There is a picture of my daughter next to an overturned raft, hair plastered over her eyes, mouth wide open, that still makes us laugh. “I’ve never had a boat flip,” the guide had said. What makes the story even more interesting is that it wasn’t my husband and I with her in the boat — it was my parents. Grandparents should not be overturning in white water! My nephews were caught under the capsized boat in the seat hole, and the eleven year old, Gabe, talked the nine year old, Caleb, through the rapids. It was a day and an experience they all will never forget.
While white water rafting has been cut from the activity list, my parents still take their grandkids on a special trip when they turn age 10. They like to take cousins together, so they pair whatever cousins are closest to 10 in age. This year, my 11 year old niece went with my 10 year old son. The destination? Glacier National Park and The Cheff Ranch in Montana.
If there is one things we do, it is family. We plan big and spend as much time as we can all together. But there are also 10 grandkids. And it’s controlled chaos when all 18 of us are together – adults and children. So when my parents get to single one or two of their grandchildren out and spend a week with just them, it allows them to see deeper into who each child really is and who they are apart from their siblings and cousins. It gives them a binocular look into their interests, their quirks, their ways of thinking, what is in their heart, and what they care about.
They get to see the whole person, not just a piece.
And from the child’s perspective? Well, that is something pretty special when your grandparents single you out and want to take a trip with just you. No parents. No siblings. I believe that 20 years from now, when I ask my children about their growing up years, this trip will be on their highlight reel.
Kids act differently when they are not with their parents. They usually whine less, try new things, and open up to others more. They also act differently when they are not in their normal “role” or birth order in the family. Their siblings are not there to weigh in with their opinions, to speak for them, or squabble with them. Their individual, truest selves come to the surface.
Nothing can buy that. No price tag can be put on it. It’s only bought through time, intention, and the one thing that trumps all others: LOVE.
What my parents are doing is putting skin on love. They are making it real.
Legacy is not built overnight. It is a granite mountain of small and big moments over many years time that all come together to create invisible connection between generations. And it is invaluable to our sense of place in the world.
Someday, my husband and I will take this tradition and do it with our own grandkids. We will walk sandy beaches, climb tall rocks, fish in babbling streams, and build memories one grandchild at a time.
We’ve seen its magic, and we’re not missing it for the world.
What traditions do you have in your family
between grandparents & grandkids?