Grandparents are prone to saying silly things like, “I wish I had known how much fun grandchildren are, I would have had them first.” I have said that I feel guilty because I think I like the grandkids better than I did their parents. Either way you say it, the fact is that grandkids can be a reawakening of all that we felt when we first thought about bringing children into this world. It’s a chance to really enjoy them without all the stress of doing the right thing, as we all know that grandparents can wreak havoc on the best-laid discipline plans. We have two—a son from our daughter and a daughter from our son—and as far as I can tell, that will be it. I know people who have 15—I couldn’t imagine keeping their names straight, and I am sure Christmas would be an annual trip to the edge of bankruptcy!
I have such great memories of my grandparents. My Italian Grammy and Grampy spoke very little English, but they expressed their love by trying to get me to eat—mangiare is about the only Italian I know. Grampy used to say that I ate like a “little bird,” which I thought was kind of cute until I read somewhere that birds eat their weight in food everyday. My maternal grandma used to chase us kids around the house and scare us by pushing out her dentures and growling like a monster.
Kids love to be scared as long as they control the scenarios. The six-year-old granddaughter loves to play hide and seek, and fortunately for her, we have a monster in residence. She makes me hide with her, but before I do, I tell my husband that he has monster duties to perform. He finds us and actually scares both of us—go figure. One time we were hiding on the floor by our bed and she said, “Shame on you Grandma, you have dust bunnies.” I asked her if she plays hide and seek at her other grandma’s and she said, “No, their house is too pretty.”
There is no job description for grandparents, but a good imagination and a lot of stamina are the main ingredients needed. Imagination is what really helps children learn about their world and cope with problems. The willingness to enter into pretend play with your grandchild will be the most rewarding thing you can do. My granddaughter and I were in our pretend castle one day, and she was Queen Heather, while I chose a more traditional queen name, Louise. I wasn’t sure how large the kingdoms were, but she did make a very strong, telling statement: “There will be no kings!” Following what I considered our reign of terror, we switched roles and went into the woods, where we were transformed into Indians living off the land. We had to sleep on a very narrow log while we ate bark and explored. After several “restless nights” I retreated to a lawn chair, asking her for a break, to which she replied, “No way, Grandma, you came to play!”
She loves to dance and is very creative at choreography, which often includes me. One day I told her that we were dancing with the stars, and she replied, “You can be a star by just being a nice person.” Wow—all that imagination, and wisdom too! She is also protective, like the time we were watching Harry Potter and there was a big scary spider. She said, “Don’t watch! This isn’t for grownups, it is just for kids.”
My grandson has also developed his own style of wisdom. When he was about seven years old, we were watching TV, and the Lexus for Christmas ad came on. I asked him if he would buy me one of those when he became rich and famous, to which, without more than a second of thought, he reared his head back and exclaimed, “Grandma! You’ll be like 95, and you won’t be able to drive!”
I got a similar response when he started to cook. I asked him how he learned, and he said, “Hello—Like, maybe I’ve been watching the Food Channel.” The most recent dismissal came when I asked him what he planned to be when he grows up—he said maybe a doctor, or maybe in the NBA. I told him that by the time he got done with doctor training, I could probably use a free doctor. “Not so fast, Grandma,” he said, “who said anything about it being FREE?”
There is an old proverb that states: “You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother.” That explanation does not especially have to be verbal. I remember when my grandson was about one year old. I hadn’t seen him for a couple of months, and he had started walking. I finally got to visit, and when I came into the room, he spotted me, broke out in a big smile and ran toward me, arms wide open. That image still brings tears to my eyes as he explained to me by his actions that he understands love—his and mine.
And there was the day as we were play-acting Snow White for the fifth time (yes, I was the witch!), my granddaughter stopped, looked at me and said; “I’m having a great day with you!” Does it get any better than that? TPW