A tribute to grandparents for Valentine's Day.

Why do grandparents make kids so happy?

In 1970, mother and Chicago Tribune columnist Joan Beck tried to answer that question with this piece, which ran under the headline “Happiness Is Grandparents to Spoil You.” 

Beck, who eventually became the first woman to serve on the Tribune’s editorial board, was still writing for the paper when she died in 1998 at age 75.

One of the happiest dimensions of a small child’s life is usually his grandparents, because …

A grandfather is an extra dime or quarter whenever you need one, without saying, “What did you do with that money I gave you last Saturday?”

A grandmother is sugar cookies and chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter cookies and not counting how many you eat and not always noticing how close it is to dinner time.

A grandfather is for saying, “Of course he needs a watch, a fine boy like that—why, he’s almost eight years old.”

A grandmother is a soft lap on a rocking chair who doesn’t put you down and go away to take care of your little sister just because she’s crying.

A grandmother is someone to mother your mother when she needs it.

A grandfather is to fix things your father never finds time to fix, like your tippy tricycle seat and the loose wheel on your racing car.

Grandparents are to keep the baby so you and the other “big” people in your family can go on a special little trip together.

A grandmother is to say how wonderful, how clever, how bright you are when you show her the pictures you painted at school and read her the book you learned to read and give her the pin dish you made out of clay.

A grandmother is to write you real letters in the mail before anyone else even understands that you know how to read.

Grandparents are to send you the kind of birthday cards that always have money in them.

Grandparents are to go to visit overnight all by yourself when you need to get away from it all for a while and you’re not old enough to go anywhere else.

A grandfather is to tell you about how you could get a double-dip cone for a nickel when he was a little boy and then buy you one with a dip of licorice and a dip of chocolate swirl even though it costs 37 cents. 

A grandmother is to sew on buttons and mend your sweater and wash the baby’s diapers if she’s your mother’s mother; a grandmother is “company coming” if she’s your father’s mother. 

Grandparents are for sending you big surprise packages so the mailman says, “Boy, aren’t you a lucky guy!” when he brings them and even if there’s clothes in them, there’s always something neat, too.

Grandparents are someone who likes your family to come and visit even when you have to take along the baby’s bassinet and sixty zillion diapers and all those bottles and even the baby.

A grandmother is to say, “Don’t you think he might stay up a little later tonight as long as we’re here?” and it works.

Grandparents are to make your mother happy when they call up long distance for no reason at all except it’s Sunday and talk $5.75 worth.

A grandfather is to tell you what it was like in the olden days when there wasn’t any television and there were dinosaurs.

Grandparents are somebody else who loves you when you aren’t good just because you’re you.