Essay on elder family member hits home

Any fourth-grade essay that starts out: “My grandfather, Ron Smith, is awesome,” deserves a closer reading. I couldn’t help but delve further into the story after that captivating topic sentence.

I learned what makes grandfathers awesome. They throw balls with their grandchildren, read to them, play with them on the beach, take them fishing and just spend time with them. I also learned that it’s a bit sad to “rarely get to see,” them. I can relate to that. It’s a bit sad for grandfathers (and grandmothers) too.

Even learning that the assignment was to write about an “elder” family member diminished my appreciation for the article not a whit. I got a little misty-eyed. I also felt a bit of grandfatherly pride for my grandson. The piece was well written and quite legible—a feat I never accomplished.

I’m proud of both my grandsons and was especially happy to spend one of those “rare” weekends with them at their home in northeast Tennessee the last week in October. Aaron, the oldest, the fourth grader, and Hunter, 18 months younger and in third grade, are both excellent writers. They possess exceptional vocabularies and each has a knack for language arts. They do well in math and science and social studies, too.

Hunter displayed his writing talent last spring with a blue-ribbon essay on citizenship that displayed both a gift for language and a genuine understanding of what being a good citizen is all about. I was impressed last week with his reading skills. He tackles books several steps above his grade level and displays both enjoyment and understanding of what he reads.

Pat (that’s Nana to the boys; I’m Bubba) and I also spent a cold Saturday afternoon watching little league football games in which Hunter and Aaron played about 6 downs each. We sat in the chill mountain air for about three hours to watch these brief appearances. It’s what grandparents do. We did not regret the effort, although I do wish I’d worn a hat.

After their games, they were eager to relate the key plays and neither seemed too disappointed that their playing time was a bit brief. They looked good in their uniforms.

We had lunch with them at school on Friday. We sat and talked and listened—foregoing school cuisine in lieu of something different later on. We enjoyed watching them interact with their friends and getting glowing reports from their teachers. They didn’t seem to mind having us around. We also were impressed with their school, which they seem to enjoy.

I am an admitted doting grandfather and sometimes suspect that being such is what I was put on this earth for. And on Sunday morning, with one boy snuggled on each side, taking turns—sort of—attracting my attention to the games they were playing or to the comments they needed to make about whatever was on their minds, I was well aware of what a fortunate person I am.

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