Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sheltering: A Mawmaw's Way

What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life. And, most importantly, cookies. ~Rudolph Giuliani

When Melanie asked me to care for Morgan during their trip to Africa, I was delighted.  I knew how much fun we could have in ten days.  And we are having fun!
Yesterday we went to JoAnn’s and picked out material for a skirt and nightie.  Oh my, so many choices.  Once she decided, she didn't change her mind.  Pink with aqua tea cups for the nightie and pink with ladybugs for the skirt.  When I finished the nightie this morning, her face was priceless -- all girly and joyful.

As grandmothers and grandfathers, we have a wonderful opportunity to leave a heritage for our grandchildren.  I love how I can be hemming a nightie while having a conversation with Morgan about things that please Jesus.  

Here are some principles to follow as we shelter our grandchildren:

1.  Follow Mom and Dad's rules.  I know, it's hard.  Grandmas give in much easier with grandchildren than with their own children.  If Mom says one glass of chocolate milk, don't offer two.  If bedtime is at 8:00, put them to bed at 8:00.  

2.  Respect the "other grandma."  I've seen too many families where the grandmothers are in competition.  Don't put your grandchildren in a place where a child has to choose one over another.  I'm privileged because my grandchildren have a lovely "Nana." But even with "not-so-lovely" grandparents, one could model disrespect if making fun or saying unkind things.

3.  Pray for your grandchildren.  One of the hardest things for me in losing my grandparents was that I knew Grandpa and Grandma Cessna prayed for me every day.  When an opening comes to talk about God, walk into it.  This morning we were talking about Shawn and Melanie being in Africa.  Morgan said, "They are working for God."  An opportunity.  When we take the opportunity to talk with them about spiritual things at Morgan's age, then they will feel free to talk to you about them when they are teenagers.  RB's mother lived with us during her last year of life.  Emily always slept with her.  Some of her favorite memories are of Grandma quoting Scripture as they went to sleep.

4.  Make time for your grandchildren.  My parents shine at this.  My girls couldn't wait until Granddad came because he read books to them.  My mother colored and had tea parties.  My father picked Emily up from school during visits to our house.  It was a treat for Emily.  The last time they were with us was in November; she lamented that she was in college now, and Granddad couldn't pick her up.

5.  Keep in touch.  If you don't live near your grandchildren, you can still influence them.  Kids love to get mail. My Grandma sent me a monkey postcard every time she went to Florida. Teenagers love mail, too, but their mail is more like a text on their phone.  A friend of ours lost his son.  In order for Grandpa (living several hundred miles away) to be a presence in their grandchildren's lives, he learned to text. Keep up with technology -- meet them where they are.

6.  Teach a skill.  My mother took Melanie with her to china painting class.  Another time she took her to a lake where they set up watercolors and painted.  We may not be an artist like my mother, as I’m keenly reminded when recalling how Ethan asked me once to draw a horse.  I asked him what I drew and he said, "I don't know, but it's not a horse."  Woodworking, needlework, cooking...whatever you like to do, they'll love to do it with you.

When I look into the eyes of my four grandchildren, I want to do my part in giving them a desire to live for God -- the God of my grandparents.  Loving them is easy.  I've felt the warmth of little arms around my neck this week and heard the whispered words, "I wike you, Mawmaw."  This Mawmaw heart 
is full of joy and oh, so blessed.