Our kids have been lucky enough to know 4 great-grandparents and 4 grandparents. My husband and I lived in to his grandmother’s granny suite when we were first married and stayed until she decided to move to a retirement facility with her bridge buddies. When she moved, we bought the house and my grandparents moved in. Our children were born while my grandparents lived there. Their other great-grandma still lived very close by, so we visited her constantly, plus she was present for all birthdays and holidays. We’ve since moved, and have lost some of the great-grandparents, but we moved next door to my in-laws and a few houses away from my mother. Our kids have always been surrounded by grandparents, and have always had the benefit of lots of love.
This is what I hope they learn from them:
Treat people with respect and kindness and dignity. Everyone deserves to be treated well. Sometimes they may not treat you well in return, but you will feel better knowing that you gave them a chance. It doesn’t matter what level of physical or mental ability, sexuality, race or economic status, everyone deserves to be treated with respect, kindness and dignity.
Be helpful. If you see somebody that needs help, help them. It’s that simple. I could be something small, like holding a door for someone pushing a stroller, or something big. If it is within your ability, provide the help.
Work hard. Believe me, there are a lot of people that don’t know how to work anymore. Knowing how to work and get dirty will help you later in life – you will have the skills needed to approach a problem, solve a problem, organize and you will not be afraid to just dive in. Get dirty. Learn to use a shovel.
Tell stories and listen to other people’s stories. Our families are good story tellers. You can learn a lot from them and be entertained by them at the same time. Often they unintentionally have some good advice or learning opportunities attached. And you have some historically significant figures in your family. Learn from them. Retell the stories to your kids.
Keep your family close. They will always love you, fight for you, and run to help you out in the middle of the night when you need it. It’s not always possible to stay close physically, but you can stay in touch easily with modern communication. Even your great-grandma has mastered Facebook and email.
Table manners are important. Sit up straight. Don’t talk with your mouth full. Keep your elbows off of the table. Use a napkin. Don’t reach. Chew slowly. Learn the order of utensils and when to use them. Put your utensils at 10 and 4 on your plate when you are finished, your hands in your lap and wait to be excused. If you learn proper table manners, you can go anywhere, anytime and feel comfortable at a meal.
Learn how to make something with your own hands. Learn a skill. Be creative. I could be woodworking, cooking, sewing, knitting or crochet. It doesn’t matter. Learn how to make things. It’s something that in the future you can fall back on as a hobby, as a calming activity, to make money or to save money.
Never stop learning. Read a lot. The more the know, the better equipped you will be to face life. You can keep learning even late in life. Don’t fall behind.