As a grandmother, Amanda Lauer has learned to savor the opportunity to have fun with her grandchildren.
Interesting observation I made recently: kids are really fun.
Seeing that I’ve been a parent for 38 years, you might think I would’ve noticed that a bit sooner. And I did—when I had a moment to reflect on it. Seeing that our fourth child arrived when our oldest was 6, there wasn’t a whole lot of thinking time back in the day. I was generally—especially when they were young—in the survival mode. I was just trying to get through every day with each child alive, fed, and—as a bonus—entertained to some degree.
To be honest, so much of my time was taken up with the day-to-day care of the children and the house, I didn’t have a whole lot of time to actually get down on the floor and play with the kids. I know some parents are great at just letting everything go to spend that quality time with their children. But I was one of those moms who valued having a relatively clean and organized house. I strove to keep up with the wash and chores and make meals from scratch every day. (The cooking was delegated to my husband—our short-order cook—by the time our youngest was in high school.) Note: A parent’s work is a child’s play, so I did get everyone involved in the chores I performed, so there’s that.
Chances are I played with the kids more than I remember, but the majority of the play sessions in our house were led by our oldest daughter. Then, when we moved into the neighborhood that we’re in now, our youngest two daughters had built-in friends close by, so playing (and some bickering) with the kids on our block took up most of their awake time.
As the kids got older and required less care on my part, I can remember playing board games and such as a family. But, for the most part, the kids entertained themselves or played together and/or with friends inside and outside yearlong. Another note: we lived in one of those old-fashioned neighborhoods where you heard kids playing outdoors almost all the time when school was out.
Interestingly enough, when our children were young adults, it was as though we’d produced and raised our four best friends. We’d get together for boardgame nights (Catan, Ticket to Ride, and Code Names, for example) and have fun shooting buckets or playing The Beatles: Rock Band, darts, foosball, and ping pong in our basement.
Now that our children are out of the house and have their own families, life is much less hectic and exhausting for me than it was back in the day. But, as a grandma to eight, I get to observe children from a different angle. When I’m with the kiddos, there’s no rush. Nothing has to be done. All the chores can be taken care of after the kids go home. When we go for walks, we can take our time so we can really explore our surroundings.
This may be a guess, but I think I’ve spent more time playing soccer with one of our grandsons than I did with our own son when he was growing up. Our son spent a good deal of time on the soccer field, but it was mostly with his friends and teammates. I get the pleasure of playing soccer with his son and I’m loving it (even if I can barely walk the next day). It’s so much fun and he’s so much fun. All the grandkids are, actually.
Over the summer, we were with three of our grandkids at an outdoor live music concert. While the music was playing, John and I had a pickup game of soccer with the kiddos. Eventually other kids, who were at the park with their parents, joined in. We had such a great time. I glanced over at their parents and was thinking, they don’t know what they’re missing by hanging out on the sidelines.
But you know what? I’m sure I missed times like that too when our kids were young. Maybe those parents were glad to take a break from parenting for an hour. Maybe they physically couldn’t join in. Maybe they had pressing matters to attend to on their phones. (Which makes me so glad that there weren’t cell phones when our kids were little. I probably would’ve been as addicted to my phone as much then as I am now.)
If I could offer one bit of advice to young parents today, I’d suggest looking at your children through a different lens: the lens of a grandparent. You may be surprised to see what a delight they are. And maybe you’ll step away from the busyness of life for a bit, and really enjoy spending time with them. It’s been said: the days are long, but the years go fast when you’re raising children. I certainly found that to be true. Enjoy those precious moments with your little ones while they’re here. They’ll disappear before you know it.
Copyright 2023 Amanda Lauer
About the Author
An avid reader since childhood, award-winning author and journalist Amanda Lauer is the author of the Heaven Intended Civil War series and two time-travel novels, Anything But Groovy and Royal & Ancient. Amanda—who’s been married to her husband John for more than four decades—has had the privilege of being a Catholic mom for 30-some years and is a Catholic grandma to seven.