By Ken Myers
Many times grandparents think that they have to come up with really grand entertainment for their grandchildren. What your grandchildren really want is your love and attention. When they feel your love and know that you just enjoy their company that makes any place, doing anything, a great time.
Grandparents in these times we live in are all at different stages in our lives. Some grandparents find that they are extremely young, others are somewhere in the middle, and many are in retirement. No matter what age you find yourself a grandparent there are simple ways to hang out and have a great time together.
As I think back about my own grandparents I realize now that one set had very little monetarily to give and the other set had quite a bit. I did not realize it at the time and it really did not make a difference to any of us grandkids. We loved them for who they were and how much they loved us, not for what they gave us. In fact my most precious memories are from times when we did absolutely nothing and just sat and talked.
I remember great-grandma; she was alive until I was twelve. She was in her late seventies or early eighties and retired. She was still full of energy and practically never sat down. She was always cleaning, cooking, or sewing something when we went to visit. But whatever she was doing she always included us in on. She taught us how to make biscuits from scratch and let us use the biscuit cutter. Or she sat us down next to her while she used her old pedal sewing machine and showed us how to make quilts. If one of the girls happened to bring a doll with her then great-gram would use a scrap of material and whip up a dress on the spot! We were all very impressed. Whatever she was doing, we were doing. And I do not remember her ever saying she loved us in words but we knew it and that was the joy of being with great-gram; you just knew she loved you.
My maternal grandparents were not poor but they were not rich either. My granddad was a frugal guy with the money that they did have and since grandma stayed home he was in charge of the finances. We lived close to them so pretty much every day we were at their house while grandpa was at work. Since my mom was raised up living many years with great-gram while grandpa was off to war she had picked up the habit of practically never sitting down. She would clean our house up and still have time to go over to grandmas and help her clean her house! It had somehow skipped a generation with grandma because she was not quite so driven. She was the type of grandma that would sit down and read to us and talk about whatever and hold our hands. I will never forget her soft white hands. She did not need to do anything for us; she just gave of her time and her love of the everyday. She told us all about flowers, birds, trees, and nature. We would sit and pull weeds and talk about the different plants in her garden. We would take walks in the woods behind her house and bring home the most beautiful leaves to press between the pages of our books. She read us the Bible, poetry, nature books, and general stories and it was so lovely just to be with her.
My paternal grandparents were substantially better off as far as finances go and they were much older than my maternal grandparents. They were already retired and living in Florida when I was very small, even though I vaguely recall spending some time in the East visiting them and it was very cold! We only saw them a couple times a year but when we did they always had made some kind of plans for us to go somewhere interesting. Since they lived in Florida there was quite a bit to do and see even though it was before Disney World was big. We still had Bush Gardens, Marine World, and the lovely beaches all around Florida. As I look back I think that they were not the type to sit around with us kids and chat. They had nick names instead of grandma and grandpa: they were Munna and Papa. Since my dad was the baby and his siblings were ten and fifteen years older than him we were the last of their grandkids and the other kids were lots older. I think they were out of practice so they were always busy trying to find ways to entertain us. That was okay with us; we did not mind at all. We knew that they loved us but we also knew that they were not quite sure what to do with us either.
This is the point I am trying to make. Your grandchildren will fit into your program; whatever you want to do with them they will flow with as long as they feel your love. Children are very perceptive in that they can feel true love and interest and accept what you have to offer. I have also seen grand parenting situations were there is no real love but a lot of money going out to try and cover up for the lack of love. As the children grow older they are drawn to the grandparent who loves them with no resources verses the grand parent with the unlimited funds. These grandparents are generally only called upon at Christmas and birthdays. Watching from the outside it sometimes looks as if that is enough for those grand parents, just to give grand gifts. Perhaps that is the only reservoir they have to draw from.
At whatever stage you find yourself as a grandparent it can be easy if you just let them join into your life and to know you for who you are. Whether you are very energetic or you just like to sit and read they will fit into the pattern of your life. I watched my own mom when she became a grandmother. She never had a lot but she shared everything she knew and everything she had done with my children. She taught them how to shoot marbles, how to garden, how to climb a tree safely, and how to fish. She loved the outdoors and often took them on day trips to hike, swim, and take a closer look at nature. These are memories they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
I am not like my mom or any of my grandparents and I have a different way of looking at life and my own personality to share. I am the silly one; I love to be animated and tell amazing stories. I like to camp out in the family room in a small dome tent. I like to make popcorn balls with our hands covered in butter to keep them from burning. I love watching cartoons, playing hide and seek, and having puppet shows.
It does not matter who you are as a grandparent it only matters how much you love and how much of yourself you share. The children know when you are giving them your best and they will hold these times as the dearest of times as they grow old with their own grandkids.
Ken Myers is a father of three and passionate about great childcare. He’s always looking for ways to help families find the support they need to live fuller, richer lives. Find out more about expert childcare by checking out @go_nannies on Twitter.
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