By Dr. James L. Snyder
As circumstance would have it, and I like to give circumstances due credit, I was visiting my grandchildren without the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage.
Normally, if there is such a status, my wife travels with me when we visit the grandchildren. However, when she is along I do not have a chance. I will not say that she hogs the grandchildren, she does, I just will not say so. As a husband, I know when to speak my mind and when to mind my speaking. The inexperienced husband does not know the difference and pays for it.
With the opportunity before me to go solo with the grandchildren, I determined to make the best of it. I never know when this kind of a situation will repeat itself. When my wife is with me, she always holds the reins, but now I have nobody to curtail my visit with the grandchildren. I am a freelance grandpa.
What many people may not know are the rules governing the successful grandfather. Most people do not know these rules because the most prominent grandparent is usually the grandmother. I'm not complaining, just explaining. Somebody needs to explain this and the sooner the grandfather knows and understands these rules the sooner he can enjoy exploiting his role as grandpa.
The first rule that should be understood is simply this: whatever makes the grandchildren happy makes the grandfather happy. This brings out the unselfish nature of grandfatherhood. It is a wise, not to mention a happy, grandfather who invests his resources in making the grandchildren happy, whatever it takes. I say invest because there are marvelous dividends to be reaped.
This is perhaps the greatest burden the grandfather has to shoulder. Everybody knows how difficult it is to make and keep the children happy. In addition, during the grandfather's visit it should be one long happy adventure.
Another rule associated with grandfathers is rather basic. Jellybeans ARE fruit. Anybody with any kind of common sense can see the different colors of jellybeans and understand that they represent fruit. It is the dutiful responsibility of a grandfather to have an endless supply of jellybeans on his person at all times. After all, children do need their fruit.
While on the subject of food, another rule has to do with vegetables. Every grandfather knows that vegetables are not all that grandmothers say they are. And broccoli...is absolutely forbidden when grandpa is at the table. Another important aspect of eating at the table is, cleaning up everything on your plate is not necessary.
Also, when grandpa is at the table the order of the dinner is drastically changed. For example, the dessert should be eaten first because of the danger of eating too much and not having enough room for the dessert at the end of the meal.
When going out to a restaurant together for a meal there is another rule that is most crucial. This is something dear to my heart and something I wish to pass on to my grandchildren. Simply put, it is this, a straw has many functions. And the beautiful thing about a straw is it comes with its own supply of ammunition. There are many wonderful things to be done with a "loaded straw."
Another grandpa rule is that noise is welcome and since grandpa is a little hard of hearing, the louder the better. A grandchild yelling like a wild banshee is the music of the gods. And the most important part of this music is all the grandchildren should be yelling at the same time. This idea of taking turns is something that only grandmothers think up.
With the children's health in mind, this next rule is crucial. Jumping on the furniture is good exercise, especially when grandpa hits the ceiling with his head. And because of the great deal of laughter involved in such exercise, it adds to their health and longevity. I read somewhere where laughter adds to your life. Whether it is true or not is immaterial, the fact is children need to laugh and laugh a lot. Grandmothers do not understand.
Then, as long as grandpa is staying overnight, bedtime is merely a goal. This idea of having an exact bedtime is not healthy, especially when grandpa is visiting. Bedtime should be a negotiable commodity, not something that is an exact science. What does science have to do with going to bed at night? Leave science at school where it belongs.
There is one last rule that I need to mention. Grandpa's rules trump everyone else's rules... except grandma's, which is why grandpa needs to visit the grandchildren by himself occasionally.
Understanding the rules enables everybody to enjoy the time together. Without rules, there would be chaos. With grandpa's rules, the chaos is a marvelous harmony of joy, excitement and fun. Every grandchild needs a grandpa who understands the grandpa rules and who has the opportunity to exploit those rules.
There is one rulebook that I go by implicitly. That is the Bible. It is the most profitable book I have ever discovered. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
When you know the rules of life, it becomes a wonderful and exciting adventure.
Dr. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, and lives with the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage in Ocala, FL. Call him at 352-687-4240 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The church web site is www.whatafellowship.com.
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