Every child needs a grandparent.
The greatest gift a child can receive is at least one caring grandparent, one person who really listens and encourages your belief in the inner you. If you were lucky enough to have a loving grandparent who enjoyed long, chatty strolls; then perhaps you have them to thank for the person you are today. Each walk allowed private time to explore a big scary world, and come up with solutions to problems like the Red Riding Hood wolf in the neighbor’s yard, or the cracks in the sidewalk that might gobble a five-year-old in one gulp. The best part was, Grandma believed. If Grand thought you could conquer that wolf, then it must be possible. And if it’s possible to overcome imaginary wolves with daring-do then self-confidence blooms like a well-tended garden.
A child and a tiger
There is something about walking and talking that allows for a special intimacy… sharing the sun on your face, the breeze in your hair, and the special adventures that occur in the mind of a child when there is no one to interrupt with burdened adult conversation.
I spotted a willow tree in a neighbor’s yard, and it became the scene of my battle with a giant tiger that lived in the mysterious, drooping branches. All five-year-olds win tiger battles. My grandmother would exclaim in Polish at my tiger-wrestling, and my self-confidence grew little Popeye muscles.
If I was upset about something, our walks might lightened my load. They redirected my worries to things I could handle like tigers and pirates and wolves, oh my. These were mini-courses in positive affirmations taught with laughter and total immersion in the preposterous antics of a child’s mind.
Adult self-limiting beliefs originate in childhood
The odds are good that the seeds of any self-doubts you carry today, were sown in childhood. It’s fun and easy to plant seedlings of ‘can do’ in a child. My grandmother instilled in me the understanding that I was responsible for the outcome of my actions. If I chose to look up as I walked, watching Peter Pan fly from tree tops, then if I stumbled and fell, I was responsible for my own scraped knees. On the other hand she taught me to believe in the positive and laugh at the negative. My knees would heal, but how may kids got to see Peter Pan fly? I learned not to miss opportunities just because of what might happen.
Grandparents are a mirror
Grandparents are a mirror held up for grandkids to see themselves. The image that reflects in our eyes is one they can’t get anywhere else. They are our little heroes and nothing can take that away.
Occasionally my grandmother would pause in our walks. She’d reach in her big tapestry pocketbook and tug out a knitting magazine. We would stop under the shade of a tree. She would open the book and show me pictures of me modeling sweaters she might someday knit for me. Because my beloved grandmother told me the child models were me, I believed that when I wasn’t wrestling jungle beasts in the neighborhood, I was a child model for Knit & Crochet. If the photo didn’t look exactly like me, I skipped over that thought. Whom was I to question my biggest fan?
It’s sad that walking and talking have become a dead form of teaching. I learned to deal with life while stepping over those monster-dwelling cracks in the sidewalk. I learned to see the good in people as my grandmother would welcome everyone with a big smile and a comic Polish greeting.
My grandmother was the perfect role model for positivity. She was widowed at the age of twenty-seven, left with six young children during the Great Depression. She didn’t speak English, but she managed to support her kids without a lick of government assistance. She was soft on the outside, but tougher than any tiger on the inside. And the best part was she was known for her wonderful sense of humor. She could deliver a funny line with comedic precision. A fan of the old radio shows, she relied on me to translate the Lone Ranger from English to Polish. By the age of five I could imitate Tonto’s baritone voice, sending us both into gales of laughter as I would pronounce ‘kemosabe’ in Polish.
Every child needs a grandparent if they are going to fight tigers in this rough, new world. It’s our job to make sure they believe in themselves and look at the world through positive eyes.
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A pocket full of positive affirmations for children
I believe me in.
Grand believes in me.
I love myself.
I listen to my heart
I choose to see the good in everyone.
I can do anything I set my mind to.
I am always kind to other people.
I can do it.