Birthday for a grandson

Sherri Gardner HowellFarragut, Kitchen Table Talk

We are getting ready to celebrate a birthday in our family, and I am looking around, wondering where five years have gone.


King Howell will have his fifth birthday this weekend. He will be excited, and a little shy, with all his school and neighborhood friends coming for a fun time at his house. King likes a good party, but it takes him a while to warm up to the excitement. He’s like his father, in that way.

King Howell, just shy of a week old

Grandchildren are remarkable gifts from God and your very own children. Gigis and Granddaddies, Papaws and Nanas, and all those classic and creative names we come up with for our grandchildren to call us – we are all amazed to realize that those children we loved, endured, hugged, screamed at, nursed, pushed, taught and learned from have produced these remarkable little creatures who can do very little wrong in our eyes.

Our children are pretty amazed by it, too. “I certainly never got sugary cereal for breakfast …” or “Bedtime certainly mattered when I was kid …” It’s hard for us to explain the difference. We don’t really want to admit that we lived in mortal fear of making terrible mistakes and “ruining them for life.” We also don’t want to sound stodgy by saying, “Well, I figured out what was really important.”

King Howell, riding the Polar Express with Gigi in December 2019

There’s just a difference in how we view our grandchildren, and it really isn’t because we can “give them back and go home” once we get them all sugared up.

I think the answer is that it really is a totally different relationship. My grandsons know I am not their mother. They are comfortable and happy with me, but they don’t feel the need to push against me or assert their independence or prove their point with Gigi. It’s as different as their relationships with friends compared to parents or siblings compared to parents.

I love the uniqueness of the grandparent/grandchild relationship. If parents are smart, they see the value in having someone who is totally in love with their child, who wants what is best for them but who has a little distance from the day-to-day chaos of family life.

The first five years have been a growing time for King and a growing time for Gigi. Our bond is strong and will probably get even stronger. The relationship is good for me, and, I believe, good for him.

I do not know what they world holds for a little boy who turns 5 in 2020. I do not know what the world holds for a Gigi who turns 66 in 2020. What I do know is that he makes my heart beat faster, my eyes light up and my spirits soar.

It happened on Day 1, and I don’t see that changing. Enjoy your grandchildren. Tell them in a million ways that they are a priority for you and make that true.

The years will go fast, but they will be full ones.

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