The Grandparents' Lament

Our six-year-old grandson wanted us to take him to see the Grinch movie on Friday, and he spent the night afterwards. The rain on Friday stacked my weekend workload, so I needed to rake leaves and wax a car on Saturday before winter sets in. However, I only got the leaves in the front yard because Sims wanted me to play soccer with him. An old man shouldn’t play soccer, but it was fun. The stiffness I felt the next day was a reminder that this was a better choice of Saturday projects.

Then I began to feel what might be called “the grandparents’ lament.” Grandparents take time to sit in the floor and play with toy cars, read books or play soccer in the back yard. When we’re parents we often don’t do this as much. Why? There’s always the pressure of work—climbing the corporate ladder—and feeling we must do more than anyone else at the company.

A friend once pointed out another anomaly; more years at the company bring more vacation days, but we need the vacation days when our children are at home, not when they’re grown!

A pastor I know was wiser than me. He arranged with his church that his work would entail morning and evening. He went home in the middle of the day, picked his daughters up from school and helped them with their homework since his wife’s work schedule was more rigid. Now in his 80s, his relationship with his daughters is exemplary, unlike some pastor families I’ve known.

Another man told me about a running argument with his wife when their children were small. She wanted a showplace yard, but there were bare spots with no grass where the children played.

“I can always grow grass,” he told her, “but I can’t always grow children.”

I suppose every parent looks back with some regret wishing we’d not become exorcised over things that in retrospect look trivial or stayed at the office longer than needed. We’d be better parents if we could go back and try again. But we can’t turn back the hands of the clock. What we can do is gently teach our children to learn from our mistakes. And we can spend time with our grandchildren, let them know they’re loved and guide them to faith in God.

A young person professed faith recently. She told me she’d been reading her Bible and began to think about becoming a Christian. And she said her Bible was a gift from her grandmother.

We boomers can’t do much about our past misjudgments, but we can ask God in our senior years to make us loving encouragers to others.