"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." - Dorothea Lange

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

musings on a tuesday morning

What exactly are our responsibilities as grandparents to young Henry and his future siblings and cousins?

Our first job was to figure out what we wanted to be called by the little whippersnappers. Eddie didn’t skip a beat when he announced he’d be “Zayde” (Yiddish for grandfather) and it made sense that I continue being called G-Lo, a twist of my nickname Glo (and a nod to J-Lo says my son-in-law Sam, who has a sly sense of humor and who had already bestowed the name upon me a couple years ago.)

Now our job is mainly to have all sorts of fun and laughter. We teach new words and animal sounds, wonder out loud which color streetcar will come down the track next or where “Spot” is hiding in his cute little board book. We entertain with abandon (and without talent) by singing and dancing; we sneak in tiny bites of ginger cookie next to the peas and prunes at lunchtime and we buy too many toys.

We don’t have to change diapers or get up in the middle of the night for any reason. Unless we really want to.

Our job as grandparents is a good one. Easy and immensely enjoyable.

But this morning I've been thinking about the enormous responsibility we have when it comes to teaching or sharing things that really matter…. lessons and information we wise and life-worn grandparents truly owe our precious new little family members.

Like stuff about all the curious and baffling matters of the heart.

And how easily a heart can break.

The importance of knowing about the family members who came before, who paved the way, who carried us to this point… whose shoulders are the ones on which we now stand.

That it’s necessary to help a stranger in need, and it’s really important that you do so without expecting anything in return.

Like how being fully present for a friend, sister, brother, mother or father in times of pain, loss, sadness, confusion and especially in their joy is what will make you a good, fulfilled and well-loved human being.

That being honest with yourself is the key to being honest with others. Honesty is a very good thing. There will be countless lessons on this topic as you grow up.

It’d be cool if you could give others the benefit of the doubt. Everyone’s just trying to do his or her best.

Be quiet sometimes so that you can listen


to your own voice and to the voices of those around you.

Know that your parents and grandparents can and will screw up from time to time. This does not mean that they/we do not love you. It’s just that we are probably trying to love you so much that we inadvertently make a mess of things.

I think it makes a lot of sense to give yourself a break. Often.

It makes sense to make plans. But be aware that situations can and do change, and often they're just out of our control.

I have found that if you're having a bad hair day, it's best to just put on a hat and keep moving forward.

And I do think it'd probably be a good thing if you could forgive me for putting up any pictures of you or information about you on my blog that may later embarrass you.

I've only been a grandmother for 14 months now. I know there's a lot for me to learn. Figuring out my responsibilities is only part of the journey, but one I happen to be devoting some thought to on this particular foggy, Portland morning.


Anonymous said...

gloria, i have loved you for many many many years - most of my life and for a great influential portion of my forming. but i don't think i've ever loved what you'd had to say as much as this post. it is so patently true. so simple and so simply powerful. i will share it widely, with your permission. hearts and passion...

Gloria Baker Feinstein said...

you have my permission. and thank you for the beautiful comment. wow.

Anonymous said...

Very wise words, G-Lo.
- C.

smm said...

Beautiful Gloria! Henry is a very lucky little boy.