You learn more about life from grandchildren then you ever did being a parent. As a parent (especially moms) your days are filled with schedules, routines, cleaning up messes and bottoms, bumps and bruises, and herding little ones from one place to another. You are an educator, physician assistants, counselor, and activities coordinator. You are in the business of raising your children to be well rounded, godly participants in the human race. It is exhausting and parenting is for the young.
Grandparents (with the exception of those who are heroically raising a second generation) are entertainment participants and personal valets. We are less concerned about molding children as we are about being children. We can silly dance and not be embaressed because, well, we just don't care what other adults think, we are with our grandchildren. We sleep better at night too because the energetic enthusiasm of grandchildren is exhausting.
Eva favorite stuffed animal is a kitty. Despite our best effort to give her the most awesome Build A Bear she is still comforted at night with her favorite friend. It is the Kitty who finds its way into imaginary conversations and backpacks when we go on a trip. There is something soothing about its texture as she touches it to her cheek. Why this kitty instead of another? Who knows, but at some point a meaningful gift became an indispensible friend. Reminds me of Calvin and Hobbs. Kitty is that one friend who is never dissappointed, always listens, doesn't judge, and is there when you need a soothing companion. We all need someone in our lives like that, but this kind of friend is difficult to find. Our Heavenly Father and the endwelling Spirit can be that kind of friend. Jesus calls us his friends because he has drawn us into his inner circle and we are participants in his plan. He doesn't judge because he was judged, the Spirit comforts when the world tears us down, and the soothing texture of his presence stills our troubled souls in difficult times. All believers have aceess to the best friend you could ever have, and if double blessed there is another human God has placed in your life who displays His love in the flesh.
Taking a walk was one of the highlights of the day. It was a feat to get three children into strollers, wagons, and a big wheel while keeping the dog on the leash. Once we headed out we were an odd parade in the neighborhood. I was pulled along by the dog while I was pulling Gabe in the wagon. Eva peddled the big wheel with an occasional push by Rebecca who pushed the stroller with Phillip. As adults we had an objective...go for a walk around the block. As an inquisitive child Eva saw every flower as an invitation to stop, smell, and if allowed pick and placed in the basket. It didn't make any difference the kind or size of the flower. Each was magical and it drew her like gravity. The journey was only an opportunity to see the wonder along the way. We focus so much on the end that the wonder of the journey is often lost. The end could be our career plans, educational goals, financial security, or even the gates of glory. Yet, God has gifted us with creation and it is full of wonders that are missed because of our frantic pursuits. One summer Alison pointed out all the fractals that crossed our path. I think this is where Eva gets her love for creations beauty. I didn't know what a fractal was and was fascinated with God's creativity. I started seeing them everywhere and enjoyed stopping and enjoying the simple pleasure of God. We need to take more time stopping and smelling the roses or we will stand before God some day to hear him say, "Really, you didn't see that? And I put it there just for you to find."
Reading didn't become a pastime for me until I was in High School. Books open up a world of ideas and imagination that broaden our understanding of the world and the human experience; even Fox in Box and the Berienstein Bears. Eva was playing Legos on the floor with grandma and I was reading to Gabe. From the first word read Eva was distracted by the story, so much so, she turned to Grandma and said, "I will come back and play with you latter." She crawled in my lap with her brother for the rest of the story, and five stories after that. They couldn't get enough. I finally had to stop because I was losing my voice. The love of reading is a learned behavior. Children who are read to and see their parents read are more likely to be readers themselves. As important as it is to read the great literature of the world more important is the ability and love for reading that opens up the wonder of God's word. The living Word (Jesus) spoke to us of God's presence. The written Word continues to speak to us of God's love and character. When we teach a child to read, and to read the Word of God, we open to them wonder of God himself. As newborns hunger for milk so are we the Word of God. Its a foundation worth exploring.
Imagination, exploration, and foundations are things I observed in my grandchildren this summer. I have learned that I need to soak in all that God has provided for me and take the time to revel in Him and His creation. I'm just saying...