Monday, September 10, 2012

Reflections of a Youth Development Grandmother

This articles is written by a member of our expert blogging team.

What was special about September 9, 2012?  Is it that it is the Sunday after Labor Day?  Is it that most kids have gone back to school?  Is it the first official day of fall?  (Unless of course you are in the Southern Hemisphere and it would be the first official day of spring.)  The answer is, none of the above.  It was Grandparent’s Day.  That’s right, Grandparent’s Day.  This is a day that you have to “age” into—much like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day just with more investment of time.

Personally I have learned many things from my grandchildren—Nick and Ryan.  I have learned how much fun it is to see the world through eyes that are full of curiosity and wonder.  I have learned how the seemingly most insignificant things can mean the world to you.  I have learned how to truly enjoy each stage of their growing up.
Recently I took the boys to Washington D.C. for a whirlwind week at the Capitol.  While we were on our way I asked what they were most interested in seeing.  One of them replied, “The Lincoln Memorial.  You know it’s on the back of almost every penny.”  So needless to say, the Lincoln Memorial was one of our first stops.  Later in the day we were at the Capitol on a tour and the tour guide asked if anyone knew why the dome, which weighs a great many tons, doesn’t collapse on itself.  A young boy gave a brilliant answer as to the physics in play to keep that from happening.  What I realized at that moment was the profound difference between being a parent and a grandparent.  As a parent I would have been asking myself if I needed to put my son in a science club, and should I spend more time discussing physics and science with him so he could have the answer to important questions.  As a grandparent I thought, “Isn’t it a shame that this other young man doesn’t know that the Lincoln Memorial is on the back of almost every penny?"  In other words, as a parent I would have been less willing to embrace differences and celebrate the skills and talents of my child, whereas through the lens of “grandparent,” I could simply hold close the uniqueness of each of my grandchildren and know that they are following a one of a kind, individual path to becoming.

In afterschool we have some of the same opportunities as a grandparent.  We can celebrate the diversity and differences in the youth we serve and realize that each of them is on the road to recognizing the talents, gifts and potential that he or she was born with.  What a wonderful opportunity for all of us!

On a closing note: actually, when you are a grandparent, every day is Grandparent’s Day.  Grandchildren are a gift from your children that more than reimburse you for the hours you worried about them as a parent.  Grandchildren, without a doubt, should be a synonym for JOY.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user ToastyKen

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