“Hi, my name is Ed. Do you want to see pictures of my grandchildren?”
No one wants to be a cliché—unless you are a grandparent. The moment it happens there must be some kind of neurological circuit, latent in us all, that, once triggered, emits a standard behavioral package: you are compelled to show pictures to whoever makes eye contact with you, you have the gift of baby interpretation that allows you, and no others, to hear your designated grandparent name in every coo, and you have absolute confidence that your grandchildren are, in fact, the brightest and most beautiful, which means you also have insight into the exaggerations of other grandparents when they boast about their grandchildren. If you happen to preach or teach, you will insert a grandchild story, whether it fits the context or not. And you love it.
This neurological circuit has kicked in with me twice so far (which, at least at this moment, is one more than David Powlison, but who wants to be competitive about such things.)
Along with the standard package of eccentricities, I have also identified one more feature of grandparenting, though it might be more Spirit-induced than merely genetic: you have the privilege of praying more. It is less surprising than the other behaviors, and it is arguably the best part. For many parents, praying for their children starts even before conception. For the spiritually less refined, like myself, praying begins with the first touch. Then it never stops. Of course, through eighteen years or so our praying is accompanied by a lot of other activity, but as children get older, we learn that our primary calling from God is to pray for them. It is simple. We love them more than any other human. They are on our hearts. Our job is to pray for them. Grandchildren just get bundled into that growing community of people who you love deeply.
Now, here is the goal. The family of Christ is much bigger than my children and their families. My prayer is that more and more people get crammed into that bundle, and my eccentric, cliché-like behavior extends to colleagues, counselees, friends, fellow church members and neighbors.