I am going to confess something here to other grandparents to maybe keep them from making a mistake that could hurt not only your grandchildren, but yourself as well.
We had planned a week long camping holiday with my eldest son and his children last summer. All the planning was done and we were all waiting for the big day to start. Plans changed not only the campground, but the entire feeling for the vacation when my younger sister died from brain cancer.
We went to a campground closer to my son’s home, because it was easier than cancelling the trip for the little ones who really wouldn’t have understood. Things went ok and they knew that I would be sad sometimes, so they really went out of their way to keep Grandma smiling. They were my sanity for the week.
Well, one day during the trip my eldest grandson was acting in my view like a bit of a jerk, and having a bad day myself I snapped at him. He left our site and went back to theirs all alone and crying. My son and his dad were just returning from fishing, so I left the other two with them and went to find my grandson.
He was sitting at the picnic table reading a book. I sat down on the same side, not touching him and I apologized to him for snapping. I explained that it was too hot, the funeral was horrible and seeing all those people I didn’t know just made me want to scream. I took it out on him and I was so sorry, could he forgive me.
Now he is only 10 years old, but he cares about people and truly tries to act properly.
But what is proper?
He started talking to me about how he was feeling. Some things he told me made me furious, for instance his dog that he had from the age of one had to be put to sleep a few months earlier. Some adult told him when he cried to grow up because it was just a dog.
To me that is just plain cruel. He saw that dog as his best friend. He also saw more of his dog than I did of my sister in that same 10 year span. I could cry and was actually told I should cry at the funeral but a little boy was not supposed to show the same emotion.
Another thing that came out was, everyone who knew his dad when he was a boy kept telling Sean how much he was like his dad. I for one was guilty as charged. He said he loves his dad but he didn’t want everybody to keep telling him how much he looked like him and how much he acted like him. Again guilty as charged.
We talked for about an hour and straightened out a lot of our feelings about life.
He was upset that he had spoiled my holiday by being a jerk. I explained that he would never spoil my holiday no matter what, so being a jerk for an hour was nothing at all.
We ended up hugging and were best friends again. It wasn’t the most comfortable time for at least the first 15 min. but it was so worth the ending.
I guess what I am saying is treat each child as an individual. They are not the little carbon copies of your own children. But most important, if you are in the wrong admit it to them. If you can forgive them, give them the chance to forgive you.
You will both feel much better after you clear the air.