The joys of being a grandparent

April 2019
Mark Eisenberg

There once was a Zadie named Marcus
Whose grandkids raced all round the parkus
As he climbed through the trees
With kids hugging his knees
Exhausted, he fell on his carcass.

Any of us over the age of 65 know that nature was wise in making child rearing the domain of the young.  As much as Bubbies, Zadies, Sabas and Saftas, Grandpas, Grandmas and Papas who have been blessed with grandchildren love them to bits, it is with a smile of relief that we bid them farewell at the end of the day.

Yet the magic of that sacred bond that reconnects us to days gone by is a priceless gift indeed. It is a gift to the sometimes beleaguered parents juggling mile long to do lists, and to our grandkids who delight in the anticipation of being spoiled while regular routines are occasionally thrown to the wind,  and for us alter kackers,  it’s an opportunity to share a small bit of the substance of our wisdom we’ve gleaned over the course of a lifetime.  That wisdom can take a myriad of forms.

Whether the grandkids live in Vancouver or Vienna, between the yearly visits perhaps it’s a delicious dose of a bedtime Skype or Face Time story.  In our prehistoric pre-internet era, we could scarcely have imagined seeing one another as we shared time together online.

As my wife and I are blessed with children and four grandchildren who call Hamilton home, for us and our machatonim, the joy is in being able to pick up the monkeys at daycare, sharing a spontaneous dinner or running to the rescue.  

For me it’s the opportunity to be a kid again, to invent goofy games, to  build a fort with the sofa cushions and to, accidentally on purpose, break a good number of the rules.

Last summer, with my son and son-in-law, we led Talia — age 5 and Mataya—age 2 on a four-day wilderness canoe trip to Killarney. Memorable is an understatement.

If you are of the “glass half empty” persuasion, you’ll relish the story of our rolling down the van windows and cranking the rock music way up to drown out the screaming of an overtired toddler.  

If on the other hand, when camping, you tend to pitch your tent in the “glass half full” camp site, I'll bet you’ll smile from ear to ear knowing that the bonds of trust, camaraderie and love nurtured during those four perfect summer days, will last a lifetime.

You will also tend to focus on:

The yelps of delight on catching and releasing your first fish; the realization that courage in the face of the unknown opens you to new vistas of endless possibility; the truth that heaven on earth is bathing in the mystery of a star-studded sky after a fire-roasted feast of steak and 'taters and a healthy dose of s'mores; the freedom of tossing aside your diaper while scrambling down the rocks into the cool, crystalline water.

Raise your glass (preferably a fine single malt) to chapter two of a summer saga that will become an enduring family tradition, as you intone the elder campers prayer: "Lord, spare me the burden of the ignoble diaper, as I traipse humbly and incontinence-free through the forest forever." 

Whatever your personal heaven may entail, here’s to sharing it with your children and grandchildren, or simply volunteering with one of our fine community organizations who will appreciate your unique take on life.