Our son and his wife asked if we could take care of our grandsons, aged three and five, for a week while they traveled. “Of course,” we said. What could be more simple? We raised four children of our own and I’m a pre-school teacher. We holiday with the family and see them most weekends.
What we forgot was the never-ending energy of little boys and the fact that we are a lot older than when we raised our own crew. We also didn’t take into account that we couldn’t hand them back to mom and dad or wave goodbye when we were tired.
Our door would creak open before six in the morning. How we loved having little warm bodies slip into our bed. Before long the boys donned helmets and raced around the house on noise generating ‘motorbikes’ rather than quietly reading stories and building puzzles as imagined. A walk became a journey of exploration as bugs, footprints and flowers were closely examined. Every surface in the house became a cluttered work space filled with paper, kokis and scissors. Supplying rooibos tea with rusks to dunk, and cooking together was fun, done at a child’s pace.
Playing with cars, animals and construction toys last used by our children brought back vivid memories. In contrast was our entry into the world of technology as the boys regularly Skyped mom and dad.
Questions abounded in rapid fire:
“Why are you going so fast (or slowly)?”
“Where are we going?”
“When will we get there?”
“What are you doing?”
“Can we do this now?”
Often there was not even a chance to draw a breath between answers.
By late afternoon I was ready to hand over to grandpa for the evening routines of bathing, eating supper and reading together. What relief for grandparents to reach bedtime when we pulled up duvets and gave a final hug and kiss before tiptoeing out of the bedroom.
Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren. – Deuteronomy 4:9
We remembered their dad at the same age through words, actions and games we played. We fondly shared these memories with our grandchildren. Stories that began with, “When your dad was little . . . ”
At the same time we remembered God’s abundant goodness to us over the years.
Teaching the boys stories from the Bible and talking about the miracle of the loaves and fishes and how much Jesus loved children reminded us not only of the instruction to teach our grandchildren about God, but brought joy as we passed God’s Word from one generation to the next.
On reflecting on this experience, we realised the value of remembering and teaching. In so doing, we touched on God’s design for grandparents through the ages, much as Timothy’s granny Lois must have passed on her faith to him as she told him about her relationship with God and taught him as she had taught his mother (2 Timothy 1:3-5).