When I was a kid, my dad worked a lot of hard long hours and was the bread winner. He provided a nice house, 2 cars, vacations, lots of Seattle Mariner games, and great Christmases and birthdays. You could say we were middle to upper middle class. My mom chose to work and her paychecks were hers to do with what she wanted. We rarely saw her.
My sister and I were latch key kids, unless we were with my grandparents.
Almost all school breaks and summers were spent at my grandparent’s home in the foothills of Mt. Hood in Oregon. It was my grandparents who taught us to do things like garden, cook, sew, fish, fix things, clean something well, be helpful and kind to elderly neighbors and respect all adults. They taught us about the historical times they lived through, such as The Great Depression, WWII, the assassination of President Kennedy, and when man first landed on the moon.
They let us come with them everywhere, even to their part time jobs. My grandmother was a part time property manager in the community they lived in and my grandfather had his own handyman and home security business. We learned everything about both trades…All of this while still in grade school.
If my sister and I got in a quarrel or misbehaved they gave us consequences that were appropriate in duration and relative to the crime, and never out of their own anger or frustration. They never shamed us. No matter what I did they always made me feel significant and accepted.
Grandparents are one of the most valuable gifts you can give to your children. Grandparents have learned a lot in their lifetime through time, trials, testing, and especially after screwing up their own kids. Something magical happens when they reach their golden years and the younger, stronger generations kicks them out of the race. They begin to take stock of their lives… And it seems that even those one might least suspect come to realize what’s really important in life; their future generations, and what kind of character, values, and legacy they leave them with.
My grandparents got this when they were as young as 50. They were completely selfless, invested, and loving, and taught my sister and I more than we would have ever gained from two working parents or a hired child care provider.