Dear Grandparenting: One of the major joys of being a grandparent is sharing the world with grandchildren as they explore and learn about new things. Seeing the world through a child’s eyes with a child’s heart can make you feel young again yourself, if only for a little while. For me this has always been a peak experience. I remember the thrill I got helping my grandson Ben catch his first little fish on a farm pond when he was five. He thought it was magic. He was carrying on and jumping up and down and we bonded right then and there.
That was seven years ago. Now I have a second batch of young grandchildren coming along. They are very, very different. They act like they know they more than I do about darn near everything. I asked the boy if he wanted to go fishing. He is six years old. That’s boring, he said. I said, how do you know that? He told me it’s “just too easy.” The other day he told me that carrots “make you stop growing.” Case closed, I guess. His sister treats my wife like she’s a dummy too. It is very disrespectful. Their mother is my youngest daughter. She just throws her hands up in the air and tells us to let them do their own thing. Can you explain to me what makes my grandchildren think they are so smart and we are not? It is very baffling to say the least. What’s going on? Moran Everson, Philadelphia, Pa.
Dear Moran: There are many domains wherein we presume young grandchildren are more knowledgeable. We defer to them about storybooks, dinosaurs, dolls, candy, their schools and celebrity culture as it pertains to the young set. But when the conversation moves on to how the world at large works, grandparents are the mentors and grandchildren the novices, not the other way around. It’s one thing for grandchildren to have differences of opinion, quite another to act like know-it-alls. It gets very old very quickly.
How can one explain grandchildren being so authoritative about matters they have little or no experience with? Here’s what we suspect is going on. Young children often overestimate their knowledge — perhaps the by-product of the self-esteem movement in American society that teaches children they are special. At that tender age, they don’t know enough to know how very little they really know, and become unreceptive or dismissive to matters outside their immediate comfort zone. It’s the reverse of what wise grandparents acknowledge in the twilight of their years — that they have just scratched the surface of what life has to offer.
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GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Fran from Lake Stevens, Wash. often wears a T-shirt with “TGIF” inscribed across the front. In most people’s minds, TGIF stands for Thank God It’s Friday. When Fran wears it on a different day of the week, people often attempt to set her straight.
“Perfect strangers come up and tell me it’s not Friday,” says Fran. “I tell them I know that. Then I inform them that TGIF stands for This Grandma Is Fabulous.
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Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.