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Grandparenting as a Vocation
by Mary Ann Halloran
My husband and I recently visited my daughter and her family in Washington State and my son and his family in Montana. We spent lots of time with our grandchildren while there. They are lots of fun, and we had a wonderful time together. As I was with them, I realized that being a grandparent is not only a great joy but also a vocation.
Sure, grandparenting includes getting those treats for them and all that fun stuff, but I mostly see the importance of "passing on" to them who we are and what we know. For example, I enjoyed telling them stories of when I was young and stories about when my kids (their parents) were young. I told both funny and serious stories, and I found they were very interested in all of them.
Recipes are another fun thing to pass on so grandkids can learn to make those dishes and serve them for the next generation to enjoy. They will say to their kids someday, "My grandma used to make this for us."
I love reading books to my grandchildren. Besides reading new books that are out, I also enjoy reading books that I read as a child or that I used to read to my children. The grandchildren love them just the same. Good books also make great gifts.
Games that are not so popular anymore, I have found fun to pass on. I have taught my grandchildren to jump rope, play jacks, play tiddly-winks, 4-square, marbles, hula hoops, and how to use a yo-yo. These may seem old-fashioned but they seem to love it. I’ve had them playing with the yo-yo for some time trying out some new tricks. I’ve also made and flown paper airplanes (made from magazine pages) with them.
This concept really hit home with me a few years ago when I was at my grandchildren's school. I had taught my granddaughters (and my grandsons quickly wanted to join in also) the clapping-hand game of Miss Mary Mack. (Some of you may have heard of it. If not, you can see it on YouTube). Well, as I was sitting at the school lunch table with my granddaughter and her classmates, I found out that all the girls in her class knew how to play Miss Mary Mack. My granddaughter had taught each of them, and they proceeded to show me. One girl said to me, "Oh, are you the one who taught that to Deidra?" "Yes, I am, I said." One wanted to do it with me, so we did. I even learned that Deidra and one of the other girls did it in a school talent show. I thought to myself, wow, the gift of passing on.
Of course, the most important thing we can pass on is our faith.
We can stop at a church and say a prayer together, or say a prayer anytime with them.
When an ambulance zooms by, why not say a "Hail Mary" together for that person whom the ambulance people are helping.
We can share stories of how Jesus has helped us in our lives or how our guardian angels have helped us.
We can look at a pretty flower and say, "Only God can do that."
Or stop and help someone and afterward comment on how that made Jesus happy.
There are so many ways to pass on our faith. It's all intertwined in everyday life and doesn’t have to be a sit-down lesson.
So grandpas and grandmas, enjoy your vocation. You have an important role. Pass it on!
Mother Hen/Mary Ann