What people often say when you become a grandparent, after they congratulate you for your child having a child, is that it’s wonderful, especially because you can be as much a part of the grandchild’s life as geography, time, and willingness to be involved allow. And then you can go home, leaving the grandchild in his/her parents’ hands (i.e., more fun, less responsibilities, and certainly more sleep than you had with your own child).

That’s mostly correct.

But, if you talk to other grandparents, you’ll learn that there’s something else wonderful too.

Watching your children (son, daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law) become parents is as rewarding as watching your grandchildren grow, learn, and become human beings. Assuming the best scenarios (you get along with your children, you are welcome in their home, and you feel good about how they’re handling their new roles), I think the pleasure of seeing children you’ve raised become parents is even more satisfying than your being part of the grandchild’s life.

I guess that shouldn’t be so surprising, but no one ever mentioned that part of being a grandparent to me. With the birth of our younger daughter’s first child (Samantha Lauren) 10 days ago, we now have the good fortune to have four grandchildren. We also have the good fortune to be very much a part of their lives. And, most special, we get to watch our children become parents.

Of course, we’ve got to figure out how to observe what happens without interfering or being overly intrusive yet available and helpful when asked. Just as this is new territory for them, so too is it for the grandparents.

Lucky us.