Grandparents, faith and laughter

“The reason grandchildren get along so well with their grandparents,” I heard someone say, tongue firmly planted in cheek, “is that they have a common enemy.”

Our six live about an hour from us. Fortunately, on (almost) all things, the Preacher and I and their parents agree. We feel blessed that God has provided a unique opportunity in these years of nearby grandparenting. A brief window of time in which we hope to contribute much to our grandchildren’s emotional and spiritual health. However long that window is open, we’ll do our best to keep the connection strong.

Not often, but sometimes, when a visit leaves both the Preacher and me exhausted, I understand those grandparents who spend their winters far from the action back home. I suspect that my daughter and son-in-law may have sometimes also wished for that.

Once at my house one of the girls started singing, for the gazillionth time, “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens…”

At that point, a cheeky mental gremlin pried opened my mouth and interrupted with a spur of the moment revision:

“Thorns on my roses and fleas on my kittens; rust in my kettle and holes in my mittens. Wild geese that poop on my yard in the spring, these are a few of my least favourite things….

“When the dog’s nice, when the birds sing, when I’m feelin’ glad, I simply remember my least favourite things, and then I just feel SO bad!”

The children roared – then sang that the rest of the day.

I should have suspected what would happen when the song flew home. On their next visit, one of the smaller children, in solemn pulpit tones, said, “Nana, Mama said she doesn’t want to hear the Thorns on my Roses song anymore. She said it’s RUINED for her FOREVER. And we’re not allowed to sing it at our house anymore. Ever. NEVER.”

Since we have no such house rule, my impromptu remix, thorns and fleas, rust and holes (including the Beans’ absolute favourite part about goose poop) gets sung at our place often. I’ve sentenced myself to hear it forever. I’ll go to my grave with a crushing burden of grandmother-guilt. (Can you see me smiling?) Well-deserved, I accept, because, honestly, what good grandmother would dare mess with classic lyrics, especially those sung by the incomparable Julie Andrews in one of the most beloved movies of all time?

I sometimes wonder about Jesus’ connection with his maternal grandparents, Anne and Joachim. Given the interconnectedness of Jewish families, I imagine the relationship was strong, and that his grandparents contributed much to Jesus’ exceptional spiritual strength and growth during his time on earth.

Jesus’ words in the Bible include frequent humour. Considering that, I also like to think that his childhood included laughter and teasing, joy and fun. And just perhaps a little bit of grandmothering mischief.