as featured in Desert Exposure Magazine
You don’t love your grandchildren more than you love your own kids, but it’s a different kind of love. Maybe the difference is as simple as, by the time your grandkids come around, your own children are grown and you’ve forgotten what it was like when they were babies.
My grandson is up for anything, so I like to take him hiking and camping with me. In my opinion, winter is the best time to camp because that’s when the creeps and the crooks stay home. When he was about two, we were hiking in the Joshua Tree National Park. Since there was no one else around, I was letting him throw rocks, which I don’t normally let him do.
“Throw one HARD,” I told him, and he did.
He let one fly and the rock hit a tree, bounced back, and smacked my poor grandson in the forehead. He cried, but only for awhile. After that, we laughed about it.
“We’re the only people in a hundred miles, and you have to hit the one tree who got mad and threw it back,” I kidded him.
He’s older now, but until he came into my life I had forgotten how seriously kids take things. Just the other day he was telling me about a friend of his who told him that when it rains and the sun is out, the devil is beating his wife.
“It’s in the Bible,” his friend swore.
“When someone tells me something’s in the Bible,” I told my grandson, “it’s usually not in the Bible.”
“So the devil’s NOT beating his wife?”
“I don’t even think the devil is married,” I told him.
“Well, maybe he is,” I said. “That would explain why he’s so mean.”
I think the time we spend together is good for my grandson. It gives him a chance to appreciate nature and consider profound considerations.
"What did God do before he made people?” he once asked me. “Wasn’t he bored?”
“What do YOU think?” is my go-to response when he asks me something I can’t answer.
“I’d be bored,” he said, thinking about it. And then he thought about it some more. “What did he do all that time alone?”
I didn’t know.
“Why didn't he just make the earth already?”
Then he got to what was really on his mind.
“Why are we here?” he wanted to know. “What’s our purpose in life?"
Hmm… those were some pretty adult thoughts for such a little kid. It would seem my grandson is no longer the innocent two-year-old throwing rocks at trees. Summoning up all the wisdom I had, I told him to go ask his grandmother.
“She reads a lot of books,” I said.
So he asked her.
"Grandma, what’s our purpose in life?"
My wife was stumped.
“Maybe there is no purpose,” she finally told him.
Her answer was honest and sincere, and she was as right as anyone can be. There was more truth in those five words than in anything else I've heard or read. We are born, only to grow old. We live, only to die. We love, only to have our loved ones taken from us. Maybe, indeed.
However, I have to admit that my grandson’s thoughts aren’t always so serious. This past Super Bowl, when he learned there’s a time difference between our state and Florida, he asked me, “If Miami is ahead of us, they should know what happens before we do, right? You should call somebody and find out who wins the Super Bowl, then we could bet money on the winning team.”
Made sense to me.
Could Einstein disprove my grandson’s theory?
Mainly because he’s dead.
Where my grandson gets these profound considerations, who knows? One cool night I was outside enjoying a cup of coffee when my father joined me. He looked at the sky. It was a clear night, so the stars were sparkling. One in particular caught his eye. It was very bright compared to the others.
"Look at THAT,” he said, pointing. “That is one bright star.”
“That’s the North Star,” I told him. “Sailors once used it to navigate the ocean."
“The North Star, you say? Why haven’t I seen it before? And they navigated the ocean with it? Hmm...”
“That’s right, pop,” I said, with all the authority I could muster.
“Well, it IS the brightest," he said.
Later I found out it was Venus.
Don’t ever let me sail the Seven Seas, I guess.
Good thing I don’t have to depend on astronomy to go camping. Just on which side of a tree moss grows on.
My grandson and I were again on one of our camping trips. We were there to hunt wild grizzlies or capture Bigfoot, whichever came first. At least that’s what I told him. There was a full moon on the horizon. A Worm Moon, I'm told. That made it look huge, I don’t know why. The Cree call it an Eagle Moon, but that's neither here nor there. We were enjoying the sight when he told me, “Grandpa, I see PEOPLE on the moon!"
"Oh, yeah?” I responded.
“Yeah,” he said. “MOON people.”
“What are moon people called?"
He didn’t even have to think about it.
“They’re called Moonheads," he said.
“Is that right?” I said. “Can you see what they’re doing?"
He squinted his eyes to get a better look.
"They’re all running to Walmart,” he told me, “to go shopping."
I coughed to keep from laughing, because, like I said, you take things seriously when you’re a kid.
“Hey,” I said, sitting up, “you’re right! I can see them, too! Those Moonheads ARE running to Walmart."
“I TOLD you, grandpa,” he said, giggling.
Grandkids are the best.
...and they’re God’s reward for having children against your better judgement.