The day underscored the impact that a "special elder" or grandparent can have on a child. Something I hadn't thought much about. (Perhaps selfishly, I'd thought about it the other way around-- the joy I got out of a grandchild.)
The kids had all written essays and drawn pictures, reflecting on why their grandparents were important to them. The school's principal summarized for us the themes that had emerged:
Memories are etched in the the children's minds of plaees and activities spent with 'special elders' -- "being in the kitchen with grandma when we bake cookies;" "the stream where I go fishing with grandpa;" "playing cards with Poppop in the dining room." And then there are the trips -- whether to exotic locations or just to the city.
Things like that.
But most important, the principal said, were the stories that grandparents tell -- the family narrative. Coming to America. Surviving hard times. Giving children the sense of where they came from and the challenges that their ancestors faced and surmounted.
"Research shows," he said, that children who have a family narrative do better than children who don't."
A former student at this school was so touched by Grandparents Day, that when she grew up, she gave the school a sizable gift to support the day, with lunch, refreshments, but most importantly, an artist in residence, who works with the children on poetry and dance for a performance.
The theme last Friday was "migration." Butterflies may have been what the children depicted in clever choreography and costumes. But the "special elders" knew that a migration of generations was in progress.
While each of us grandparents had received the gift of an enduring memory of this day, we are creating for our grandchildren memories that will endure long after us.