Some moments you and your grandson will remember forever.
You’re out in the country with your fourteen-year-old grandson, coming back from someone’s house. You pull the car over to the side of the deserted dirt road and turn off the ignition. “What’s going on?” your grandson asks.
You take the car keys and dangle them in front of his face. “Why don’t we trade places?” you say.
Your grandson gets a look on his face that is elation combined with fear. He gets behind the wheel and you don’t even have to remind him to buckle his seat belt. He starts the car and revs it a few times. He flashes you a smile, slips the car into gear, and both of your hearts race as you spin down the road. You have communicated that you trust him with your car—and actually with your very life!
As a grandfather, you may have opportunities to participate with your grandson in various rites of passage. Maybe you’ll arrange to pick him up early one Saturday to go out to breakfast. Maybe it will be the first time you take him fishing—just you and him. Or the first time you pay him to mow your yard, without any supervision. It could be a variety of new privileges or responsibilities.
These are big moments for all boys, and as grandfathers it’s special when we can be there to share them. I suppose a driver’s ed. instructor could teach him to drive just as well. Someone in the neighborhood could help him check the oil in the car or change his first tire.
But there’s something different, something special about a boy learning these things from his grandfather.
Some years ago on the Johnny Carson show, Carson asked Burt Reynolds, “What makes a man?” Johnny may have expected a wise-guy reply about loving women or career achievements. But Reynolds thought about it a few seconds and said, “You’re not a man until your father says you’re a man.” He could have just as easily added grandfathers in the statement, because we play a similar role.
You are one of your grandson’s measuring sticks for manhood. And there are many ways you can tell him, “I’m proud of the way you’re growing into a young man.”