Grandparenthood Reflection

Life Lessons Taught to Me by a Three-Year-Old

I have recently had the privilege of hanging out with my three-year-old grandson while his daycare was closed for a few days. Having this private time with him was packed full of life lessons. Below are a few of my takeaways.

Life Lessons for Grandparents

1. It’s time to ditch the stereotype of ‘little old grannies’ (and ‘grumpy old grandpas’).

Tea in the rocking chair, anyone? None for me, thanks! I’ve got an active preschooler to catch up with. According to the Legacy Project, the average age of becoming a grandparent (US) is 50 for women and 52 for men. On top of this, grandchildren can reconnect you with adventure…and help you to burn a few extra calories in the process. At the end of each day, all muscles in my body felt like they had been through a top-notch workout. Later in the week, when Richard joined us, Grandpa couldn’t have been more content. (Another stereotype smashed!)

2. Life is now.

It’s time to let go of worrying about tomorrow or beating ourselves up over what happened yesterday. Children are masters of fully experiencing the here and now. It’s wise to take a page from their book and make every moment count.

3. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

Like most three-year-olds, if Charlie wanted something, he asked for it directly. No hinting, no beating around the bush, no expectations of his Grandmother having ESP. I loved this simple, uncomplicated approach. I began to ponder what our world would be like if we all communicated this way.

Life Lessons for Free

4. There are tons of ways to have fun, and stay fit, without spending a cent! (Seriously, who knew?)

Parks, libraries, beaches, community centres (where we made that gorgeous popsicle stick lizard), long walks in historic neighbourhoods…the list is endless and the programs are varied. The above collage highlights just a few examples.

5. Touch heals.

Never underestimate the power of a hug or a trusting hand in yours. The sensation is incomparable…and does wonders for the mind, body, and soul.  More and more researchers are confirming that the human touch can lower stress levels, boost our immune systems, and slow the progress of disease.

6. When you answer a child’s ‘why’ questions…be prepared for your words to be used against you.

I often wear a coiled ponytail holder on my wrist. When Charlie asked ‘why’ I told him that it was for ‘hair emergencies.’ A few days later, at a family-friend gathering, Charlie declared, “Grandma, you are having a hair-disaster!’ Point taken.

7. You aren’t always right (and neither is your GPS).

For our many adventures around town, I relied upon (or tried to rely upon) my iPhone’s GPS. On more than one occasion, Charlie cautioned that I was going the wrong way. I wish that I had believed him more quickly, it would have saved us many retraced steps!

Life Lessons - Life is too short to stay mad


8. Life is too short to stay mad.

My own grandmother was fond of saying, “Those who get mad must get glad again.” As I was growing up, I sometimes questioned this. Must they? Why? Do they? How?
Charlie reminded me that life is simply too short, and too full, to remain upset. Letting go of the anger helps to ensure that you don’t miss out. Wise lessons from both grandchild and great-great-grandparent!

9. Preserve Your Family History.

I recently re-blogged a post by Mike Nelson cautioning us that digital data will not last forever. His post was a stark reminder of something that I had been avoiding. Where and how will I preserve my blog (as well as other online photos and documents)? Many commenters questioned whether future generations would appreciate such preservation. Charlie’s vote appeared to be in favour of such safekeeping. On a poor weather afternoon, we begin to scroll through family photos on my computer. Not only was he keenly interested in pictures of himself, he also delighted in recognizing his parents and grandparents in their MUCH younger versions.

10. If your mirror has a monster in it, do not shout.

This kind of situation does not call for freaking out.
And do nothing that you would not like to see him do.
‘Cause that monster in the mirror, he just might be you.
(Monster in the Mirror)
These are part of the lyrics to Charlie’s favourite song. It’s been a quite a while since I’ve been to Sesame Street. I had forgotten (or previously missed) the valuable life lessons that can be found there as well. It’s interesting the insights we gain when viewing the familiar from an entirely different perspective!

Life Lessons from Jordyn

In a couple of weeks, I will be spending time with my granddaughter, Jordyn, who is almost two-years-old. I expect more life lessons to be coming my way. Please stay tuned!

By Retirement Reflections

Prior to retirement, I lived and worked in Beijing China for fourteen years (Middle School Principal/Deputy Director at The Western Academy of Beijing). Leaving international life behind, my husband and I retired to Vancouver Island in June 2015. To document both this transition and our new adventures, ‘Retirement Reflections’ was born. I hope that you enjoy reading these reflections, and will be willing to share your own.

107 replies on “Life Lessons Taught to Me by a Three-Year-Old”

What a great post! Thanks so much for sharing. You have a gift of extracting the ‘important points’ from what I’m sure was an exhausting three days. I don’t have grandchildren yet – but these lessons reminded me of when I encountered some of them with my own children. All great reminders!


Hi Donna! I loved your photos! You all look very happy to be together. And while I don’t have grandchildren (and won’t for obvious reasons) I can still appreciate every single one of your lessons. I particularly liked the one about speaking and asking for want we want/need directly. Such a good reminder. The world would be far less complicated if that were true for us all. ~Kathy


Really enjoyed this Donna. I do sympathize with the work out story. I remember collapsing on the couch when my grandchildren went home after being with us for a time. It was time for a rest or even a nap! I also love hearing what kids have to say. Your grandson’s comment about your hair was hilarious. My favourite comment from my youngest grandson is “Grandpa, you have too many rules!” I think he is right.


Totally Agree. I am the flying Gran. When I don’t see them for a month or so, I get withdrawal. And these are the Great Grandbabies. lo.


Hi, Liz – It’s so awesome to hear from you! “Flying Gran’ sounds fun! I too go into withdrawal when there are big gaps in me not seeing my children or grandchildren. Being able to spend time with your Great-Grandchildren as well also sounds fantastic! Thank you for stopping by.


Great post, Donna! I don’t have grandchildren yet but I can see that you are having a great time with yours. All your points are so true. As far as preserving memories, that’s why I scrapbook! Thanks for sharing your insights.


Thanks, Janet! Charlie and I had a wonderful time together. I was immensely grateful for this private, quality time. It sounds like you have a great plan for preserving memories. I have no talents with crafts, but hopefully can manage a simple printed off book form of posts which I wish to safe.


What a cutie pie Charlie is! Nothing like grandbabies! They are so much fun, very smart, and full of energy. Oh, and they grow up way too fast ♥


Hi Donna,
I love the song Monster in the Mirror. While we often bemoan the changes that are harmful to kids, like smartphone use by toddlers, it’s easy to forget that they’re also getting the meaningful songs, great discovery toys, and more sustained loving attention from parents, grandparents and other relatives than many of us did when we were young. As is clear in the photos of Charlie and your life lessons, all of this seems to be resulting in some happy, well-adjusted kids. Lucky Charlie and lucky you!


Thanks, Karen – You are right about changes (especially in technology) having many benefits for kids (and parents). Although it (or its user) had imperfections, the GPS on my Smartphone allowed me to take more adventures than I would have without it. Also, in busy traffic, my son could simply say “Play Monster in the Mirror,” and voila, the song began! You are also right about me being lucky to have such well-adjusted and well-cared for grandchildren. I am grateful for this every single day!


First of all, Donna, your grandson is adorable! Kind of “things I learned in Kindergarten,” your post is just rich in the observations of toddler-hood. Darn that socialization into teen then adulthood, seems to take the fun out of life (a little)! My hubby’s new grand-daughter is just shy of 4 months old and we’ll see her in San Diego in a couple of weeks. Still some time to go before she hits the magic threes! Wise observations, indeed, Donna, and I hope I get lucky enough to be a grandma within the next couple of years! Read this on #MLSTL and also shared on Mix!


Hi, Terri – Thank you for your kind words. Thank you also for sharing on Mix. (I haven’t checked that out yet, but have it on my list!) My time with Charlie was definitely a “Things I learned in Kindergarten” week. Charlie turned three while I was there and had his birthday party on Saturday. One of his friends, who is the same age, carefully picked out one of his own favourite toys to give to Charlie for a present. It was a very touching reminder of the power of generosity!


I loved this – and loved your photos. It reminds me of my Mum when the grandkids were younger. She’d get them all and march them onto a train and off for a hike or fishing. Always with their packed lunch, hand reel fishing lines and bread as bait. She’d still do the same, but sadly they’ve all grown out of it. As for the hair disaster – love it!


Hi, Jo – Your Mum sounds awesome! I’m not much of a fisher, but I look forward to taking my grandchildren hiking. There is also “Grandmother University” near where I live. Grandmother and grandchild can choose from a variety of weekend-long course options (e.g. cooking, climbing…even blogging!), stay in dorms, etc. The grandchildren must be at least seven years old to participate I totally can’t wait!!


Children are such great teachers, if we pay attention to the lessons. I especially love the reminders to live in the present moment and to communicate plainly and directly. Thanks for sharing–and with such delightful photos. #MLSTL


Thanks, Nancy – It’s so nice of you to read this and to comment. I loved my time with Charlie. I also look forward to Jordyn coming over in two weeks time. I promise to keep you posted on that. Grandchildren are just amazing, aren’t they?!


How lovely to spend such quality time with Charlie – grandkids are just the absolute best gifts aren’t they? Adn yes, their simple acceptance of life and their unconditional love for us reminds me how blessed we are to have new family members to love and be loved by. #MLSTL 🙂
PS interesting new format for your blog Donna – and look at all the comments you have!


Hi, Leanne – I wholeheartedly agree that we are blessed to have family members, both young and old, to unconditionally love and cherish.
Thank you for your comment on my updated blog format. I had been using the WP default theme (2017) but felt that it was getting a bit stale for me. After some searching, I found this theme – called “The Minimal.” Its name says exactly what I was hoping for. It’s also free and is regularly maintained by a company with a solid reputation. (My WP Guru gave it a two-thumbs up). It does allow for a homepage slider, so if I get bored again, there’s an additional feature that I can pursue.
Joining #MLSTL has definitely increased my comments. Thank you and Sue for all of your hard work on this Link Up. It is greatly appreciated!


So so good to remember. I have many wonderful and ‘in the moment’ memories from caring for 7 of our 8 grandkids over the past 21 years. We have not had as much to do with the youngest (who is by co-incidence, 3) but when we do have her visit with the family every few months she reminds me of the wonder of living via a 3 year old. Denyse #mlstl


Hi, Denyse – It’s wonderful that you have been able to be an active part in the lives of so many of your grandchildren. I agree that living life through the eyes of a three-year-old is very refreshing indeed! Thank you so much for stopping by. I always love hearing from you!


HI Donna, I have been working five days a week, flat out at work, caught up with family things and for the last four months training for another trek to Nepal. I need to write a post about it – we leave at the end of September.

The second blog idea is on hold. The trouble is i work all day mostly on a computer and then if I am blogging I am on it at night. No good for my body and my eyes. I haven’t even had time to read people’s posts. So, yes just on hold for a while, I will however try to find some time to write up the next trek. It still gets Internet Search Traffic and just bubbles along regardless of the fact that I haven’t had a new post since February or March or when ever it is. so I am still here…. 🙂



Hi, Louise – Thanks so much for replying. I didn’t realize that you were working five days a week….and preparing for another Nepal Trek. No wonder you do not have time to think about a new blog — that totally makes sense! I look forward to hearing about your upcoming trek whenever you have time for that post.


Charlie is absolutely delightful, Donna! What a joy to spend time with him. Thank you for sharing the lessons he taught you. I laughed at his comment about your hair! Such honesty is so refreshing! I’ve been a grandmother for almost 7 years now, and agree with all your observations about this fantastic journey. It took some time at first for me to get into the groove. But now I’m fully immersed. I have to do better about activities that don’t cost money. I’m a sucker for buying them ‘stuffies’ which they are obsessed with. I rationalize they will abandoned these toys sooner than I want, so I’ll encourage it while they love them. 😉


Hi, Molly – I took immediately to grandparenting as to retirement (both began one month apart from each other). I’m delighted that my grandchildren were all born after my retirement so that I did not miss any significant grandchild-related events while I was overseas. I’m usually a sucker for buying/spoiling, but Charlie’s family currently lives in an apartment, and both parents would not be amused with more stuff. Besides, when I have purchased items, Charlie usually preferred to play with the box the toy came in! I know that this will quickly change!


I have to say that Charlie has taught us all some valuable life lessons by reading his Grandma’s post, Donna. I especially like number 3. I can imagine how much that would change the world of ours, especially the politicians – they could learn a lot from that.
Glad you had a great time with Charlie. I’m looking forward to hearing more from him and Jordyn.


Thanks, Hugh – It’s funny how simple life lessons can be — and how adults can get so far off-track from them. Thank you for your kind comments about enjoying Charlie (and Jordyn’s) perspectives — they are a pleasure to share!


How delightful your post is Donna! I’m smiling! The photos are gorgeous and life lessons can and do come out of the mouths of babes!

I remember many years ago taking my very young son, maybe 6 months old, to the bank and putting him on the counter when I was at the till. (No, he wasn’t part of the transaction). The young teller behind the screen said ‘oh is he your grandson?” – well, I had to smile! I related this story to my sister who had had a very similar experience – with her young daughter on the counter at a bank she was asked the same question!

I can’t wait to be a grandmother … I wish my sons would make a plan! Or do more than that, come to think of it!


Hi, Susan – Thank you for your lovely comment. The teller at your bank apparently needed glasses, and perhaps a few more social skills. I am 11 years younger than my husband. You need to be 65+ to receive a discount at the Ferry. (I turn 60 in October). TWICE, when I booked our Ferry in advance, the woman at the ticket booth starred at my husband, starred at me, starred back at my husband, then asked: “which one of you is the senior?”.


Thanks, Lisa – Although I try hard to avoid it, my husband continually has the news turned on. It was wonderful to escape that negativity for a full week (the TV/radio…not my husband)! It was also a profound reminder of the beauty of simplicity.


Amen to #2 R and R! I largely live in the moment – feeling like a 3 YO myself LOL – but watching my 2 year old niece strengthened this idea even more, in my mind. Time is an illusion. Only Now exists. Seize it, and quit worrying about the future or bemoaning the past. Rocking post!



Hi, Ryan – Thank you for visiting and commenting. As adults, we can get caught up in what we’ve done, and what we need to do, that we can quickly lose sight of “life is now”. Children can be an excellent teachers of this! (This is a life lesson that I need frequent reminders of especially when busyness takes over)!


I love three year old logic as well. Our grandson was three last week and his parents took him to a build a bear shop. He chose a monster voice for the voice box. The next day they had to take it back to get it changed as he was too frightened to sleep with it in his bedroom.


Hi Donna, isn’t spending time with our grandchildren magic! There is nothing better and your Charlie is such a cutie. I love that Ethan has taught me to live in the moment and enjoy life rather than rushing here and there. We have so much fun just laying down and watching the clouds or pretending to be pirates. Enjoy your darling grandson. xx


Hi, Sue – Thank you so much with your perseverance in commenting — I appreciate it greatly. I agree about learning to live in the moment. I am finding that old dogs actually can learn new tricks! 🙂
Charlie likes to play pirates as well. It would be fun to have the chance to get Charlie and Ethan together!


What a beautiful child Charlie is!

Of all the pleasant surprises about retirement, having grandchildren and time to spend with them is absolutely the best! I am so glad to be a grandma – something I never even thought about 40 years ago when I was trying to decide what direction my life would take.



Hi, Jude – Grandchildren are one of the reasons that we retired when we did. Fourteen years was a long time to be away from family (even with regular holidays to visit them). We’ve been here for the births of each of our grandchildren — and would not have wanted it any other way.
Thank you for catching up on my posts — I appreciate it greatly.


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