My grandson is into pirates. Between the daily swashbuckling, the crooked bandanas and the black eye patch, I try to sneak in lessons about bad pirates and good pirates. It’s difficult sometimes because pirate aspirations are to pillage and plunder. Is it any wonder the response of my pirate-with-a-pacifier is a steady “Aarrrgh!”?
They say that good habits and good lessons are better caught than taught. I’m used to other phrases, like “Do as I say, not as I do” and the old-school “Because I said so.” Grandparents are supposed to have earned a respite from these axioms, but when you’re in the position of raising your grandchildren, you don’t get to take a break.
You lean into these new responsibilities with the knowledge that you’re trying to save these babes not only from the bad, bad, world but also, sometimes, from specific parental footsteps you don’t want them to follow.
In our home, we teach them to greet visitors upon their arrival, but what they sometimes witness is their own parent not acknowledging the grandparents. Timeouts? I dream of time alone in a corner by myself! Shouldn’t whining and crying be an out for grandparents to give in? Why do we find ourselves being the delayers of gratification most of the time?
Even though it didn’t work out as you planned with your own children, you still want the same for your grandkids: to love them, to teach them and to save them from bad things.
For now, I feel capable of saving my pirate Ryan from most of the bad things that could happen to a 3-year-old. I know one day he’ll grow out of pirates and move on to action figures and superheroes. Then he can go and save the world.
In the meantime, my two buccaneers and I will cross swords and learn about good and bad. And I’ll teach them the best lesson of all: unconditional love.
Lily Prellezo, a regular contributor to GRANDmagazine.com, is raising her two grandsons.
Invitation to grandparents who are raising their grandkids:
Email GRAND your experiences in 275 words or less (subject line: “GRANDparents Raising GRANDkids”). We’ll publish the best submissions in GRAND.