By Karen O’Connor
I remember a summer visit in Ohio with my daughter and her husband and five children. At the time Liam, the fourth of the five, was 6 years old. He and I loved to take walks and ride bikes in the neighborhood whenever I was in town. One day, however, I wasn’t up for pedaling. It was too hot and muggy. I preferred to walk. Liam chose to bike.
He took the lead by at least half a block, though I tried hard to keep a close distance behind. Suddenly I realized we were fast approaching a busy intersection. My heart pounded. I was afraid he would ride into the street without looking. “Liam!” I shouted, “Slow down, please, and wait at the corner. No crossing without me, OK?” I took a deep breath as he put on the brakes and hopped off till I caught up.
“I wouldn’t want to lose you,” I said playfully. “You’re my precious grandson.”
“Don’t worry, Magah,” (the family’s pet name for me), he called over his shoulder. “If I die I’ll go straight to Heaven.”
“But I’m not ready for that,” I teased. “You’re only 6.”
I lingered over what he said as we crossed the street. I learned something that day from those words he spoke with such confidence. He knew where he was headed when he died—whether at age 6 or 96. Was I so certain in my life? I asked God to increase my faith.
Isaiah 11:6 says, “A little child shall lead them.” This verse refers to the Christ child, but perhaps it applies in some way to each young person who shares his or her simple faith and assurance that God will make all things right and good if we follow him, regardless of what happens in our lives.
Of course we shouldn’t test our faith by tossing ourselves in front of oncoming cars, but surely we adults can learn from the wisdom of the grandchildren we cherish.
LIKE LITTLE CHILDREN
I also thought about what Jesus taught while on earth. “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). I had some work to do to reach that goal.
I asked a few other grandparents to share some of the priceless wisdom and playful comments they’ve picked up from their grandkids. Here are just a few.*
Pride and Joy
Shelby, age 7, joined her grandparents for the church Christmas program, which consisted of a living tree made up of 150 choir members, including her grandpa. Afterward she told everyone around her, “My grandpa is a Christmas tree, and I’m his little ornament.”
What a sweet remark. I realized that each of us, no matter what our age, is one of God’s little ornaments. We sparkle and shine in his presence, and he takes delight in us.
“For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory” (Psalm 149:4).
“Grandpa, no climbing on ladders,” Maggie said. “Did you know a man your age fell off the roof while hanging Christmas lights? He lost his balance and splat! He broke a leg and an arm. I don’t want that to happen to you. Then we couldn’t play catch anymore.”
Leave it to kids to think of the practical ramifications. If their grandparents take chances then the kids lose out! Of course they don’t usually think about the consequences of their own actions and how they would affect their grandparents.
“Honor God with your bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:20).
Eyes to See
Mimi had extensive eye surgery a few days after Christmas. On New Year’s evening, she and her husband babysat their grandchildren while the young parents enjoyed a night out. Grace’s mother had prepared the little 3-year-old for the “boo-boos” on Mimi’s eyes. She didn’t want Grace to be traumatized seeing grandma’s bruises.
That night while Grace and Mimi were brushing their teeth before bed, Mimi looked in the mirror and nearly scared herself! “Grace, your Mimi really looks ugly.”
Grace stopped brushing, removed her toothbrush from her mouth, and placed her hand over her heart. “Oh, Mimi, you’re not ugly. You’re like the Grinch who stole Christmas. You have a big heart.”
Don’t you love the way kids tell the truth but in such a way that you can’t possibly be hurt by it?
“Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment” (Proverbs 12:19).
Dick and Susan took their children and grandchildren to church for the Christmas program one year. When the first wise man entered the back of the church, Susan pointed him out. “Look at the king.”
Their 6-year-old granddaughter stood up on her seat and shouted, “Where’s the queen?”
She’s got the right idea! Equal rights for men and women! See what I mean? We can learn so much from our grandkids, if we really listen.
“For God does not show favoritism” (Romans 2:11).
KIDS AND GOD
Kids say a lot of cute things, among them comments, questions, and musings about God. How blessed we are as grandparents to watch them grow in the Lord, discover and experience his love and grace, and live by his guidance.
Somewhere in the process, however, they come up with some interesting theological understandings or misunderstandings, as well as a few unique ways of praying.
Caden, age 5, said his prayers, “Bless Mommy, bless Daddy, bless Jesus.” He paused, looked up at his dad, and giggled. “Daddy, I just said ‘Bless God.’”
His grandmother noticed that he had picked up the concept that Jesus is God! She loved it.
Allison was deep in thought, then looked at Taylor and said, “God cannot pray to himself.”
Good one, Allison.
Taylor had the perfect response. “God doesn’t have to pray.”
“Wanna hear a song my dad taught me about Jesus?” asked my grandson Miles.
“Of course,” I said. “I’d love to listen to you sing.”
The 6-year-old ran through a couple of verses, never missing a beat or word. Afterward, I complimented him on how quickly he had memorized the lyrics.
Miles looked at me, a bit puzzled. “But it’s in English,” he said. “If it were in Hebrew I couldn’t have done it so fast.”
Grandma Nancy talked with her 5-year-old grandson Miguel about the importance of listening and obeying in order to live a happy life that is pleasing to God. Miguel paid close attention to his grandmother and even nodded, indicating he got what she was talking about. When she stopped speaking, Miguel sighed heavily and then remarked, “Obeying—that’s the hard part.”
Take That, Satan
At age 4, grandson Steven proclaimed, “Jesus is gonna lock Satan in jail. He can’t get out. Then there’ll be no more tummy aches and we can play all day!”
That sounds divine to me.
Tyler and his grandmother went for a drive to see the effects of a local flood. “Nana,” Tyler said, “I thought God promised there would never be another flood.”
“God promised there would never be another flood to cover the whole earth,” Nana explained.
“It wasn’t here yesterday,” said Tyler. As far as he was concerned the flood had covered the whole world as he knew it.
LOVE AND LAUGHTER
Ah! Dear grandchildren, you have brought so much love and laughter into our lives. May God bless and keep you close always.
Incidentally, my grandson Liam is now 20, driving a car instead of riding a bike, but he continues to inspire me. Learning from our “grands” is one of the Lord’s lovely gifts to us during our golden years. I pray there will be more such experiences for you and for me.
Karen O’Connor is a freelance writer from Watsonville, California (www.karenoconnor.com).
* Some material excerpted from Grandkids Say the Cutest Things by Karen O’Connor. (Harvest House Publishers, 2011. Permission granted.)