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Life Lessons from my Grandkids

Published in ChicagoNow, May 16, 2016

Having grandkids is a blessing for many reasons. They teach me far more than I teach them. Last weekend, I visited the Indiana gang of three, and I learned once again how young children have so many important life lessons to share if we only take the time to look. Over a short weekend, I was reminded of the importance of grit, creativity, kindness, and love in our lives.

I learned the grit lesson from my nine-year-old granddaughter who completed a mile-long swim in 27 minutes. That’s right, she swam without stopping for just under a half-hour. Should I mention that she is a child who is living with cystic fibrosis? Or that all of the other swimmers in this race were girls in middle and high school? My granddaughter is an amazing girl who has won many swimming awards, but we weren’t sure she would be able to swim a mile. Sheer grit and determination carried her to the finish line.

While she was swimming, my husband and I took her almost seven-year-old brother to his soccer game. Never having seen kids his age play soccer before, I’m not sure what I expected, but we cheered as he and his teammates noodled around in 42-degree temperatures and rain. I’ll confess that I didn’t learn much about the sport. But at home after the game was a different story. My grandson explained that he didn’t aspire to be a professional soccer player. Rather, he hoped to become a Lego master builder and design sets for kids that only cost $10 each. And if a kid didn’t have $10, the set would be less money or even free.

Bernie Sanders would be proud of his marketing plan. I told him it was very kind to make sure all kids could buy his sets. Then he showed me a robot and T-Rex he created on his own. Wow. I used to think all of those kits he assembles so quickly were not that creative, but I will admit it when I am wrong. He learned to follow directions and, after he took apart the builds from the kits (and lost many of the tiny Lego pieces to his little brother and the dogs), he made all sorts of interesting and intricate things on his own. I stand corrected and in awe.

All weekend, while his older siblings swam and built, their 3½-year-old little brother proclaimed he loved all of us. Constantly. If I read him a book, his response was, “I love you, Gramma.” He also professed great love for Grampa, Mom, and his older siblings. He was so sweet and persistent that all of us were constantly telling him we loved him too. And we did.

That little guy had a huge life lesson to share. He reminded us how important it was to love one another, and how important it was to say it. It’s the last part we often forget. So, having to spend the weekend telling each other of how much we loved our family members was an important lesson indeed.

In a short weekend visit, we tried to teach our grandkids the fundamentals of baseball. We googled a lot of information about snakes to answer our grandsons’ questions inspired by their playdough creations. My husband taught the older children how to use a real camera. But in the end, they taught us far more. Grit, creativity, kindness, and love – these life lessons will carry them much further than the things we tried to teach them or any facts they will learn in school.


by Laurie Levy
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