God created grandchildren to make up for the fact that he also created teenagers. Grandchildren keep us honest, and so do teenagers. It’s just that teenagers do it with a sneer, while grandkids look wide-eyed and adorable. Even teenaged grandkids usually reserve their sneering for their parents.
My sister Bec told me the funniest story about her grandson Carter, now 11 years old. This particular incident took place a number of years ago. She was driving and he was in the backseat. She was carefully making her way through the always-dangerous movie theater parking lot, where (particularly in AZ) senior citizens are backing up without a glance over their shoulders to see if there are cars or pedestrians in the area, while others are poised to take the spot whether there are cars waiting or not.
In that way that we adults do, she groaned, “There is nothing more dangerous than driving through a parking lot.” Carter was silent for a few beats. And then he solemnly replied, “I think it would be more dangerous if we were driving through a volcano.”
See? Keeping us honest. I love that story because it perfectly illustrates how small kids look at the world without blinders, and usually without judgement. Carter didn’t judge his nana for her error. He just wanted to make sure that her feelings about driving in parking lots didn’t make her too lackadaisical when she approached a volcano.
Our grandkids help us to know what we look like in other people’s eyes, though it’s true we may not care. There was the time, for example, when Alastair announced that my hair was gray. That was still the time when I was trying to convince myself that the gray in my hair looked like lighter highlights. He brought me down to earth and I have since come to grips with the fact that I have gray hair. It helps that my hair continues to turn more gray each year, making it nearly impossible to claim highlights.
And you know what? It doesn’t have to be your own grandkids. Other folks’ grandkids can bring you back to reality as well. When my great-nephew Noah was maybe 5 or 6 years old, he looked at Bill through eyes that squinted like a detective and asked him, “Are you old?”
“Older than dirt,” he responded.
I have said it before and I will say it again: Being a grandmother is the best gig I’ve every had. I enjoy all of my roles, and mostly always have. I love my husband and am proud to be his wife. I’m delighted to be Court’s mother, and have always been so. I’m a stepmother, an aunt, a great-aunt, and a friend to many — all good things to be. But being a grandmother, well, it just doesn’t get any better than that.
But do they have to be so honest?