Vartabedian: The Ever-Changing World of Grandchildren

Where does the time go?

Just yesterday, it seems, my grandchildren came into the world. I saw them crawl. I watched with pride as they spoke and sang. I cringed when objects were hurled at this target. The start of school was yet another reason to celebrate. Birthdays. Holidays. Recitals and soccer games.

All hold a special place in my heart.

I’m blessed with five very good reasons to stand up and cheer. The eldest is 8. I think she’s already noticing the boys in her Grade 3 class. The first time I saw her in a ballet costume, I couldn’t believe how mobile she was on stage. And where did she get those long, slender dancing legs?

The youngest? Well, that’s also a girl and her first birthday is just around the corner. If it’s like the others, I’ll have my camera aimed at a happy face covered with chocolate cake.

I think about the inevitable. Will I still be around to see them graduate high school? Earn a college degree? Get married? Will I bear witness to any great-grandchildren? These thoughts often enter my mind.

But one day at a time, I remind myself.

Two recent incidents showed me another side of my grandchildren—a more mature side. Both left me with an indelible impression.

The first occurred at a funeral. My daughter-in-law lost her 60-something mother to a heart attack while she was convalescing in a rest home. The news hit their home with a great deal of remorse. My two oldest grandchildren were suddenly without a grandmother.

I’m all for exposing children to a wake and a funeral, provided they’re a little older. My own kids went through it when they lost two grandparents inside six months. They were grammar schoolers, just like the children my son.

There was no debating the issue. The youngsters would be attending and made aware of life’s reality. Being half Jewish, they were exposed to the different traditions of a burial and the ritual that followed inside the home.

While the rabbi was uttering graveside prayers, I glanced over to my two grandchildren who seemed absorbed in the moment. Whether it hit them or not, I couldn’t tell with their backs toward me. Then I saw something that made my heart patter.

The 8-year-old put her arm around her 6-year-old brother, consoling him like the big sister she was. She drew him close to her body and when they walked away, she had her hand firmly locked into his. Had I not known any better, I would have assumed they were a lot older than their years—and that much more mature.

I offered my condolences to the two and they each reciprocated with a hug. It was a side of them I had never seen or anticipated.

The second episode took place a few weeks ago at York’s Animal Kingdom in Maine. We decided to take my other son’s family for a visit, given the fact the boys love animals and might fancy the butterflies flittering around in their special abode. Their ages, 4, 2, and 1.

After roaming through the park and enjoying the fare, we decided to stop for lunch at one of the available eateries. The place was crowded with children still on vacation. And then the unexpected occurred.

In as much time as it took to turn our heads, the 2-year-old bolted from the scene. Hysterics followed. We suddenly had a lost child in our midst. Out rang his name to no avail. People gathered about and conducted a search party. Security was immediately notified and joined in pursuit.

The toddler was eventually found by the monkey cage a good walk away. He acted as though nothing happened and there was really no cause for alarm. My daughter-in-law was a basket case, thinking the child had been abducted. We all feared for his safety.

And then, on came the reprimand as only a child can give. The 4-year-old pointed his finger into his younger brother’s chest and read him the riot act.

“Ben,” he admonished. “That was a bad thing you did. You should never go off alone like that unless you’re with mommy, daddy, grammy, or papa. There are bad people out there and I don’t want anything bad to happen to you.”

And, oh, that evasive hug that usually works wonders. Big brother turned to little brother—the kid he beats up over toys and pillow fights—and showered him with love and affection.

You often meet grandparents who tend to bore you about their grandchildren. I hope this was not the case.

1 Comment on Vartabedian: The Ever-Changing World of Grandchildren

  1. Thanks you for the 2 events.  It is so good to know that children can tech us that they are truly aware of their surroundings.  As wellaas learning how to comfort …while teaching his younger brother, about the real wowrld out there.  We can take lessons from children.

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