Archive for Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Grandchildren give glimpse into future of mankind

April 30, 2008

I recently returned from a trip to see my two grandchildren who live in Portland, Ore. I don't get to see them more often than a couple of times a year because of their parents' busy schedules and the huge distance between here and Portland. I love them just as much as the two here in Bonner Springs, but they don't feel as comfortable with me because I see them so seldom. They are beautiful and smart though, and it's always a pleasure to spend time with them.

One of the great consolations of getting older is that one can appreciate young children without the concerns their parents have to their care and education. As an older adult, I love to observe youngsters, both my own grandchildren and children and grandchildren of others. Those under 5 or so seem to be completely spontaneous. They haven't yet learned all the artifices and hypocrisies most people seem to layer on as they mature. Their emotions and thoughts seem to pass over their faces without being changed to what they believe others expect from them. They are honest in ways beyond the comprehension of their adult counterparts. They can look at you and tell you that you're funny without embarrassment or give you a hug that is genuinely heartfelt.

Of course one's own grandchildren are usually of the greatest interest to oneself. This is because one can experience them on a continuing basis and compare them to how we grew up. They are glimpses into the future of mankind. We automatically compare their young lives to what ours were many years ago, and we can gauge some of our contribution to the future. Recently, as I spent an afternoon at home with the company of my daughter and her two children, I had an eerie epiphany. If I had never been born, met my husband and married him, these people whose company and chatter I so enjoyed would not be here. If I never accomplish anything else in this lifetime, these children will have justified my existence.

By being with our children and grandchildren, we realize how much the world is changed from that in which we spent our childhood. My childhood was spent without modern communication devices such as the computer, televisions and even the phone. A book was the closest thing to escape I had except for the times we went to movies as a family. This generation is much more sophisticated as it comes of age. However, this generation has lost some of the sense of wonder my generation possessed as we encountered the world. In the same way, I was more sophisticated than my grandparents who were born before airplanes, television, telephones and cars became the world standard.

I have four grandchildren who range in age from 20 months old to 3 1/2 years old to 7 years old to almost 12 years old. Each has his or her unique personality, tempered by age and experiences. Each has something special to offer the world. They are not unusual, but representative of the next generation. Not only do I enjoy them, but knowing them makes me more aware of other children who are their contemporaries. I'm aware of news stories with horrific accounts of abused and truant children, but I can confidently say that most of the youngsters I know are more or less happy and well-intentioned. I can safely say that the future of our world will be held in good hands by this current generation of children.

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