Are Your Grandchildren Keeping You Young or Making You Old?

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“An hour with your grandchildren can make you feel young again. Any longer than that, and you start to age too quickly.” – Unknown

Despite sleeping ten hours last night, I woke up feeling like a Mack Truck had hit me. Did I somehow run a marathon over the weekend and forget about it? Did I get in a fight with a grizzly and then develop amnesia? No, I am relatively sure I can blame this level of muscle pain and pure exhaustion on a five-year-old and a two-year-old, which leads me to the question, do grandchildren keep us young or make us prematurely old?

I’ll answer my own question. Grandkids do both; they keep us young and make us feel old. This past weekend we didn’t do anything too physical, nothing warranting this level of fatigue. We swam, played with Legos, read books, played with Legos, watched Disney plus, and played with Legos again. I’m fairly certain the creator of Legos wasn’t thinking of cardiovascular fitness when he designed these devices of torture; uh, I mean creativity. For this 64-year-old grandmother, playing with Legos is the equivalent of a day at the gym. The way my five-year-old grandson likes to play with Legos involves (too much) getting up and down off the floor and chasing each other with the Lego robots we’ve created.

While I’m in the midst of all this fun, I feel young. It’s the next day when I wake up with aches and pains and can’t remember why, when I feel very old. My daughter did not heed Rita Rudner’s advice on the timing of children when the comedian advised, “Have your children while your parents are still young enough to take care of them.”

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“The simplest toy, one which even the youngest child can operate, is called a grandparent.” – Sam Levenson

We’re the grandparents, not the parents, so it’s our job and our joy to play with the grandkids. If they were our children, we might say we’re too busy right now or tell them to entertain themselves. Grandparents are the ones who always make the time to give them time and attention. My five-year-old grandson spends the night with us every Saturday night and starts counting the days down until the next sleepover on Sunday evening. I’ll let you in on my secret if you promise not to tell Callister. Every Saturday night is too much for me. I love that kid, but I, too, count the days until our next sleepover, but with a kind of dread. A monthly sleepover, rather than every Saturday night, would be my choice. So why do I continue this schedule?

It was a simple comment an older woman with college-age grandkids made to me at a recent gathering that strengthened my resolve to continue. She said, “They won’t be young forever.” I felt ignorant. It was a head-slapping, “I could have had a V8 moment.” It sometimes feels like they will always be young, and I’ll forever be on the floor playing with them, cleaning up their spills, and helping them in the bathroom. Her remark reminded me that the years when my grandkids will want to spend the night are numbered. The stacks of books they bring me to read to them will soon be replaced by them reading to me. The tides will turn, the years will pass too quickly, and before you know it, they will be helping me.

For now, I’m building memories for my grandkids. They probably won’t remember all the experiences, but my hope is that they will remember the feeling of being deeply loved. Grandchildren benefit from having grandparents in their lives. Grandparents are able to give them a love that is undiluted by responsibilities. We get the pleasure of spoiling them (within reason) and not worrying about the consequences. Grandchildren benefit from having a grandparents’ unconditional love, time, and attention. We’re the extra layer of love and security children need in their lives. The middle generation benefits from getting an occasional break in parenting duties. It’s a win-win-win for all three generations.

If you see me hobbling around and looking like a complete mess on Mondays, you now know why. My exterior may look like a train wreck, but inside, my heart and soul got a little boost of youth and an infusion of the magical love only grandchildren can bestow. It may seem impossible, but the grandchildren are keeping me young while also making me old!

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“The best baby-sitters, of course, are the baby’s grandparents. You feel completely comfortable entrusting your baby to them for long periods, which is why most grandparents flee to Florida.” – Dave Barry

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Categories: Grand Life