Q. I'd like npecom to give us some parenting (or grand-parenting) advice, please.

Spend TIME with them.

I know, I know, everybody says that. And it is the best advice I can give. The challenge is that life gets in the way.

The best way I can offer advice is by sharing "what I got wrong" and that means sharing a story. So be it.

First, a brief background summary: My twins were born when I was 19, my son, when I was 24. By the time my youngest daughter came along, I had reached the venerable age of 29. That youngest daughter was a senior in high school when her mother passed away unexpectedly. Both of the twins had children by this time so I was already a grandfather. I re-married quickly (July 2001) and my second wife, at that time, had a daughter in high school and a twelve year old son.

Roll the calendar forward to 2020 and I now have 6 grown children, 15 grandchildren (counting "steps") and 5 great-grandchildren. Oh, and "at least" one more grandchild on the way. Get-togethers are a three ring circus.

When the twins were still in grade school (about 7 years old), and we still lived in the "wilderness", I would walk about a half mile to the bus stop to walk them back the same distance. There was a tree, along that way, that had been bent into a saddle shape when it was young and flexible. It grew that way and was strong enough for the girls to play on. They called it their "Horsey Tree". I let them play on it once or twice on the way home. That tree is my symbol and I won't even try to be subtle about it. Over and over they would look forward all day to playing on this silly little tree. Most of the time I didn't let them. I was tired, we had things to do, blah, blah, blah. Most of the time it was just impatience on my part. Five or ten minutes out of my day would have meant so much to those little girls and I didn't want to wait because it just wasn't "important enough".

I don't know what your "Horsey Tree" is. But you know. Little things are important. Take the time to notice what is important to them. Then let them do it. Better yet, do it with them! If I had just taken the few minutes after each school day to play with them on that "stupid" tree, it could have meant the world to them. It would, most likely, have been something they would remember for the rest of their lives. And it would have cost me only a few minutes of my time.

So that is my story and I hope it helps.

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