Children grow up so fast.

That's an expression I've heard a lot through the years. I know this to be true now that I have grandchildren.

My two youngest, Spencer and Tyler, will turn four and seven next month. Okay. They haven't actually grown up, yet. But they're growing fast.

I'm trying to figure out the perfect birthday presents for them.

Spencer will probably get a camera. Not a Fisher Price model but an actual working camera on which he can take photos and put them onto a camera card.

Even though he's only three, he can grab any camera in the house including my Nikons and take interesting photos. He carefully frames the photos. He enjoys taking people pictures.

Granted he doesn't know how to adjust the shutter speeds or other settings on the work camera, but he's good at composing a photo.

Also, he treats the camera with respect. He puts the strap around his neck and holds the device with both hands.

Plus, he's pretty keen at navigating the computer to look at any photos we download.

Tyler also is an excellent photographer. He already has his own digital camera and handles it like a pro.

When he was younger we got him toy cameras but they bored him very quickly; like within minutes.

Since he already has a good camera, we're not sure what we'll get him for his birthday.

Fortunately, he has a wide spectrum of interests. He's quite an artist. He enjoys fishing and camping. He, as well as his brother, loves trains. A field trip always makes both boys very happy.

The past two years, Tyler's aunt visited from Europe and took him on special birthday train rides. The rides consisted of him traveling in the engine of the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway.

Watching my grandchildren, it's so hard to understand all the heartbreak that occurs in too many households with young children.

Just this week, there was a court case where a young child died from abuse in an area home. The child had been confined to a car seat in the home for 16 hours unattended. The child was dehydrated and deprived proper medical equipment.

I've covered incidents during my career of youngsters beaten to death by adults, sexually abused, abandoned. No penalty for such perpetrators is too harsh. In fact, usually the sentences received are too lenient considering what the victims have endured.

I won't go into ugly details of some of the court cases I've covered over the years, or police reports I've received.

Spencer and Tyler are very fortunate to have loving parents and grandparents. Sure I get angry and yell at them sometimes. But they quickly forgive and never seem hold it against me.

They make me think about my grandparents. My grandparents raised me. They were very poor and not in the best of health, but they made sure I had a roof over my head and in other ways provided.

We have more material things in our household for Spencer and Tyler than what my grandparents had for me, but there are some things that are the same.

I recall one Christmas, wanting a firetruck with a large ladder on it that I doubted I would get. Even a little boy knows that sometimes realities precede dreams and my grandfather wouldn't have the money for such a toy.

Yet, he somehow managed to get the truck.

I hope I can find some birthday presents for Spencer and Tyler to make them even half as happy as I was that Christmas. And always give them the same non-material things that my grandparents had given me.