It seems to be more than just their joy at beholding the unfolding of life. I remember watching with fascination as my own children discovered the world around them and found names to put on their experiences. I watched with wonderment as they observed and began to interact with their world. The process was part of the bonding with us as they began exploring those things that were a part of our lives. However, with grandchildren the adventure seems to go beyond new discoveries. With the unfolding of the treasures of each new day comes an incredible exuberance. Perhaps our focus on being good parents blinds us to this in our children.
As I was reflecting about this infectious excitement of our little granddaughter this morning, I wondered if the secret weapon that she holds that unlocks our hearts in a way nothing else can is her ability to remind us of forgotten joys.
By the time that our children have grown and we have been through the challenges of their teens and early adulthood we can find ourselves somewhat jaded and worn down by the obstacles and unexpected events that we have had to overcome and work through. The lustre has faded on our parenting experience. Then into our lives comes a new generation and hope returns.
It sneaks up on us in unexpected ways. Last evening I had a business meeting and went to my daughter’s home, near my office for a quick bite of supper with her family. When I arrived little Sanna was just waking from her nap. With bright eyes she beckoned me to come in. She wanted to share with me all the toys on her bed, introducing me to each one with joy. As her little hand beckons me to ‘’Come in, Gamma,’’ I cannot resist and a smile spreads over my face as joy springs up within. I have forgotten the joy of just being able to delight in new discoveries with someone you love.
As she hops out of bed, she asks me if I want to, ‘’Play toys, Gamma?’’ With great delight she systematically pulls all of the toys off her shelves to share them with me. Together we talk to the animals, make music with the shaker and xylophone and flip though a couple of her books, before she decides it is time to turn to her easel and create a masterpiece with markers. As we move from one thing to another together, I sense the load of cares from my busy adult life slipping away. In its place returns the joy of pleasure in simple things. I remember again what is really important.
Last week, this little girl turned two years old. We had a celebration and her eyes lit up with glee when we turned out the lights and lit the two candles on the pumpkin pie, which she prefers to cake. We sang the song that she calls, ‘’Happy to you.’’ The word birthday is still a little too sophisticated for her vocabulary, but she knows that the essence of that song is that she is important and it is being sung to her. She reminds me again of the joy that each of us realize when we discover the unique contribution that we make to our world. At the moment her most significant contribution is the joy that she spreads wherever she goes and maybe that is the greatest gift that I can give as well. I find myself refueled with a sense of hope and well-being as I share her life. Perhaps that is the secret weapon of grandchildren – the ability to rekindle forgotten joys.