Grandma Teaching Tolerance and Acceptance With A Smile

Childrens MuseumRecently, I was relating to a friend a wonderful and memorable day I had spent with my then near three year old grandson intending to give him a day of “firsts” in his young life. I took him on his first train ride to Manhattan, going underground for the first time into Grand Central Station. The massive building, skyscrapers, and mass of commuters and humanity made his huge eyes bigger as we navigated the city. I decided we would walk miles to the Children’s Museum of Manhattan on the Upper West Side, he in his stroller, of course.  We stopped to watch police on horses, construction workers, traffic, skyscrapers, Central Park. I gave him bits of food along the way, a chocolate donut, a hot pretzel.

My grandson and I had a wonderful visit at the museum, especially perfect for

his age group. Then, I planned his first taxi ride back to Grand Central Station to have lunch there, and nap time would coincide with the return train ride. The taxi windows were open and he waved and said hi to all the people out the windows at the frequent stops. He has always been friendly and outgoing. He loved the taxi ride while I, of course, with the responsibility of his well-being, was concerned about the then lack of seat belts and held him tightly in my lap.

It was a mob scene at lunch in Grand Central Station. I got our pizza and drinks and maneuvered his stroller trying to find a place to sit. Every seat was taken and there was little area to even stand and eat. This was not part of the perfect day I had planned. Then, I spied a table for four where there was only one occupant and three empty seats.

The Black man sitting at the table was huge, wearing a multicolored long robe, his hair in dreadlocks that came to his waist. I said to my grandson that we were going to sit with this nice man and eat our lunch together. He said, “NO!” To a three year old, the man must have looked like a giant, and one he surely had never seen before. I pushed the stroller to the table and asked if my grandson and I could join him at lunch. He spoke perfect English and said, of course, with a wide smile of many gold teeth. I smiled and said thank you. I sat down across from him. My grandson, wide eyed and uncommonly silent, refused to get out of the stroller and sit in a chair opposite this colorful giant with dreadlocks. As we ate, I spoke with the man and learned about him. My grandson ate in silence. We said our goodbyes, smiled, and my grandson and I took the train home. He napped as I planned.

My friend remarked that I really gave my grandson a lesson in tolerance and acceptance at age three. I thought a moment, and then agreed. I had planned so many firsts for his day and this unintended first turned out to be the most important.

When I am with my grandchildren, I point out other grandmas with their grandchildren. I always smile at the other grandmas–we ARE a special club. Families of different races, ethnicities, cultures, and I point out how those children are with their grandmas too, and like me, their grandmas love them very much too.

It had not occurred to me that pointing out different grandmothers with their grandchildren, a simple smile and acceptance of abuelas, omas, jaddas, tettas, bubas, grand-mamans, nannis, and their grandchildren teaches our grandchildren the important lesson that we grandmas, however different we all are, share love of our grandchildren. We grandmas can be the example of tolerance and acceptance with a smile.






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