Elizabeth Willis Barrett
One of my daughters and her husband had a chance to go on a great vacation if I could come up to their home in Utah to watch their five boys and one baby girl. How could I ever say no to that? So I went and for the most part things went really well. I got a little frustrated when I couldn’t figure out how to get to the Hogle Zoo, but we found the Dinosaur Museum at Thanksgiving Point and that was a good enough substitute.
On our ride home, I noticed a store I wanted to peruse quickly, so I left the kids on the store’s large front lawn and ran in and out of the establishment in about a minute. As I was leaving and the clerk saw my absolutely beautiful children on the lawn, she made a comment that I’ve had to think about deeply ever since. “What cute kids,” she said. “I bet you spoil them rotten, don’t you?”
I looked at her quizzically, like I didn’t understand what she was talking about. Spoil them rotten? “No,” I said. And that ended that pleasant conversation.
Why would anyone want to spoil their grand kids rotten? I know it is just a saying and the clerk was only looking for something to chat about, but in reality I have no desire to spoil them. I don’t have the energy, the money, or the inclination to do it.
Maybe it’s because I have 17 of the little darlings and if I spoil one I’d have to spoil them all. Also, kids already have so much. I’d add the word “today,” but that would make me sound like one of those people who always refers to the past as the good old days, and I don’t think they were. But wouldn’t you say that most kids seem to have an overabundance of things? You can give them a birthday present and by the evening they don’t even know where the pieces are and don’t really care because they have so many other presents to play with. You could load them up with new clothes, which they’d welcome if they were the right brand, but mothers already have baskets full of dirty laundry and rooms strewn with pants and shirts and socks and shoes.
I love my grand kids. They are precious to me. I don’t want anyone spoiling them. I have a grandmother friend who boasts of her spoiling. “I let little Missy and Sonny have whatever they want when they’re with me–even candy for breakfast,” she says. Not me. I love teaching them and guiding them and helping them make right choices. I think parents need all the help they can get to raise happy, moral kids. And who is in a better position to help than grandparents?
As these little ones are getting older, my favorite thing to do is talk to them and find out how they think and what is going on at school and how they feel about things. When I get to be with one of my fourteen year old grandsons and he’ll talk to me like a friend, I am ecstatic!
I love teaching these exceptional children–games, music, reading, math, and about our Heavenly Father who loves them. I don’t do it as often as I’d like–teach them, I mean. Sometimes when the teacher is ready, the student isn’t and vice versa. But I’m working on it. I want to give them loving memories that they can hold on to when life gets a little tough.
I am still learning to be a grandmother–the kind I’d like to be. It takes time and planning. Maybe by the time I’m a great grandmother I will finally be great at it. But in the meantime, I don’t see any need for spoiling.