September 11, 2023 at 6:50 a.m.

The Honor of Taking Care of Grandchildren

By DAVID WEBSTER | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

After thirty-six years of teaching fifth graders at Hope Elementary with a superb team and being extremely thankful for the Hope community, a significant amount of my time has been devoted to taking care of my two grandsons, Gibson and Rowan. Interestingly, both of their parents are teachers.

As shared in another article, I could sense hesitation on their parts when volunteering to watch Gibson when he was a baby and understandably. I then reminded my daughter that much time was spent with her, that I was the first dad in Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corporation to take advantage of the twenty-day paternity leave in our contract, a clause I will always be appreciative of due to being able to help my wife, Lisa, and to observe the many changes in a baby during that period.

Admittedly, I was pleased and relieved when Lisa became somewhat envious of my new position and retired from teaching fourth graders at Schmitt Elementary after thirty-two+ years and joined me after the first year. “Kids” are a lot of responsibility whether you are in a classroom or in a home as a parent or grandparent. (And I now have even more reasons to stress the importance of keeping class size low as I have for many years in letters and speeches.)

Our daughters, Bethany and Haley, were young children in the nineties. Even though there are definitely differences in taking care of little girls in the nineties and little boys twenty-five+ years later, many things are the same. I have compiled a list below:

*They need a lot of care including numerous diaper changes and lots of milk. (Changing a diaper can lead to an interesting experience or two for the changer; I will always remember a steady stream shooting toward me when changing one for a grandson as well as his smile of relief and my relief when it whizzed by my head.)

*You never know where medicine, even cleverly disguised, will end up once attempting to place it within their mouths; it is often a battle of wills with a short break often needed by both parties.

*Potty training is different for each child, as well as all the related stories. (One looked at the deposits afterward and talked about a family.)

*Attention span for a toy is not nearly as long as for a good show or tech game. (I recently read a book which included the hours of research involved observing children playing with toys and watching shows in order to attract and keep their attention. There should be more research involved observing students taking standardized tests and how they are reacting.)

*Children will walk into a store's toy department and immediately point to what they have seen in a show or advertisement.

*Trips to the local library are welcomed as well as holding their small hands while crossing a street. Bedtime stories and songs provide wonderful snuggle times and memories.

*A playground can provide hours of entertainment, and slides and swings seem to be enjoyed the most while it does not take long for them to discover a variety of ways to play on each.

*A big box will always rank as one of the best toys and cheapest; a makeshift tent with sheets is just as good if not better than one purchased.

*Chalk, crayons, and markers present all kinds of creative opportunities and may even appear on an unexpected wall. (It is difficult to get angry when a cross on a wall appeared, and it still remains.)

*There will be battles for the same toy no matter how many toys are in the house.

*Fortunately, children were made to tolerate accidents because, no matter how hard you try, you can't keep them from happening; for example, there is a learning curve in realizing it is harder to drive a tricycle on gravel as opposed to concrete. (At times, it is better to just let them figure it out.)

* They will make messes, and a change of clothes needs to be available and accessible wherever you go. (I really like the philosophy of Becky Crowder, Morning Star Preschool teacher: “We will do our best to minimize accidents, but honestly some of the most fun and learning happens when you make the biggest messes.”)

*Hearing “Grandpa” for the first time is just as good as hearing “Dad” for the first time. It never gets old hearing those two words, and “I love you” makes it even better!

Gibson is now in kindergarten, and Rowan is in preschool. My time with them is significantly decreasing, but I know they are with people who care deeply about them as individuals and students. It has been a great honor holding each in my arms as babies and watching them develop, and I am very appreciative of their parents granting me the opportunity. I am confident Gibson and Rowan will find their way through this world and make it a better place.