During my childhood years, the time I spent with my grandparents is a still a treasured memory. I am luckier than they were because three of my four grandchildren live close by, and I am able to spend lots and lots of time with them. My own grandparents lived in on the East Coast, and I lived in California and Arizona. So my time with my grandparents was fairly limited.

I remember the rush of emotions I felt when I saw my grandson (and first grandchild) for the first time. He reminded me of a pink string bean, he was so long! He’d had some complications during birth, and they kept him in the neonatal nursery for 10 days, which was actually a blessing in disguise. Our daughter was very young at the time, and did not feel entirely confident in her ability to care for her new baby. So for those 10 days, the nurses in the neonatal nursery worked with our daughter and helped her to become more confident in her basic mothering skills.

Every day we would visit our new grandson at the hospital. Nestled between the incubators of two 1- pound babies, would be our 9-pound wonder! I would have mixed feelings: sadness for the parents of those tiny infants, and gratitude that our grandson was going to be okay.

Our daughter and her new baby lived with us for her baby’s first year, and I babysat while my daughter attended college. When baby was 10 months old, we planted a garden together. As I dropped the seeds into the soft, fertile ground, baby smashed the dirt on top of them with his chubby hands and feet. I labeled my plants with popsicle sticks: “green beans,” “radishes,” “corn,” and so on.

The next day, though, my grandbaby had pulled out all of the popsicle sticks and rearranged them in the soil his own way. It was the first garden that I had ever planted, and when the seeds began to sprout, I had no idea what they were. I would stare at the garden bed think, “Are YOU a radish? Are YOU a green bean?”

Now we have six grandchildren. I love it when they visit us because we get to spoil them rotten. I want them to have many, many happy memories of their time spent with “Nana” and “Papa.”

When our daughter had her third baby, we had four generations at the hospital together: me, my mom, my daughter, and her baby. When we bunched together around my daughter’s hospital bed for a picture, I couldn’t help thinking that it just doesn’t get any better than this. My heart was filled to the brim and spilling over with love.

Sometimes I fill in for our daughter when she needs me to, just as I am doing at the end of this week. She  is in nursing school at the same time our grandson’s school has scheduled a parent/teacher conference. Apparently our boy has been talking too much in class and getting into mischief on the playground. My daughter asked me if I would take her place at the conference and get to the bottom of what’s going on.

“Sure,” I said. “No problem.” I used to go to parent/teacher conferences at that very same school 20 years ago when my children attended there. But I was different with my children than I am with my grandchildren.

Because, no matter what they have done, in this grandmother’s eyes, grandchildren are innocent — even when proven guilty.