The Grandmother I Always Wanted ... Celebrate Grandparents’ Day, Sept. 8, 2019 - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado Island News

The Grandmother I Always Wanted ... Celebrate Grandparents’ Day, Sept. 8, 2019

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Posted: Friday, August 30, 2019 4:07 pm

One of my former students recently sent me a message on Facebook: “Can you give me some advice on raising teenagers?” After a silent chuckle, I wrote, “That would take a book.” Then I did mention a few words of advice before suggesting she call and we talk: make sure they know you love them; know their friends and family; know where they are and what they’re doing; keep them busy with meaningful activities; listen to them; say no as seldom as possible but mean it when you say it. I might, also, have added, “Involve grandparents often.”

Having concerned grandparents can mitigate some of the angst every teenager seems to generate. In fact, having a multitude of adults surrounding the teens with frequent contact seems to dissipate some of the possible trouble spots. One more person to enter the picture, attend events, give deserved praise, listen, and show loving attention assures a teen that people love him and he matters.

Coronado is flush with multi-dimensional grandparents who fill in for working parents or simply enjoy being with the grandchildren. You see them riding bikes with younger children, eating ice cream surrounded by the younger set, pushing strollers or the swings at the park, holding hands as they walk around town. The current crop of grandparents seems to enjoy their role more than those in the 1950s, who were around but not in a meaningful way. Of course, there were exceptions. While friends tell me of their very engaged grandparents, I never knew any like that unless the child lived with the grandparents.

My three children did not have grandfathers they remember. Both died too early, one while I was pregnant with our first child, but my 12 grandchildren would have no trouble pinning a “Top Notch Papa” medal on their papa. He is never too busy to drop what he is doing to spend time with one of them. He taught the first few to ride a bike with subsequent bike trips that included a donut shop stop. Later the driving lessons were his job. The two with learner’s permits now know he will suggest they drive each time they are in the car with only him.

When we were talking about cooking recently, I asked a granddaughter who taught her to cook, really assuming it was her mother. She looked quizzically at me and said, “You did, Nana.” If they are performing, we happily attend, whether sports, music, or drama events. Attending movies with the grandchildren, whether action or children’s movies, is high on our list of favorites. Truthfully, the specific movie or activity is unimportant. It may not be something we would ordinarily enjoy, like watching hours of T-ball in the sun or an elementary school talent show with no legitimate try outs, but you would never know it. If any one of the 12 is participating and we can attend, we will.

Some grandparents enjoy the interaction with young grandchildren if it is brief. A game of Chinese Checkers may be acceptable but forget Monopoly which can endure for hours. Kudos to the grandparents who say yes to any of the games. A week at an amusement park, even with parents to help, may be on the no-list for many grandparents, but I often hear stories of grandparents enjoying the tiring days at the parks or on Disney cruises, getting drenched on the water rides, standing in line to save a spot while the children are riding elsewhere, then giving the space to them while heading for the next line. Yes, we enjoy riding with them, too, but if the lines are long, we would rather they get more rides in for the day and not become exhausted standing in long lines. It’s their time; we have lots of our time.

As for meals, what makes the children happy? When we took the young grandchildren to Disney World, Golden Corral was the choice each night. No problem, since, surely, anyone can find enough on the extensive buffet line to enjoy even if it is every night for a week.

The frame of reference dictates the children have fun; adults take a back seat. We grandparents have plenty of time to do what pleases us when the grandchildren are not around, which comes all too soon. As they become teenagers and young adults, their days become full and time for us becomes less frequent, as we are now finding out. We realize that is the way it should be, take advantage of the precious time available for us, and feel grateful for the rich memories of past times together.

On Facebook, it is not unusual to see pictures of grandparents cuddling their grandchildren, of day trips to museums and parks. Having the advantage of living longer than previous generations, we have time in retirement to step up and influence the lives of the following generations. We should be conscious of what our role is with our grandchildren as well as with other young people who may need a grandparent figure.

National Grandparents Day has been noted each year since 1978; however, unlike Mothers’ and Fathers’ Days, hardly anyone celebrates it. It arrives annually on the first Sunday after Labor Day in the U.S., Sept. 9 this year. “The statute cites the day’s purpose: ‘...to honor grandparents, to give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children’s children, and to help children become aware of strength, information, and guidance older people can offer’.”

If you are fortunate enough to have living grandparents, honor them. Send a card, call, or take them out to lunch. More specifically, just show you care. I remember my mother at 89 commenting that all her friends had died. Her family was all she had. Fortunately, she had five attentive grandchildren.

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