There are few traditions at TCS as poignant as Grandparent and Special Friend Day. The children are beaming with pride as they lead their cherished guests around the classrooms, excitedly sharing their favorite materials, artworks and writing with their loved ones. We are always moved to see the profound and irreplaceable bond they have with their elders.
One gift that grandparents and special friends have to offer children, among many, is their stories and reminiscences. Books may offer a window into other lives, but only the people close to us can tell the stories that help us understand who we are and where we come from. Family storytelling not only deepens the bonds between children and the beloved adults in their life, but also, as a thoughtful article in The Atlantic points out, helps children grow up with a robust sense of identity and better coping skills. Having a sense of a family narrative, fed by the memories of different generations, is a tremendous source of strength for children. Madeleine L’Engle offers this wise advice: “Honor your own stories and tell them too. The tales may not seem very important, but they are what binds families and makes each of us who we are.”
In her blog, Kelle Hampton writes about the vital role that grandparents play in creating a sense of family continuity, and how shared memories can become guideposts in one’s life:
Of all the things I’m grateful that my kids get to experience, I don’t think anything compares to the moments they share with their grandparents. There isn’t a family dinner that goes by … that I don’t make mental note how lucky we are to have meaningful relationships with grandparents and so many memories stashed away. I have one living grandparent and she means more to me every day–and the memories of the ones who have passed have become comforting reassurances that often lead me home when I’ve wandered away from what’s important and what I want in life.
Hampton also asked her father, Rik Cryderman, to share his reflections on being a grandfather, “On Being Poppa”:
The privilege to imprint my babies’ babies with some stories that will echo when I’m gone, some lessons that will teach when I’ve left, some love that will warm when I can no longer hold them close—that is a blessing sacred and strong. To know them, really know them, and to let them know you—therein is the precious and powerful passing of the baton, firmly in the hands of the tomorrow you cannot enter, except through the hearts of your grandchildren.
Here at The Children’s School, we are mindful that it takes many loving adults, across generations, to create a sense of belonging and well-being for a child. We hope that Grandparent and Special Friend Day becomes a part of your family’s storehouse of happy memories.