Sharing

“My turn” is a favorite phrase of my grandchildren. I’m sure they learned it at preschool where it really means something. At home, where they are the only ones playing with their toys, its significance gets a bit skewed.

Sharing is hard. As a hostess, I’m always tempted to save the cake with the most frosting for myself – definitely not good sharing modeling. It’s easier to share Brussels sprouts and ocher colored crayons. But, sharing your favorite dress, hoping it comes back clean and usable, that’s a leap of faith. No wonder your grandson doesn’t want to let his new neighbor play with his bright red locomotive.

When I’m playing with the grandkids, I ask when it will be my turn. That way, I always get a turn, eventually. If I hadn’t asked, would I get one? Sometimes. Sharing isn’t instinctive. It’s an acquired skill. So few of us share unconditionally. We should remember that taking turns is learned and relearned by everyone all the time.

Be patient (another acquired skill on which I’m still working). If you insist on taking turns, sharing will slowly become more automatic. It’s just another life lesson…and another reason to get down on the floor and play with your grandchildren.

Camp

Attending summer camp is non-negotiable in my world. Camp is where I made life-long friendships. Camp is where I was my most authentic self. Camp is where I was able and willing to try out new skills without fear of embarrassment because camp is all about laughing when you miss the archery target or fall off the sailboard. And, camp is all about getting back up and trying again.

I made my first well-turned out bed at camp. That’s a useful skill. Braiding lanyards, not so much! I waited on tables. I chose when to shower and when to just jump in the lake. These are big deals to a nine-year-old.

Camp is where I learned both independence and commitment. I became a correspondent and a more adventurous eater. Living in close quarters with a dozen other girls honed my sense of empathy.

My camp smelled good – wind and lake and trees. If felt good – pine needles make a remarkably soft carpet. It still looks the same – green and white and brown. Nothing fancy, but very comforting. Camp sounds good. I sing camp songs to my grandchildren while I rock them to sleep. They’ll be ready for camp since they’ll know all the tunes when their turns come.

Encourage your kids to send their children to camp. Even if it’s only for one week for one summer, try camp. Your family will thank you – forever.

Mud

It only seems fair. Last month I wrote about spring showers and dancing in the rain. What warm, tender images. Well, it’s May and where I live, that’s Mud Season.

Why, oh why, is mud so attractive to otherwise clean children? My three-year-old grandson is fastidious about lining up his dozens of toy cars and trucks. He can sort them by size, by color, even by function. He eats everything with a spoon and fork. But, when he sees a mud puddle…

I had a friend who told her preschooler to stop jumping in puddles because he got his clothes soaking wet. One day on the playground, as we were tending to our newborns, we turned to find Bill back in the puddle – and completely naked. Wet clothes problem solved. Smart (and obedient) boy!

Mud makes wonderful sounds. It yanks at your shoes and feels funny. It makes adults squeal. Maybe we should all try jumping in a mud puddle or two.

Spring Showers

Spring showers. Warm weather. Those things should make my granddaughter happy because she hates any day that isn’t sunny and mild. She complains about wet, hot, cold and wind. She’s terrified of snow and not all that thrilled about rain. Do You Like Snow? is my next book. I’m looking at a fall publish date. Guess who I used as my inspiration?

One of my goals for spring is to dance in the rain with this climate-phobic two-year-old. She loves her baths. Now, I want her to get her good and soggy with her clothes on. She doesn’t mind dirt. Let’s see how she does with mud.

Of course, I’ll have to plan ahead to clean her up before we go back inside. I don’t want to be chasing a slippery toddler around my house (or my daughter’s). I made those rookie mistakes with my own kids. I know better now.

I also know that dancing in the rain is a time to giggle and wonder. What could be better with your grandkids? Give it a go this spring.

Everyone Has A Story

What’s your story? It’s probably part comedy, part tragedy, part farce with maybe some adventure thrown in. I tend to see the world through silly, rose-colored glasses so my story is funny and cheerful (even when it’s not). We all have a point of view. That’s what helps to make our own story unique. 

We need to pass on our versions of our lives. Our kids and grandkids can’t possibly know everything about us – and maybe they shouldn’t. But, they will want to know about our childhoods, our rebellious years (some more rebellious than others), our romances, our careers, our hobbies, our passions. There are grandparent books with charts to complete. But, these charts just tell the dry facts. Your story, embellished and colored as you wish, can communicate so much more. You can really get to know your family and they can enjoy the fuller you.

I was a National Park Ranger. My kids still find that hilarious. It’s a slice of my life that they enjoy and find unbelievable. It’s just one part of me. Talk about your life.

Tell your story!

Keeping Up / Keeping In Shape

Being an active grandparent is not for the faint (literally) of heart! I chase. I climb and am climbed upon. I stretch. I carry progressively wiggly bundles of joy. So, at the beginning of a new year, it seems appropriate to be making the following resolution – I will stay in shape so I can be the most hands-on grandmother possible.

I do yoga…and Pilates…and work with a weight trainer. My grandmother never did these things. She just cooked and sewed (both badly, I might add). My mother in her busy life deliberately eschewed any activity that might make her sweaty, that would’ve ruined her hair and make-up. Me? I’m a quivering lump of exhaustion by 8 p.m. five days a week.

My weight trainer actually keeps tabs on my granddaughter’s growth so he can match my lifting in the gym to my lifting as a babysitter. Brilliant! My husband (also a yoga and cardio devotee) and I have managed to cram ourselves into playground equipment so no hidey-hole is left unexplored. We are very participatory. It takes work, sweat and lots of groaning to keep ourselves in proper grandparent shape. Is it worth it?

You bet! The kids have more fun when we can really play with them. And, let’s face it. We have more fun, too. That’s kind of the point of this resolution. I resolve to be the most playful grandmother I can be. Happy 2018 and good luck with your resolutions.

Holiday Chaos

My home never ever looks like a Martha Stewart ad or a Norman Rockwell painting during the busy, fall, holiday season. It bears closer resemblance to the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party – dirty dishes and snacks everywhere, people popping in and out unannounced, and toys, toys, toys. Yes, our big family celebrations are boisterous and cluttered – as they should be.

I used to count every block, every magnetic letter each night while stacking the kids’ toys in neat piles. Then…I became a grandmother! Suddenly time used imposing organization was much better spent on the floor, surrounded by dolls and trains. Wrapping paper and ribbons that once needed to be cleaned up immediately made great disguises. Meal times were, well, any time, all the time.

Kitchen utensils became permanent drum sticks and paint brushes. Tiny shoes and socks made trails throughout the house. Chalk and bubbles? Let’s just say I’m learning to embrace the mess of family events.

Absolutely nothing makes me happier than having all our kids and all our grandchildren in our home. When they’re visiting, I try to spend my time playing and laughing and telling stories. There will be plenty of time to savor restoring order once it’s just us two grandparents at home again.

Grandparents Need Not Be Objective

I am not a kid person. I never babysat. My younger sister tells some absurd story about being
tied to the back door railing so she couldn’t follow me down the street. What an imagination!
(You decide if I’m referring to the alleged tie-er or tie-ee.) I refuse to have a baby-talk
conversation with any other human being, regardless of age. But, in the matter of my own
children and their children…

They are the most brilliant, most charming, most handsome. You get the drift. I know quite well
that they’re not perfect. But, they’re perfectly my kids. No boy ever read earlier or was a more
complete Little League catcher, though he seems to have been born without a competitive
streak. No little girl ever found her passion or developed a distinct (if occasionally questionable)
fashion sense at such a young age.

Every spring, the recitals, school productions and championships rolled around. We went to
every one. We volunteered. We brought flowers and cameras. I told our kids how fabulously
they sang/danced/returned volley/vaulted. They always remarked, “You’re only saying that
because you’re our mother.” I can’t wait to make the same pronouncements for our singing,
dancing, bat swinging grandchildren.

Every grandparent should see her own grandkids as I see mine. I want every grandmother to
think her boy is the most gifted and attentive grandson ever. I want every father to be enthralled
by his little granddaughter. I want every child to know that she can count on being loved
unconditionally. The world is full of bullies and villains, neighborhood and global. I want kids to
have safe haven in the arms of someone who is always, always, always on their side.

When kids do wrong (and we all did), parents and grandparents can still be supportive. When
we dole out meaningful, measured, discipline, we still love our kids fully. A child without a loving
advocate is at a great loss in our society. Every new parent should realize that her child will be
the cutest and sweetest smelling baby ever. It is the job of the grandparents to have taught their
own children this lesson. I am the most non-objective grandmother in the world. That’s as it
should be.