When I was young and misbehaving, my mother would reach a point of total frustration and say those famous words that every parent knows: “I can only hope when you grow up that you have children just like you.”
Well, my children are grown, and now I have nine grandchildren — copies of me, and all I can do is hope they turn out better than me. If they do, they are going to have a wall-to-wall existence filled with laughter and fantastic people. They might also write articles for a newspaper. My mom’s chickens have come home to roost.
There is a great temptation to try to step in whenever there is a problem in their lives, but I also know that they must personally realize that there are bumpy roads sometimes. If needed, they know that they have grandparents as a back-stop.
In between times, there are little vignettes that make everything worthwhile.
I do watercolor paintings to keep from going to “seed.” One of my grandchildren was looking at my paintings and said “I like to draw.” I said “Fine,” and proceeded to supply her with a drawing pad and a few pencils. In a while, she showed me what she had done. It was better than anything I could do, and I had green eyes of jealousy. Her twin sister, seeing what she had done, proceeded to draw something that had me beaten hands down. The score was two out of three and I decided to quit before I developed a real big inferiority complex. What more could I teach them — how to add watercolors and stay between the lines?
Grandchildren can surprise you. They know more math than I do, read Shakespeare for English class, and can argue convincingly, especially when it comes to getting the keys for the car or spending money for a date. Now I have two of them who have finished college, and seven in various stages of the education process.