Grandparenting: most important job

Other peoples children can be the gift of a lifetime. By the same token, you might become a blessing to those kids in the form of the best aunt, uncle or grandparents. My boss Randy and his wife, Susan, just became grandparents to little Lorelei....

Other peoples children can be the gift of a lifetime.

By the same token, you might become a blessing to those kids in the form of the best aunt, uncle or grandparents.

My boss Randy and his wife, Susan, just became grandparents to little Lorelei.

While I am unlikely to be a grandparent (the dogs are neutered, and we dont have any human children), I feel very qualified to give grandparent advice. After all, I grew up with the worlds best grandparents.

To the Mohses and other new grandparents, I offer advice I learned just growing up around the masters:


" Let your grandkids dig in the dirt with your good spoons. Spoons are just spoons, only eating utensils, and they can go in the dishwasher. Or you can buy new ones.

" Bake them cookies from scratch. You can benefit directly when you teach the kids to make cookies.

" Foster their creativity. They can learn multiplication tables from their teachers. Who else will allow them to make candles in the kitchen or bear-claw rolls that will unroll during baking because they were too thick?

" A little guilt goes a long way, and there may be no better punishment than a little well-executed shame from a beloved grandparent. If the guilt is well cultivated, you never have to touch the child and even have to say very little.

" Teach them songs. Teach them many and from a young age. They will learn how to memorize, even if they never learn to carry a tune.

" Teach them your hobbies (within reason, of course). In Randys case, Ill bet hes already bought that little girl some sort of fishing rod. If he buys a teeny, tiny ice auger, her parents should worry.

" Remember that youre competing (good naturedly, of course) with at least one other set of grandparents for the status of favorite. Sometimes you have to drag out the big guns (not literally, of course, although if hunting is a favorite pastime, this is probably a good way to involve older kids).

" Always have something on hand that other grandparents dont. Your grandkids will remember you for it. My great-uncle Frank always had Double Mint gum on the top shelf of his cupboard for whatever kids might drop by on any given day. He lived down the block from my grandma, his sister. I will always remember him for his kindness and humor.


" Better yet, let your grandkids do things their parents and other grandparents never would allow (again, within reason). Grandma let me use the sewing machine when I was around 7. My other grandmother never would have dreamed of allowing that.

" Give little gifts on a regular basis. This doesnt mean an X-Box. It means small things that you make. Or maybe candy bars.

" Get back at your kids. Give their kids lots of sugary snacks and loud toys right before you send them home. Get a good laugh when your kids call to complain. Gently remind your kids how much trouble they were.

" Resurrect traditions. Grandma had an electric food processor, but she first taught me to make bread by hand. Its important for kids to appreciate how good they have it. They might also grow up with a respect for heritage and tradition.

" Tell them stories about the generations who came before them. Its important for kids to know where they came from.

" Subtly, let those grandkids know whos boss. Its funny: I remember sassing my mom from time to time (which always resulted in a good mouth-washing with soap). I never remember sassing Grandma, yet she never spanked me. Maybe when youre a grandparent, you automatically have an anti-sass guard built in. Maybe kids just know.

" Be a safe haven. If kids want to tell you secrets, keep them. OK, there are some secrets you probably will have to tell, like Im experimenting with some chemicals in the basement. But if a kid accidentally cuts most the hair off the back of her head in a misguided attempt to thin unruly tresses, help her out. Dont tell her mom; help position other hair over the bald spot. Junior high is tough enough without a bald spot on the back of your head.

Being a parent has to be one of the toughest jobs in the world, and grandparenting, Im sure, has its days. Still, this gives you the chance for a whole new role. You have a chance to be the one kids run to when theyre running away. You have the chance to mold a new generation, maybe try a few things you didnt get to use on your kids. And at the end of the day, you can still send them home. All the fun and none of the work what could be better than that?

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