August 19 – Grandchildren as the fountain of youth

August 19. “Grandchildren are God’s way of compensating us for growing old.” (Mary. H. Waldrip)

I know I am a day late writing this entry. Frankly, I was avoiding it because I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to say about it. As I am starting this post, I am still not sure.

My wife and I are right at the beginning of being grandparents. It’s a role that we’ve been mentally and physically preparing for over the past few years. We have friends who are grandparents, and we have friends who have children under 10 years old. I have often said that my wife and I have taken the visits with these children as “grandbaby practice.” My wife, in particular, is fantastic in the role.

As with so many other life phases, we have had some great examples of what it means to be grandparents. We have watched our parents, and our friends as they have grown into being grandfathers and grandmothers. The joy and excitement they feel is fun to watch, and we are really getting into the feeling as well.

I think the reason I didn’t want to write about this was that whole “growing old” thing. I am the youngest child among my siblings by 11 years. I grew up as the “kid”, and enjoyed being the youngest at many things. Among some of our friends’ children, who are now well into their 30s, I even have the occasional nickname of “young Bob”, a reference to the fact that I can still hang with the sub-40 crowd.

While I mostly view age as just a number, I do get concerned about growing old. My mornings now have their share of aches and pains, and even some evenings I sit on the couch and play the “what does that pain mean” game with myself. I don’t want to become and old person, no matter what the calendar might say about my age.

To me there is a sense in this quote of resigning myself to the idea of growing old, and accepting that grandchildren will somehow make it all better. But that isn’t really my view of the world. In my opinion, grandchildren are what will keep my youthfulness alive. I cannot lie around and be an old guy when a toddler is demanding my attention. To be a good grandparent, and not just some iconic “rocking chair granddad”, I need to maintain my youthful vitality.

I don’t see grandchildren as compensation for growing old, rather I see them as a fountain of youth. My reflection for today is on how having grandchildren in my life will be the tonic that staves off truly growing old.

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