|Elbow Beach, Bermuda|
There were many special memories, of course - seeing the five kids tumbling in a hammock or choreographing a water ballet for us (the girls) or holding hands to walk the paths between our rooms, or defending each other when obnoxious kids tried to chase them from their tunnel in the sand, or taking photos of each other with old wind-up cameras that would make them wait for development at the drug store.
But perhaps the most special take-away for Charley and me was the GRATITUDE the grandchildren exhibited during the trip - for each other, for what they were enjoying, for the staff who waited on them, for their families, and for us old folks.
They hugged each other throughout the day and exchanged rooms for sleepovers. They told Charley and me how much they loved pristine, pastel Bermuda, where autos with steering wheels on the "wrong" side of the car drove on the "wrong" side of the road. They distributed kisses to their parents, with minimal interference from cellphones or computers.
"I don't want to leave," one granddaughter told Charley and me. "Thank you for bringing us here!"
"Can I live here?" asked a twin.
"What would your parents and your sister and brother do without you?" I said.
"I could live here with you," said the granddaughter who didn't want to leave. "You could do the cooking, since you want to be a chef anyway!"
Gratitude: they told waitresses who took their orders "thank you" and requested meals with "please." One of the twins announced he wanted to be a chef and asked to pay a visit to the chef at each restaurant in our hotel. By the end of our stay, he was wearing a chef's hat. After hearing a "Please" and "Thank you" for a cranberry juice on the plane home, one stewardess said of a granddaughter, "She's adorable." I guess she didn't always hear that.
How does a sense of gratitude develop?
An article in The Providence Journal ("Restoring a Sense of Gratitude" by Rita Watson, 5-31-15, pg. H4) suggests that acts of kindness - giving and caring for others without expectations for a return on the investment - help develop a sense of gratitude.
So how do kids learn empathy and kindness? By example. And repeated lessons in behavior provided by their parents.
Lessons like helping a classmate who's just moved here from a foreign country learn English so she could do her homework; like having inner-city kids for play dates at their homes; like always writing thank-you notes to grandparents and making special cards for their birthdays; like having a birthday party in a warehouse so the party goers could sort and fold clothing donations for the needy; like working a lemonade stand whose proceeds would go toward research for premature infants; like donating piggy bank savings to help rescued dolphins at a marine facility.
Kudos to our daughters-in-law and sons! It was a real pleasure.