There are some things in life you can’t explain, and you don’t really want to. Take being a grandparent, for example. It’s the perfect job. A grandparent has all the authority — at least in his mind — but none of the responsibility. You get invited to take part in all the good things that come along, from birthday parties to ballet recitals, but don’t have to deal with daily trials that come with raising a child. That’s what moms and dads are for.
And if you want to give a grandkid doughnuts for breakfast or candy before dinner, well, it happens. As my father once told me, that’s the “grand” part of being a grandparent.
So, how did being a grandparent get to be so special? I don’t know and I don’t care.
What I do know is that at 7:51 p.m. on Jan. 25, 2022, I became a grandfather. That’s when my first grandchild, August Atkinson – all 8 pounds, 7 ounces of her – was born in a Jacksonville Beach hospital. Needless to say, she’s gorgeous and sweet as can be. (I say that with the utmost objectivity).
The wife and I spent several days visiting August and her parents a couple weeks back and I got to hold my granddaughter a lot. She’s grown so much over the past couple months. As I rocked her and walked around with her on my shoulder, I thought about the world she will inherit from her grandfather and the rest of his generation.
I mean, we’re on the verge of World War III. Climate change is more real than most of us ever expected. Racial tensions and economic disparities are omnipresent. The list goes on.
Yet, I look at August and I am comforted knowing she will one day be part of making the world a better place. I have unshakable faith in that notion. Humans are basically decent and humane, and if August is any reflection of her parents, she’ll make a difference in meaningful ways.
They say children are born without prejudice. So, whatever a child learns about the world and how to interact with all kinds of other people, comes from others – parents and grandparents and the community in which they grow up. Yes, it takes a village.
So, as I held August, I talked to my daughter, Cait, assuring her that I would not tell her how to parent because the world in which August will grow up is so different than the one Cait grew up in and certainly different than the one I grew up in. Then, of course, I proceeded to invoke grandparent privilege and give her parenting advice for an hour. She listened politely. Thank you, Cait.
But a grandparent does offer, if not wisdom, real world experience. And some things never change. There will always be good and bad. There will always be people in need. There will always be things that determine the direction of your life over which you have absolutely no control yet must confront and make the best of.
I don’t know what difficulties or victories August will encounter in life. She will have her share of both, I ‘m sure. But I will offer her this bit of advice – and it’s good at any age, from 2 to 82, and in any era. It can’t miss.
Live by the Golden Rule. That is, treat others as you would want them to treat you. It’s good whether you’re on the playground or in the classroom or at a boardroom conference table. It will make a difference in your life, a positive difference, to be sure.
Oh, there’s plenty of other advice I’d love to offer … and undoubtedly will in the years ahead. But for now, August, you have a family that loves you and a world that needs you. Just be good to others and be good to yourself and life will reward you.
Welcome to the world, August. It’s already a better place because of you.