- - Sunday, August 25, 2019

I was recently the honored guest at an evening event.

In fact, I was the VIP.

The occasion? My daughter invited me to help put her little 17-month-old boy — my first grandchild — to bed.

I was a grandma in all its glory, and will cherish that night as one of the most wonderful of my entire life.

Although I previously had helped with various aspects of the bedtime routine, on this special night we did the entire routine together. The fun started with giving the little guy a bath, toys and all. We then dried off, put lotion on, diapered and put jammies on the squirming, giggling toddler.

My daughter showed me how she turns on the twinkle lights above his tent-like “big boy” bed that sits right on the floor, where on the mattress she stacks the books, and how she places pillows and stuffed animals along the edge. When she told me that he likes to hold the remote that controls the lights, I was a bit surprised.

But, just as she predicted, a few minutes later baby Russell asked to hold the “mote” and proceeded to push the buttons, causing the lights to sparkle and dim as his eyes lit up with glee.

The three of us crawled into his bed, with him in the middle, and cuddled close. His mommy showed him each book and asked which one he wanted to “read.” He pointed to “Yawn Like a Hippo” and listened intently to every word. He also studied the pictures and helped to open some of the paper flaps that reveal animals hiding under them.

As for me, I intently studied his face and hers, soaking in the melodious sound of my daughter’s voice and the immense love and powerful bond that this amazing mommy and her little boy share.

After a few more stories we sang, “The Wheels on the Bus” and the “Itsy Bitsty Spider.” Baby Russell concentrated on making his tiny, chubby fingers do the climbing spider motion, all the while with a sleepy grin on his face.

His attentive mommy told him it was time to say his prayers, and he bowed his head and listened, as if he knew that Jesus was listening too.

My heart was full as my little grandson drifted off to sleep and my daughter and I quietly crawled out of his bed and closed the door.

There’s nothing like being a grandparent. I’ve heard it all my life, and now I can vouch that it is true.

When I was a child I treasured my own grandparents and loved them to the depths of my soul. I remember thinking how lucky I was to get to be the kid. Little did I know that the best part is actually being the grandmommy.

National Grandparents Day is celebrated on Sept. 8. Normally, I wouldn’t write about a “holiday” this far in advance, but given that very few people actually even know the commemorative day exists, I thought it might be good to provide time for a bit of planning.

If you are a parent and are blessed to have parents or in-laws who are living, make the effort to involve them in your children’s lives. Equally as important, ask your children to help you honor their grandparents this year. For just one day forget about any animosity or friction you might have toward your parents, and take time celebrate them — if not for your sake or theirs, but for the sake of your children.

Family bonds are critical to the overall well-being of all of us, especially children. In fact, a University of Oxford study of 1,500 children revealed that those with “a high level of grandparental involvement had fewer emotional and behavioral problems” than children who had little or no interaction with a grandmother or grandfather.

If you are a grandparent and don’t receive an acknowledgment of National Grandparents Day, don’t let it bother you. In any case, be proactive in marking the day by writing a love note to each of your grandchildren.

Young children enjoy having books read to them, they adore having letters from friends and family read to them too. For older children, a handwritten note declaring your undying love will be a treasure that they will most likely keep for years to come.

After all, you are a VIP.

Rebecca Hagelin can be reached at rebecca@rebeccahagelin.com.

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