"If we had known how wonderful grandchildren are, we would have had them first."

The origin of this statement is unknown. I initially heard it many years ago from a patient. The words celebrate the magical moments that grandchildren repeatedly bring into our lives.

A family gathering at Thanksgiving provided the opportunity to listen to eight of our 10 grandchildren. Five questions fueled our chats:

1) What living American do you most admire?

2) What national or international problem concerns you most?

3) What is the most important thing that you have learned this year?

4) What book, movie, or televised program has most captured your admiration this year?

5) What message would you like to send to President Trump this year?

* Graduate student Delphi responded: 1) Ruth Bader Ginsberg; 2) The systemic inequality that is built into our society; 3) U.S. legal system requires ongoing work to assure equal rights for all; 4) "Becoming" by Michelle Obama; 5) "Listen, just listen."

* Graduate student Matthew: 1) Hillary Clinton; 2) Accelerated climate change; 3) "Dignity: Seeking Respect in Back Row America," photo-journalism about forgotten Americans by Chris Arnade; 4) "Avengers End Game," Disney film; 5) Would he listen?

* Undergraduate Lydia: 1) Michelle Obama; 2) Immigration reform; 3) Find balance among responsibilities to avoid being overwhelmed; 4) "Drama of the Gifted Child" by psychiatrist Alice Miller and "Living Undocumented," Netflix documentary; 5) "Sharing is caring."

* Undergraduate Rachel: 1) Gymnast Simone Biles; 2) Environmental destruction; 3) Real-world applications in my classes; 4) "A Little Life," a novel by Hanya Yanagihara; 5) "Care about the environment."

* High school junior William: 1) Bill Gates; 2) Police and military brutality in Hong Kong and mainland China; 3) Chinese surveillance state; 4) "Stranger Things," Netflix series; 5) "Redirect some military spending toward fixing our infrastructure. Disengage from wars in Middle East."

* High school sophomore Lili: 1) Taylor Swift for her artistry and composure; 2) Gun violence; 3) Talk less; listen more; 4) "Legally Blonde," the musical; 5) "Your interpretation of the Constitution is killing people."

* Middle school Naomi: 1) Mrs. Bundy, my seventh grade algebra teacher, "Strict but fair;" 2) Global warming; 3) "No matter what we do or how many minds we may change, there will always be people who think badly of others." 4) "The War That Saved My Life" and "The War I Finally Won," novels by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley; 5) "Treat others the way that you want to be treated."

* Fifth grader Clifton: 1) Mrs. Griswold, my third grade teacher, "Kind and patient;" 2) The possibility of war; 3) "Don't take things that don't belong to you without asking." 4) "The Dragon Prince," Netflix series; 5) "Do not take us to war."

At the end of our conversations, the questions were turned to me: 1) New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof for regularly expanding my knowledge and concerns; 2) Accelerated climate change; 3) Constitutional safeguards are working but threatened as never before; 4) "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood," a movie reminder of the power of gentleness as exemplified by Mister Rogers; 5) "You must listen to the concerns of all Americans and act accordingly."

It's your turn. What are your and/or your grandchildren's responses to these questions?

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Dr. Cliff Cleaveland / Staff file photo

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