Have you ever noticed the dynamic that goes on between a child and a grandparent or elder? It's like they have a special bond, a special knowing, a sense of what is really important in the world. I can't explain it but it seems like if a parent or other adult comes in to the room where an elder and child are engaged in anything together the adult becomes irrelevant, unnecessary and, in fact, a nuisance.
Recently I read something that may shed some light on this phenomena that I'd like to share with you.
From Joan Chittister (The Gift of Years):
"Getting in touch with the young again is what keeps us in touch with the world. Children give us a lifeline to the present and the future that is denied to us if we sit alone in an independent-living unit. They don't play checkers much anymore but they can teach us all about video games. They might not know lullabies, but they know the words to every song on the radio. They tell us what the new language means. They keep us in touch with the warm and breathing world. They keep us warm and breathing, too.
They remind us that we are still part of the whole human race. We are not meant to be cordoned off from the rest of society. We are meant to be its wisdom center, its sign of a better life to come, its storehouse of a kind of lore no books talk about.
Once a society divides the human family as a matter of course, there is no family at all anymore. Instead, we have day care for children, senior citizen complexes for the elders, and condos where "families with children need not apply."
The older generation has been denied the right to teach. We are strangers to one another. This natural and necessary linkage between the old and the young cannot be reduced to a scheduled "activity for older citizens." This is the heartbeat of teh culture we are talking about here. It keep newness running in and out of our veins. It keeps ideas beyond murder, mayhem, drugs and sex running in and out of theirs.
Relating to a child who is not theirs enables elders to reach out beyond themselves and the confines of their own private lives to become fully human again. And having elders who are not their parents take an interest in them, talk to them, show them things their parents do not have time to do enables the child to be anchored by an adult who is not a disciplinarian."
Maybe that just explains the close connection between elders and children...each is a lifeline for the other!!