I come from a family of three children. Pam and I had three children. Our oldest son and his wife have three children. Three generations of threes; is there something in that? I remember reading an article during the space race as NASA transitioned from the Gemini program, that was all about earth orbit and space docking, to the Apollo program, that actually put a man on the moon. They did a number of studies that seemed to indicate that three was the perfect number to put in a small enclosed environment like a space capsule. Something about having enough room psychologically to deal with interpersonal stress as there was always another person to make an alliance with if you were having problems with one colleague. Guess this argument breaks down somewhat at the marriage partner level, doesn’t it!

Anyway three seemed to work well for our children and it works well for Jon and Nic’s as well. No person’s life goes perfectly smoothly and if you are having a poopy spell and you are an only child that it can be tough to handle. But if you feel like opting out of whatever is going on and there are three of you, well the other two can carry on playing together while you get your issues sorted and feel like participating again. Not that our grandkids were being particularly poopy, but everyone gets out of sorts when things don’t work out exactly the way you had thought they would.

Eli and Abi had a lovely little visit in the wagon on the way to school at the end of the day to pick up Ben. The sun was pleasantly warm, they had sufficient toys along on the ride to promote interaction and they were able to create their own little space as they moved effortlessly down the sidewalk. However, Ben had an armload of projects to take home at the end of the school year and there was only room for Eli on the return trip. Abi was miffed. But Eli was happy and Ben had a lot of explaining to do about his construction work on his Styrofoam and sandpaper collage so Abi simply had to get over herself, which she of course did. All that is all to the good for how she will later have to deal with setbacks in her adult world.

The other factor is that Grandma was happy to substitute a piggyback ride for the wagon and that delighted Abi no end. This is not only another good life lesson but an illustration of the importance of the extended family in the lives of our children. Mom and Dad are obviously fundamental, and the argument that single parents or same gendered parents can be as effective is simply seeking to rationalize what is essentially dysfunctional. But of only slightly less importance is the connection to grandparents and neighbours, cousins and uncles that not only enrich our children’s lives, but provide other sources of love and acceptance, life-lessons and role-modeling. I had one grandparent growing up, and although she was a dear, it was a poor substitute for the full complement of family that our circumstances disallowed. Our grandchildren have four loving and doting grandparents, and although they don’t see Pam and me often, we let them know when we can just how important they are to us. It can’t help but make a difference to their view of the larger world.