewww, there’s an onion in my potato salad;” “Gross there’s tomato pieces in the spaghetti sauce;” and “I’m not eating anything green.”  How that poor woman made it through the child bearing years only to be bushwhacked by kids with the palate of a McDonald’s junky, I will never know!  Nevertheless, like most parents, we were and are bound within a system of labor (service to our kids) for a fixed period of time (from birth to forever) in which our lives are exclusively the property of our children.  In fact, we have been named “Indentured Servants” of the year more than once since the births of our children.  However, if you ask my wife, she will tell you we would not have it any other way, especially now that our children are parents.

We are having the time of our lives watching our grandkids wrap our daughter and sons around their sticky little fingers.  Like us, our kids have become “Indentured Servants” to their children – baseball, softball, football, golf, cheerleading, band, show choir, church youth events, sleepovers, cooking their meals with special attention to personal diets and preferences, washing their clothes, money for movies, keys to the car, and waiting to 11:00 a.m. to cut the grass on Saturday morning so as not to interrupt the little darlings’ sleep are just a few of the concessions they along with countless other parents make for their children!  It’s all fun though, and when their children are thirty, our kids will most likely agree as well.  Our kids keep us smiling and young, and my wife and I would not change any of it for any treasure in this world. The good news is we are confident the lessons are not over.  With six grandchildren, we still have a lot to learn, but the grandkids will have to work hard if they expect to top the following list of lessons their parents taught us.

 Lessons We Learned from Our Three Kids

  • It is not wise to jump out of a swing backwards;
  • Dancing can break bones;
  • You really don’t want to know what the odor in your sons’ bedroom is;
  • Towel capes cannot make you fly, but they are good for cleaning up the blood before mom gets home;
  • One daughter is more than a match for two sons;
  • Sharpies will write on anything including floors, walls, and ceilings as well as act as the perfect touch-up paint for everything that does not need painting;
  • A clothes dryer does not make a good hamster’s wheel – RIP Herman;
  • Lost underpants during potty training means ransacking the house to find those underpants;
  • Boiled Easter eggs will spoil if kept under the bed until the following Easter;
  • Parents should be extra suspicious when their children are quite;
  • Do not drink after your kids;
  • “Uh oh” after the toilet flushes means “watch out,” but it is probably too late.

JL

©Jack Linton, April 20, 2017

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Growing Up!  The Worst Thing about Grandkids

When it comes to dealing with our grandkids, my wife and I are at opposite ends of the spectrum.  She is all about supporting rules and parameters set by their parents while I tend to give them whatever they want and let the parents deal with the fallout when they get home.  The one thing we agree on is you have never experienced perfection until you become a grandparent.  For a grandmother, there will never be a more handsome or better mannered young man than her grandson, and for a grandfather, a granddaughter is the perfect confirmation of heaven and angels.  Unfortunately, grandkids are not all perfection.  They have issues, such as growing up, that can make grandparenting extremely difficult.

It is not fair, but like puppies, grandchildren grow up.  Growing up does not diminish a grandparent’s love for a grandchild, but it does wreak havoc on the number and quality of hugs and kisses a grandparent receives.  As grandkids grow older, they start needing more personal space, which grandparents do not always understand.  They sometimes take it personal, but a sixteen-year-old is simply repulsed by old slobbery lips.  That a teenager would rather be with his/her friends than eating cookies with grandma and listening to grandpa talk about milking cows is a no brainer.  The older they get the more independent and less slobber absorbing they become.  Grandma and grandpa are no longer super heroes with a bottomless cookie jar or inspiring stories of flying with Peter Pan and joining the Foreign Legion as a boy.  As they grow, a child’s universe expands, which means grandparents are often relegated to playing second fiddle to sports, dance, movies with friends, slumber parties, church, and school events.  Even on the increasingly rare occasions the grandkids visit, grandparents find themselves sharing time with Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and text messages that are as continuous as the waves at the beach.  It is a sad fact, but the older the grandkids get the less grandparents see them.  There should be a law that says grandchildren between the ages of birth and eighty must call or visit their grandparents at least once a week.

Another problem with growing up is it becomes harder and harder for grandparents to spoil their grandkids.  Let’s be real, the only purpose in life for grandparents is to pander to the whims and fancies of their grandkids.  Take that away from them, and all that is left are old folks living for the sake of senior discounts, bingo, keno machines, and eating the buffet at Shoneys.  The only thing that keeps grandparents kicking and off the respirator is pampering their grandkids.  Functional grandparenting is just that simple.  However, spoiling grandkids as they grow older is anything but simple.  When they were little, a piece of candy, a cookie, a quarter maybe a dollar, or a bottle of green slime found on sale at Walmart were all that was needed to keep their attention.  However, as they grow into teenhood, attention decreases in direct correlation to the tightness of their jeans!  The tighter they wear their jeans the harder it is for them to focus and the more expensive the toy or bribe it takes for them to show grandma and grandpa the time of day.  I don’t know why; maybe, tight jeans restrict oxygen to the brain. 

One of the most traumatic issues grandparents deal with as the grandkids grow older is the fear they’ll take art lessons.  Imagine grandma’s refrigerator void of hearts cut from construction paper with squiggly “I love Mawmaw” and “Pappaw is the best” scrawled across them.  Think of her refrigerator without pictures of stick people holding hands in front of a red house with a purple sky.  Grandma’s refrigerator without grandkid art would be like a colorless rainbow; it would not make sense.  However, that is what happens when the grandkids grow older and take art lessons.  Their art becomes refined and more intricate, which is wonderful, but it comes at a cost; it loses its innocence.  It is like replacing the Lascaux cave drawings in France with the latest decorator wall paper.  There is joy in the new, but there will always be that nagging sense of loss.  For grandparents, that equates to their fear of being painted out of the picture.

A child’s first Christmas toy is a grandparent; they’re lovable, huggable, and easy to manipulate.  That is the way it should be, and the way grandparents want it to be, always.  Grandkids are grandparents’ second chance to get it right, and grandparents will face off against the world to make sure nothing messes up that chance – not even growing up.  Honestly though, grandparents take great joy in watching their grandkids grow up, but at the same time it reminds them that, like their children, growing up means moving on, and that is not easy for old codgers who have moved as far as they care to go.  Therefore, my wife and I have but one thing to say to our grandchildren – come see us as often as you can and bring a hug.  Don’t worry about squeezing too hard; grandparents don’t break easily unless left alone.   

JL

©Jack Linton, March 7, 2017

Tapioca Pudding

Her name was Marie; a name I never called her.  To do so did not seem right.  I did not dare, even as an adult, call my own parents by their first names – that was disrespectful, so I shied from calling her by her first name for the same reason.  Although born in New York, she carried herself with the dignity, standing, strength, and charm of a true Southern lady.  Her gift was charm, but she could also put you in your place with a look that said simply, enough is enough.  Her life was her family, and the job she did as a mother and wife will echo in the ballads of heaven for all eternity.  To be a part of this great lady’s life was my blessing.

We met over a bowl of tapioca pudding.  Her daughter, my future wife, invited me to supper to meet the family – mom, dad, brother, and four sisters, two of them twins.  That was the first time I tasted lasagna, ground beef cooked between layers of cheeses and pasta sprinkled with Italian seasonings and spices.  It was close, but I may have been hooked on her lasagna before I was hooked on her daughter.  Dessert was next, confirming I had found heaven on earth.  I grew up in a home where dessert was a rarity served in plastic bowls, so when an elegant long stemmed glass bowl of white pudding was set in front of me, I seriously thought I had won the lottery – a beautiful girl at my side, a smiling delightful family, an unforgettable meal, and dessert served in a glass bowl on a slender pedestal, what more could anyone ask.

The flurry of activity to clear the table for dessert was an event unto itself.  My anticipation grew; a dish that commanded such attention had to be beyond mouthwatering.  The table clear, a collective silent reverence spread through the room.  A pudding was placed in front of each person, and all eyes turned to me.  As the honored guest, I was expected to take the first bite.  If you have never tasted tapioca pudding, all I can say is – Don’t!  The first taste of the sweet concoction brought me back to reality, and my dislike for the stuff must have shown on my face.  “What’s wrong,” one of the twins said, “you don’t like my mother’s cooking?”  I don’t know how I did it, but I gulped down every drop of that awful stuff, and even managed to smile politely and turn down seconds.

Afterwards, each time I dined with the family, the meal concluded with a bowl of tapioca pudding.  I began to believe it a ploy to run me off, but after being introduced to lasagna, hotdogs and beans (my favorite), stuffed artichoke, and Boston cream pie, I wasn’t going anywhere.  I am sure she probably thought her daughter could do better than the risible stray she brought home, but I believe, like her daughter, she also had a soft spot for strays.  Over the years, she never treated me with anything but kindness or . . . maybe, it was pity, but either way, I am forever grateful she made room for me in her family.

This week, she went home to begin preparing for the next time we all gather around her table.  Until then, she will dine with angels and teach them to make lasagna and hot dogs and beans.  She will tell stories of 70 years of marriage, her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.  In our time, one by one, she will greet each of us with the smile that welcomed all, even the strays, into her home, and with a pinch of mischief in her eyes, she will once again place a long stemmed glass bowl of tapioca pudding in front of me.  I will eat it, and I will ask for seconds.

In loving memory of Mrs. Marie Laakso

JL

Jack Linton     August 11, 2016