This past Thanksgiving Weekend was a very special one for me and my family. On Saturday, November 28, 2015 at 12:31 p.m., we welcomed into the world a healthy 8 lbs. 1 oz. Jackson Edward Wagner, my first grandchild, woo-hoo!
Let me tell you that the immediate relationship or bond between a grandchild and grandparent is a such a special one, it is indescribable!
In my view, grandparents act as an authority figure and provide unconditional love. They also get to spoil their grandchildren in a way parents simply can’t comprehend (or don’t want to comprehend, HA!). But beyond that, I believe grandparents also wield tremendous influence. Here are six things I hope my grandson can learn from his granddad.
We all have those old black and white pictures of unknown relatives, but grandpa may actually know where they were taken and who those folks are. Jackson Edward will fully know his family tree — who his siblings, parents, great grandparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. are or were, and their connections to the history of the world and Nebraska. I think it’s extremely important to learn about the people who came before us and forged a family whom we know today. Jackson Edward will come to know that his middle name was the first name of his grandfather and the middle name of his great-grandfather. He will find that individual stories are much easier to remember than lists of names and dates from genealogical work. Personally, I loved hearing about how my grandparents grew up, what they enjoyed doing and how it was different from my childhood.
2. A New Skill Set
When I was growing up, I learned skills such as target shooting, hunting, fishing, canoeing, farming, gardening and cooking. These are great things I plan to pass on to Jackson Edward. Some of these are hardly taught anymore, but are still highly useful talents to possess. And, I have learned things in my lifetime that have proved helpful in everyday life. Take house cleaning, for example. I have effectively cleaned and polished quite a few hardwood floors in my time. I also will help Jackson learn how to recycle and reuse various items and not just discard them. My grandparents experienced The Great Depression and taught me to never waste anything – and it helps to save a lot of money, and reduce trash in landfills, too!
3. Love of the Great Outdoors
I plan to install the love of the great outdoors – Nebraska’s great outdoors – into my grandson. Trips to local city parks, nearby state parks, public ponds and reservoirs, plus our family farm are sure to be great jumping off points for some exhilarating adventures and happy memories for Jackson Edward. Nature walks, fishing excursions and boat rides will be scheduled. Skimming flat rocks across the surface of lake water and building tree stick forts in the backyard will also be on our agenda. One thing I do know for sure is that we will start these outdoor activities when Jackson Edward is a toddler, and expand the horizon of them (target shooting, hunting, trapping, river kayaking, etc.) as he gets older.
Whether we spend time in the woods or on the water, my goals are to do a good job of explaining biodiversity, a good job of developing a deep appreciation for and knowledge of natural resources, and a good job of conveying how humans fit into the natural cycle.
4. Wisdom and Humor
I want Jackson Edward to be able to turn to me, his grandfather, for life lessons and other advice when needed. Most likely, I’ve lived through the same or a similar scenario – probably more than once and can lend some sage, ‘salty’ advice. Knowing how my grandparents dealt with problems in their lives, and knowing that they got through everything just fine, made me feel that I would be okay, too, when I was young. I will give the gift of humor to my grandson as well. Life isn’t as serious as we sometimes act like it is. Trust me, I know how to inject humor into everyday life and make it much more fun!
5. Fun Games
Ever played board games such as Life or Monopoly, or card games like Blackjack or Pitch? I know board games and card games have fallen out of style with the advent of video games, smartphones, etc. However, I want to show Jackson Edward what we did for fun when we were his age, especially when inclement weather kept us indoors. Who knows, he may discover a new favorite game!
6. Emotional Support
Having a sounding board who doesn’t spend every day with you, like a parent or guardian can be invaluable when you’re trying to navigate the young years. I want to be that sounding board for Jackson Edward, as my late-grandfather Francis A. Hintz was for me. Studies show that adolescents rely heavily on each other during their formative years and grandparents can serve as an impartial, additional source that can help them understand life events.
I, as a grandparent, come with years’ worth of wisdom and overwhelming love to share with my grandson. I will take the time to really get to know and learn from him. I will be patient. I will listen. I will cherish the time I get to spend with him, and, in turn, Jackson Edward should gain some insight and character that he can pass onto his own children and grandchildren someday. There’s no better way to pass on positive family traits than through time spent with one another, is there? Perhaps the dialogue will begin in the old deer hunting blind.