Grandparenting and second-hand shopping have a lot in common.

Both are absolutely wonderful.

They're not first of all mine. Their way of being has been tested. I don't have to break them in. And there's a lot less thought about how things look, what will people think of me, and does it match?

Aside from the pleasant frugality of shopping second-hand, I know the product has been tried. If it was going to shrink, it is shrunk. If it was fragile, it wouldn't be there. If it scuffs easily, I can see the scuffs. This has belonged to someone else. And now I have an opportunity to take it home if I wish.

Nothing to do with the trend of the day. What works works. Sometimes crazy pizzaz, and usually just plain comfortable and easy-wear. Sometimes bright and shiny, usually fairly non-descript.

Parenting is dealing with someone brand new! Our whole identity seems at stake. People are watching, aren't they? How will our children behave? What will people think when my child tantrums at the grocery store?

Non-issues for the grandparent. Our grandchildren are amazing and beautiful, whether they're in the latest elegant fashion or in rumpled rainbow gear. A toolbelt or crazy skirt add flair. No urge to criticism. And people watching know I am second-hand to these kids!

The pride and the problem really aren't mine.

There's a freedom in being second-hand. Freedom to do whatever the child wants to do. Shall we read a story? Puzzle? Swing? take a walk? No errands or work in the way. And candies are okay.

First-hand is so involved. The price is higher. Expectations strong. Risks inherent in each new endeavor. I'm glad to wait for the second-hand experience.