My time with my 11-year-old granddaughter is nearing an end. She will fly back home to Oregon tomorrow. This two weeks with her has been such a joy.
It has been a reminder to me of the importance of various roles in our lives. The role of grandparent is one I take seriously. It's far different from being a parent—for in that role, we're responsible for the care and feeding of our children. A grandparent generally doesn't have that day-to-day responsibility but can enjoy the younger generation in a way we were too busy to do when we raised our children. Grandparents are role models and mentors, historians (telling the family stories and offering a window into their parent's childhood) and more; and we can spend more time having fun than one is able to do when one is busy parenting. We can love unconditionally, giving while expecting nothing specific in return. We worry less about discipline and, yes, we have the privilege of spoiling grandchildren. We can be the champions of our grandchildren.
If we have reached retirement, we have more time to play and do the activities we may not have had time for when we raised our grandchildren's parents! We may even have gotten our priorities straight after having lived several years! For example, I wish I had spent less time housecleaning when my sons were growing up. I like a clean house, but it didn't really have to be as clean as I felt it needed to be!
If you don't have grandchildren but have young nieces and nephews or have children of dear friends who could use some extra attention and love, I encourage you to get involved. There's so much to be gained by you and the child.