I was taking "Lori," one of our Village kids to her soccer game on Saturday when she asked me. Grandpa Hank, are you staying to watch me?" Lori is a quiet ten year old and normally doesn't ask a lot of questions but this one, I could sense, was important to her. She wanted me to be more than a pick-up and take-home chauffeuring service. This little ten year old, separated from any parent or other relative wanted someone down on the field cheering her on. She needed to have "family" watching her. Needless to say, I was delighted to be able to fill that role for her.
I have also been a "watcher" for "Shauna" who wants someone to see her doing back-flips in gymnastics class, "Henry" a linebacker for his team in the PAL football league, and several kids doing their aikido moves at a martial arts class.
I kind of like this part of my "job" as a Village grandpa. I believe that participation in sports can play a major role in helping kids to grow and develop. So anything I can do to support them, even if it's just planting my butt in the stands and watching them, is important.
When my own kids were growing up I recall showing up for all my son's Little League games. Like an old time Catholic who wouldn't dream of missing Mass on Sunday, I made sure I was in the bleachers for his games. At the time I wondered if he even noticed but years later, Sean, now a man in his 30's called me on the phone one day. He said "Dad I was just thinking the other day how you always showed up for my baseball games. I want to say thanks." Wow! There are father-son moments that happen in life too deep for words. That was one of those moments.
So I'll continue to show up to watch our kids whether it be at school plays or basketball games or soccer. I know I'm not mom or dad or even their "real" grandpa but at least they have someone there to give them a hug or a pat on the back and say "Hey, you did great."