THE JOY OF BEING A GRANDPA
"Grandpa" - my life changed when I first heard that word. It
seemed like my previous experience with our own children was
practice and training to glean the knowledge needed to really
relate to a child. Grandchildren seem to present the freedom to
enjoy a child even more than your own children. I noticed a soft
spot in my heart that wasn't noticeable previously.
"Can't get what you want? Dial 1-800-GRANDPA!" This appeared
on a T-shirt as the inevitable result and it was accompanied with
feeling sorry for our own kids who unfortunately didn't have it
so good. It seems that more discipline is for your kids and
increased expressions of tolerance and love is for your
grandkids. A friend reminded me that grandchildren get along so
well with grandparents because they have a common enemy - the
middle people (your kids and their parents). Just kidding, we
love our own children as well. After all, they gave us our
Now Sandy and I have 6 of these little characters and we
play on swings, and play sets. We set up trains and other
mechanical toys. We have had numerous shopping trips and a
variety of fun activities such as parties, athletic games, and
even exercise sessions in the weight room. Our scrapbooks are now
loaded with pictures attesting to the fact that there is no lack
of joyful nonsense in this household.
The Psalmist spoke of children as a heritage from God that
provides happiness to a grandfather:
Lo, children [are] an heritage of the LORD: [and] the fruit of
the womb [is his] reward. As arrows [are] in the hand of a mighty
man; so [are] children of the youth. Happy [is]the man that hath
his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they
shall speak with the enemies in the gate. - Psalm 127:3-5
How is it that parents and grandparents can be so radically
different in their approach to raising the grandchildren? I'm 60
and I still love to play, OK - sometimes it gets a little noisy
and items get broken but it's all in good healthy fun. Sword
fights with shipping tube swords and box lid shields may upset
moms but they sure are fun. An outdoor water balloon battle may
get the attention of the neighborhood but they know it is just
our way of being kids. There are also the more conventional games
like checkers, chess, and those crazy ducks on a computer game.
Activities abound ... everything from helping with schoolwork,
bike rides, walks and talks about life. I enjoy taking my two
grandsons on a hike to see trains going over the tracks near a
stream . . . going to play grounds (sometimes secretly recruiting
other kids into a game of tag since I am challenged in catching
the kids when they go through the tight spaces).
I know that I'm wanted when I find a sign on my computer -
"stop doing taxes and stop working and come out and play!"
Grandchildren mean hugs and kisses, band aids and bruises,
happy times and sad times. Visits to the emergency room
temporarily add a bit of seriousness when stitches are needed to
repair the result of a little accident. There are the childhood
diseases and surgical procedures (tonsils). Little pets come and
go (tears shed when Jasmine the Rottweiler pup, Squeaky the
Hamster, and Rocky the Rat pass on). There are happy times and
sad times ... laughter and tears ... but it all produces joy.
Oh, yes, there are those spiritual events and unforgettable
disruptions in church such as when Kayla (aged 6) decoded an
image on an overhead projector and announced to the entire
congregation that, "It's a rabbit!" but in the process she scared
herself when she realized that everyone's attention was suddenly
on her. Then there is the time that Noah (age 2) annoyed the man
in front of us by shaking our keys and then poking him with them.
Yes, the man did have a few words for us. And the time when
Danielle, about 8 months old, broke out crying just when the
preacher made a point that was somewhat controversial. He did a
quick save by saying, "I guess everyone didn't agree with that
point," when the congregation heard the power of Danielle's
little vocal chords.
The girls seem easier to manage than the boys. Compare
Maddie's, "you're my best friend Grandpa," to Nicolas and Noah
running in opposite directions despite repeated commands to stop
(too bad Parris Island doesn't accept 5 year olds for recruit
training). Grandchildren are like arrows in my quiver whether we
are in church, going for a walk in the woods, or doing exercises
in the weight room or Tae Bo routines with
Grandma ever ready with her camera. An especially funny time
was when our oldest granddaughter (then approximately 6 years
old) asked me to jump up in a tree the way they do in the movies
when I was practicing - a Tae Kwon Do routine in our backyard
There are emotional times, scary times, and midnight snacks.
Grandchildren are lots of love and joy. But beware when they all
visit your home at the same time. And, enjoy them when they are
small because they are much easier to manage at age one than they
are from two to six.
When the teen years hit (our oldest grand daughter is now
16) there is adolescence and attraction to the opposite sex,
school functions, talks with friends who are facing a variety of
adolescent crises. and driver training (accompanied by lots of
prayer). Bottom line: There are many opportunities to mentor your
grandchildren and their friends.
When 1 look at the wall of pictures that my wife put up and
see our children and grandchildren I am amazed that my wife and I
could have produced such a beautiful array of life. Each of them
is an individualized reflection of God's image. I am reminded of
an ancient Near Eastern concept that whenever a child is born,
God is right there and involved in the deal producing new life.
Grandchildren are a blessing from God and a joy to enhance
our life. They are the future and a bright future at that.
Jim DeFrancisco has served as President of Miltha Ministries and
Institute of Christian Principles since 1992.
October 2007 ACTS magazine, a publication of the General Church
of God, Meridian, ID, USA