I can recall a memorable conversation with a grandfatherly gentleman some years ago. He told me that he read my books and had heard me on the radio, and he pulled me aside to share this: “There are two things that every kid needs—two things.”
I listened very closely. He reached into the pocket of his trousers and pulled out a pocket knife that must have been fifty years old. “Every kid needs a pocket knife,” he said. “Every one of my kids had a pocket knife—I even give them to my grandkids! My son came to me and said, ‘Dad, they’re going to cut themselves,’ and I said, ‘It’ll only happen once.’”
Clearly, this white-haired gentleman knew something about children. And we all have to discern whether pocket knives would be positive things to give our own grandchildren, and whether their parents want them to have one at their age. But I do respect the wisdom of this man’s experience. He had found his own unique way to make memories with his grandkids.
I encourage you to do the same. Bring to life those unique features that make you the grandparent that you are. Find the magic and mystery of a pocket knife or a pocket watch. Your hobby may be the key that unlocks priceless moments. Consider a patient one-on-one woodworking lesson, a spin in your rebuilt Corvette, or playing board games together into the night. Memories that last forever can be made during breakfast dates at McDonald’s, hunting for arrowheads, or baiting a hook at that fishing hole that only the two of you know about.
The second piece of advice from my gray-haired friend was even simpler: “It is vital,” he said, “that we touch our grandkids whenever we see them, look ‘em in the eye, and tell ‘em that we love ‘em.”
It means so much more coming from a well-seasoned veteran: Affirm your grandchildren with touch; look them in the eye; say, “I love you.”
As I thanked him for the good words, he touched me on the arm, looked me in the eye, and he told me that he loved me, and … to keep up the good work. I promise, we will.