A friend once said to me that the only thing we can really give our kids is memories.  I had to agree.  When I think about this, it helps me put everything in perspective about buying things for kids vs spending time with them and how to balance all of it.  One thing grandparents know oh so well is how fast time flies.  When kids are little, parents think they will never outgrow acting like….well, acting like kids.  My mother once told me that there aren’t many little babies.  Absolutely true…they just don’t stay little very long.  They just don’t stay anything very long because they are growing and learning and changing at lightning speeds.  It’s all a blink in time.

Being obsessed with time lately, I’d been thinking about my grandchildren and how little time I have left with them..  I’m not going anywhere, but they sure are.  The oldest one is 15 1/2 and just got his learner’s permit.  The oldest three are all over 6′ tall.  They’re starting to date and have their own activities and jobs.  Where was I fitting into any of this?

I’m very lucky to have all eight of my grandkids in town.  I watch my friends flying all over the country to visit their families and be a part of their lives.  I can’t begin to say how much having my family here has meant to me as I have ventured into each of the new chapters of my life…widow, new jobs, loss of my son, and now retirement.  Having them here is my strength and my joy.  The times we all get together are the best with a noisy jumble of families and activities.  I absolutely love watching them interact and enjoy each other.

BUT…I wasn’t spending any time with the kids.  When we are all together, they are talking to each other.  I go to their games, their assemblies, see them at family gatherings and take them on special outings.  They range in age from 11-15 with a three year old thrown in the mix.  Six boys and two girls.  What did they think about me?  What did they know about their grandfather?  What did I know about them?  So, I decided to start taking at least one of them to dinner each week – just the two of us.  I’m on my second round of dinners now.  It’s random – I pick a night I’m not busy and call one of them until I find one who wants to go.  They’re under no obligation to have to go at any time.

The first time around, they didn’t know what to think.  I let them pick the restaurant that time and learned a whole lot of new information.  Who knew that two of them like sushi so much?  Not me.  This time around, I’m introducing them to new places.  The conversations are wonderful.  We talk about everything imaginable and I answer questions on anything they ask.  And they do ask.  They ask about all kinds of things in the world and want to hear what I say.  How great is that?!  I hear about school and their friends and what’s up in their worlds.  I don’t judge, but sometimes give a loving comment.

The outcome of the dinners, which are the grandest way to spend time I can think of, is that we all love it.  They have all gone home to tell their parents how much they liked it.  They can’t wait for the next one.  I know them better and am prouder of them than ever.  They are incredibly nice, kind, smart young people and I am so proud of their parents for the job they have done.  Can there be anything better than this?  It’s a two way street for learning and loving.   How lucky can I be?

Time…it’s what we have to give each other.