The more time you spend with your grandchildren, the more they can teach you because today’s kids possess an amazing combination of modern knowledge and old-fashioned good sense. Just look at this random sampling of some of the facts, pop culture and wisdom you can pick up from them.
1. The most recent adventures of Captain Underpants.
2. Why you haven’t seen one of today’s animated or action movies until you’ve seen it in 3D.
3. How to cram half a dozen pieces of Bazooka Bubble Gum in your mouth at a time.
4. Rock-scissors-paper is still a great way to settle a dispute.
5. Why Taylor’s rise has been so swift.
6. How to play Crazy Old Fish War.
7. You can be totally loved even with morning bedhead.
8. Sometimes the box it came in is far more interesting than the most carefully selected gift.
9. How to make grape juice come out of your nose.
10. You’re never too old to try something new. (Maybe too stiff, tired or out of shape, but never too old.)
If you think there’s a generation gap between you and your children, there must be a generation Grand Canyon between you and your grandchildren. But that’s part of what gives you such a strong connection to these chips off the chips off the old block. Your life experience and scope of knowledge are so far removed from theirs that you can learn a lot from each other.
Tell your grandkids about be-ins and love-ins, and they can tell you about the flash mob they saw at the plaza. Mob? Oh, dear, you might ask, was anybody injured? No, they’ll assure you, it was only for fun. Everybody wore blue and they were dancing. Then you can watch the whole thing on the cell phone video they shot.
Anytime these in-the-know guys and gals throw unfamiliar lingo your way, such as chillax, frenemy or check my vitals, you can share vintage expressions like hang loose, neato and catch you on the flip side. They all make equal sense. Or no sense at all.
Music is always a great way to communicate, so be sure to share some of your classic rock and folk favorites with the grandkids, including Jimi Hendrix, Joan Baez, The Who and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. In fact, tell them all about your time at Woodstock—even if you only saw the movie. That’s when they’ll know just how cool you really are.
Like the many grandparents who came before, you have an abundance of experience and know-how to pass along to this new generation. These days, however, it’s obviously a two-way street. In a world that keeps advancing at breakneck speed, grandkids are the key to your continuing education.
But don’t expect them to spend all their free hours spoon-feeding you the latest and greatest. You’ll have to soak up some of the never-ending news feed by yourself. So keep those still-agile brain cells fully charged by playing chess, Scrabble and occasional video games; working crosswords and Sudokus; and frequently tuning in to Jeopardy or, at the least, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? Watch it with your grandkids and see who comes out on top!
Diana J. Ewing is the author of The Baby Boomers’ Guide to Grandparenting