There are certain advantages to being parents of adult children and in watching them raise their children. In fact, there are far too many to itemize. I love to hear our children talk about their childhoods, the things they did--some I remember, some I don't; some I'm learning for the first time. Today, some things don't seem like such a big deal and I can actually laugh at them aloud. Some of those things demanded a straight face in years past. It's fun to laugh and talk about things together. Yesterday several folks came into Sunday School laughing about some experiences Tommy shared in his children's sermon. They wanted to know if he really did those things (like painting the carport floor and giving the dog chewing gum which she spit out and got all imbedded in an Oriental area rug) and I said "Yes, and I'm sure there are more experiences I have yet to learn." It's all a part of growing up--laughable now; a bit more serious then.
We can also watch the grandchildren with a somewhat more relaxed attitude. I chuckled as Drew told me the unofficial stats of how many grapes in a row he, Sarah and Jacob could toss into the air and catch with their mouths before missing. Then he said, "You should see Jacob do a pop tart." I don't think his mom thought it was as funny as I did. Grandparents can laugh at things that parents often have to take more seriously. Often, when Marty and I are on the phone together, she will correct Christopher with a stern, "No sir. We don't do that." All the while I'm smiling and wondering what that sweet, innocent little boy could possibly be doing to warrant such a stern voice.
And, you know, I'm more grown up myself. I know that there is nothing more important than being available to a grandchild. Reading to Mer takes precedence over the evening news. Everything gets put aside when Elisa makes a bee-line toward you and grabs you around the legs. "I love you" takes on a whole new meaning when it comes from the mouth of a grandchild. As a grandparent I have the advantage of either having more time or taking more time when a child calls my name; as a grandparent I'm more tolerant and a lot more patient. I have stories to share and lessons to learn from each one of them.
Liz shared a Drew story with us yesterday. It seems that he and Jacob were having a brotherly squabble Saturday morning. Jacob was mad because he thought Drew got him in trouble and Drew was mad because Jacob was mad. (You know the vicious circle.) Jacob was planning to spend the night with a friend and had his bag out on the bed getting it ready. When he wasn't looking Drew saw his chance to get back at him. He took a pink teddy bear/blanket toy and hid it in Jake's bag under the top layer of clothes. I suspect Drew got the last laugh when the bear was discovered in the bag. I don't know I would have thought of doing something like that when I was six years old.
On a serious note, yesterday in Sunday School the teacher asked what would happen if you didn't obey God's commandments. Drew put his hand in the air to answer. He said, "If you don't do what God tells you to, you'll go straight to hell." I promise we do not preach hellfire and damnation to our Sunday School children, but his answer did make me think. My first thought was this great verse in Romans: The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Do we not more fully comprehend "grace" when we also understand that there are consequences for sin? Drew's answer says to me that he is learning that there is a difference between right and wrong and that God expects obedience from His children. It says to me that Drew understands that truly God hates sin. Right now he knows the first part of the Romans verse; in due time he'll embrace the gift of God and understand "grace." I had the great advantage of baptizing Drew and now have the advantage of watching him grow as a child of the covenant.