The Wasatch Behind: Learning from little people
One of the joys of being a grandparent is baby sitting the grandchildren. I've had lots of fun and I've learned a great deal over the past several years since I got to be the Bumpaw. Children are sweet, innocent, and brutally honest, and they can teach us many things if we will listen to them.
One of the important things I have learned, is that the reason grandparents and grandchildren get along so well is because they have a common enemy. That's right - the parents. Most young parents are busy making a living, making a home, and making more kids. They are busy, busy, busy, and tired, tired, tired. Too often they don't have the time, or take the time, to listen to what their kids are trying to teach them.
Grandparents are different. Grandparents have been aged and mellowed like fine wine in the grape-stomping press of life. They've been much trodden-upon, and know that life is only trouble and vanity. All that really matters is those cute little faces. It's a sobering conclusion, and it takes a few years to get there.
And so, grandparents usually get along great with the kids. They have more time, patience, and compassion for little people. And, the kids love it too because grandparents are easy for kids to manipulate to get what they want. Grandparents want to be manipulated. Some grandparents demand to be manipulated. It's a generational thing, a way to get back at the parents for all of the grief and pain they caused the grandparents. Revenge is sweet. Go ahead, fill the little Cherubs full of sugar and send them home bouncing off the walls. Buy the kid a drum for Christmas. Entertain the kids by reviewing family photo albums where old pictures of their parents can be found sporting scraggy hair and cool, Sonny and Cher look-alike wardrobes.
And now that we have more time to spend with the grand kids, Jeannie and I have noticed that little people go though certain developmental stages as they get older. It's a predictable transition. They go from infants, to rug rats, to curtain climbers, to house apes, to yard birds, to TV zombies. And little kids are like drunks. They stagger when they walk, drool, talk gibberish, and make disgusting noises. They also smell bad, cry and fight a lot, and spill things. They need constant supervision.
Kids are entertaining too. They sing and dance with perfect innocence. They know that everybody in their world loves them and anything they do is applauded. Only later do they learn to be embarrassed and self-conscious.
Grand kids are observant. "Why do you say bad words when you drive, Grandpa? How come you got hair growing out of your ears? Grandma says her hair is like mine, but she's got hair like Buckshot (the dog)."
Kids can be helpful. "If you're ever down on the desert and you find some monster tracks, Grandpa, don't follow them. And, I bet you wouldn't have such a fat belly if you didn't drink so much Pepsi, Grandpa. And, if you don't have enough money to go to the dollar store, just stop at the bank and get some more! And, you better let that fire go out, Grandpa, or Santa Claus won't come to your house."
Kids can be funny. "If you don't stop teasing me, I'm going to get a complexion. I'm going to be a cowboy if I get a horse in time. When I grow up, I want to be nothing, just like mom. I'm going to eat all my potatoes and get big like Grandma. And, if your dog could talk, Grandpa, you'd have a talking dog."
And then, kids can teach us a lot about God and religion too. One of my precious little granddaughters insisted this past Christmas that we bake a cake, blow out the candles, and sing happy birthday to baby Jesus. Set with a background of bright Christmas lights and decorations, it was one of the most spiritual Christmas observances I've ever experienced.