© 2022 NPR Illinois
Stand with the Facts
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Raising children? Have to deal with someone else's? Considering a family?Let's talk kids!Claudia Quigg hosts this weekly reflection on best practices, experiences, and research related to child rearing and parenting. Thursdays at 12:50 PM and 7:50 PM

Let's Talk Kids: "An Ode To Grandpas"

Claudia Quigg headshot
NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

One grandfather I know was recently treated for a knee injury following a rather vigorous football match with his grandkids. Another used his vacation time to hike the Grand Canyon with a granddaughter. And yet a third taught his grandchildren to water ski on a recent vacation.

Many of today’s grandfathers are active and engaged with their grandchildren.  Grandpas seem to have traded rocking chairs for rock climbing, enjoying their grandchildren with more active pursuits.

“Enjoying” seems to be the operative word here, as these grandfathers find the same delight in their grandchildren that I believe my grandpas found in me.

Looking back on the two extraordinary men who fathered my parents, I feel great affection and gratitude.  But I recall when I was a child that I thought of them as, well, old.  I now realize they were brilliant men who were still contributing in a variety of ways.  But in my memory, their most enduring characteristic is the twinkle in their eye that appeared when we were together.  

And that twinkle persists in the grandfathers I know today.  These men exude vitality, having reached the height of their careers.  They enjoy the successes they’ve worked diligently to achieve.  They’ve learned many of life’s hard lessons, emerging stronger and wiser for them.  

But put them in the presence of their sweet grandchildren, and they puddle into Teddy bears, with sweet grins on their faces and twinkles in their eyes. Something about reaching a Certain Age and then having a child in their lives changes most men.  It’s as if life has pitched them an unexpected chance for joy.  Willard Scott once wrote, “Now that I'm a grandfather myself, I realize the best thing about having grandkids is that you get the kid for the best part of the ride—kind of like owning a car for only the first 10,000 miles. You can have your grandchildren for a couple of days and then turn them back over to the parents.”

And maybe, just maybe, it’s the grandchildren who are getting their grandfathers for the best part of the ride, too, awarding hero status to these men whose life experiences impart an unshakeable calm and whose more active lifestyles keep everyone connected and young—those pesky knee injuries notwithstanding.

Related Stories