I have no biological grandchildren but my wife lets me use hers. Julie has three grandsons and two granddaughters.
In the past few weeks I’ve had an opportunity to spend some time with all five of them ̶ two in Madison, Wisconsin, and three in Orange City, Iowa.
The Wisconsin grandkids recently moved there from Arizona. The Orange City grandkids are Northwest Iowa natives.
I am of the belief that it is the duty of grandparents (and grandparent surrogates) to spoil their grandchildren. Hence, I make it a habit to pick up inexpensive gifts for the children each time we go to visit them.
Lincoln of Wisconsin, pushing 3½ years, is an articulate little guy. On a recent visit I took him and his six-month old sister, Hannah, each a solar garden light with the bulb inside a resin puppy’s head. When the light comes on at night, it shines from within the puppy head. (Come to think of it, that’s sort of creepy. I hope I don’t cause any nightmares.)
Lincoln’s family just moved into a new home and I thought this was something they could put in their new backyard. Lincoln pointed out where he wanted his puppy solar light placed and I inserted the stake into the ground. This was shortly before noon.
I tried to explain that the light wouldn’t come on until it got dark that night. He wanted me to sit with him in lawn chairs to look at the puppy light. After about five minutes he said, “I think it’s getting dark already.” He said it again a few minutes later.
He wasn’t excited to learn that darkness was still at least nine hours away. Beyond the creepy factor, I came to realize that a gift requiring that kind of patience was not the best idea.
For the first time Lincoln commented on our size differences. At 6’7” I am a giant to him. He mentioned this several times and again after lunch.
I casually said he could call me Goliath. As soon as I said “Goliath” this dear little boy told me the story of David and Goliath, pointing out that David had placed his trust in God and God helped him bring down the giant and that we should always place our trust in God.
I knew the story well but I’ve never heard it told more sweetly and convincingly than that day, especially by a 3-year-old who already knows he should place his trust in God. With regret I silently acknowledged that it has taken me more than 60 years to fully appreciate his excellent advice.
On Independence Day Julie and I drove to Orange City to spend the holiday with the Northwest Iowa grandkids (and their parents, of course.) Eliza, 8, Wyatt, 6, and Beckett, 4, know that Arvid comes bearing gifts.
Julie and I were enthusiastically greeted by the trio. I carried a box of miscellaneous items, including their gifts, into the house and straightaway sat in an easy chair with the box on my lap. All three children gathered around the chair with smiles of anticipation.
Eliza broke the ice. “What’s in the box, Arvid?” she asked sweetly. I gave each of them a solar light ̶ puppy heads for the boys and a butterfly in a glass jar for the girl.
Meanwhile, I had found a bargain at a local store just a few days earlier so I also gave the boys a rubber dinosaur hand puppet and Eliza a gift more appropriate for a young lady. All three expressed joyful thanks.
After lunch the boys sat on my lap at various times and we had good conversations. They enjoy getting a little rough and, as the oldest of four boys, I can handle it. At one point, though, Beckett was climbing on me and stepped hard on my generous midsection.
“Go easy on my stomach,” I warned. “Why?” Beckett asked earnestly, “do you have a baby in there?”
I assured him there was no baby in my stomach and he continued climbing.
When you’re 70 years old and your own kids are in their 40s, it’s easy to forget what goes on in little boys’ heads. I am enjoying rediscovering the sincere and innocent things little boys will say.