Grandparents are arguably the best people on the planet. They provide the love and care of parents without the discipline. Grandmothers are known for feeding the grandkids with their favorite foods, and grandfathers have a reputation for slipping their grandchildren a few dollars when the parents aren’t looking. I’m so lucky to have lived across the street from my grandparents during my childhood. They took me to school, to dance practice and to appointments with doctors when my parents were working. For twenty years, I’ve listened to their stories and watched how they act in different situations. Through all of this exposure, I have learned many lessons from my grandparents. Whether it’s something they explicitly said or something I learned by example, they have been some of the greatest teachers in my life. Here’s what they have taught me. Maybe you have learned some of these lessons from your grandparents as well.
1. You don’t have to use technology to have a good time
I would say my grandparents are pretty tech-savvy for their age. My grandma has an iPhone and my grandfather has an Android. Despite some obstacles, I would say that they have both mastered (the basic) uses of their devices. Even so, they don’t need their phones. I, on the other hand, would feel completely uneasy without my phone in my pocket. Just the other day, my grandma was looking for her tacs to play with. It sounded bizarre to me, but she doesn’t equate technology with play. My grandfather and his best friend go on hikes when they want to spend time together. My grandparents use their devices for utilitarian needs, while I use my phone for utilitarian needs and to pass the time. It’s refreshing to get offline once in a while. Even though few people my age play tacs, we could solve a puzzle, play a board game or bake instead of staring at a screen. While I may not always practice this, my grandparents have shown me that you can have fun without phones. What a concept!
2. Find a balance between saving and spending money
As young adults, us college students are learning to be financially responsible. Unfortunately, fiscal responsibility is one of those things where you fall many times before you succeed. I have many financial blunders in my time, most notably my overcharged checking account. I’ve always admired how my grandparents deal with money. Neither of my grandparents are working, but they made sure to put money into their retirement fund while they were working. They don’t eat out often but are able to afford a new car every five or so years. My grandparents save money on the less important parts of life and put away that money to buy themselves nice things every once in a while. Every time I’m tempted to grab food from Chipotle on the way home from class, I stop myself. If I eat the food that’s in my fridge already, I can put the $8 I would’ve spent on the burrito towards my spring break fund. Dealing with money is hard, but my grandparents have always made it look easy.
3. Satisfaction doesn’t come from a college degree or a fancy job title
If you were to ask either of my grandparents if they have joy in their lives, they would say yes. My grandfather was in the Navy and worked in warehouses and in hospitals in their maintenance departments. My grandmother was a dental assistant, a manager at a convenience store and a babysitter. Both did not attend college. I have this ugly way of discounting people who don’t have a bachelor’s degree. In my eyes, they can’t be happy with their lot in life because they aren’t making six figures or haven’t been “enlightened” by higher education. Over time, my grandparents have proven this assumption wrong. They have a strong relationship, good friends, and a wonderful family. They have shown me that the contents of a resume do not correlate with personal satisfaction. Happiness comes from more than just accolades.
4. Work hard, and when that doesn’t fix it, work harder
Do you ever call your family with the expectation that they will fix all your problems for you? I do this at least once a week. I start with the old “Grandma, I have a test this week and I know I’m going to fail” or “Grandma, I have a huge assignment due tomorrow and I haven’t started.” I know I sound like I’m whining, but that’s because I am. However, my grandma never gives in. She always tells me to study more or to get to work to fix my problems. Both my grandparents never try to go around their problems, but they attack them head-on. Their hard work and persistence in their younger years led them to the great life they have now. They have shown me that the best way to get what I want, whether it’s that A on a test or an internship, is to put my nose to the grindstone and work. I believe that if I live like that, I’ll get the things I want and feel great knowing I worked hard for them.
5. Family comes first
My grandparents are the glue that keeps my family together. We all live in the same neighborhood, but our common meeting place is my grandparent’s house. They come to every graduation, football game and recital. Keeping up with us is no easy task, but my grandparents always put family first. We don’t get to pick our family, so inevitably disputes will start. As the heads of the family, my grandparents somehow manage to keep us all in line. I hope one day I can fill that role for my own family. Hopefully, I can live as great as my grandparents have.
Knowledge doesn’t always come from a classroom. My grandparents have been my role models all my life and have impacted me in more ways than I can count. Grandparents have so much wisdom to share with us, so let’s listen.