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Readers Share More of Their Ponies

Ask Dr. Gramma Karen: Readers Share More of Their Ponies

Dear readers,

Five months ago many of you shared with me your “ponies in the poop.”  You may recollect that I referenced the joke about a little boy gleefully digging through pile after pile of horse droppings. When asked what he was doing, he said, “Hey, with all this manure, there must be a pony in here somewhere!”

In this column I am happy to share some more readers’ ponies – that is, some of the positive things that have emerged as we deal with this Covid-19 pandemic.

Some of the pluses I’ve discovered:

  • Both Zoom and YouTube classes keep me active. For example, I have experimented with activities I was hesitant to try in person.
  • I have FaceTime birthday celebrations, as well as Sunday dinners with out-of-state family.
  • I’ve done two birthday drive-bys, and I have two more planned for this month. They’re more fun than you would think!

happy birthday car

  • My local book club, now held in neighbor’s driveway, has turned into giving book reports and swapping books.
  • The website Classmates.com has introduced me to some old classmates from 60+ years (yikes!) ago.
  • Since my son’s work with the disabled has been limited, his employer is sending him to law school.
  • I have just grown more appreciative of the people in my life!

Young parents move in with the grandparents:

Like most pre-coronavirus parents, before March, my husband and I were up early making lunches, getting ready for work, dropping our 2- and 4-year-old girls off at daycare, commuting into work, and then doing a busy evening routine with them. When everything in our hometown (NYC) shut down, we spoke to my parents about relocating to their house in the country on a lake, where I grew up.

We wanted the girls to be able to get as much fresh air as possible, and we also knew how much they would enjoy spending this extra time with their grandparents. Our slower pace of country living has exposed the girls to many new activities, such as, riding tractors, gardening, going on countless nature walks, and numerous water activities, just to name a few. My husband and I have been able to fulfill our work responsibilities, exercise, and spend quality time with each other, our daughters, and my parents during this unique time. We will be forever grateful to my parents for providing this opportunity for our family!

The grandfather describes this time together:

We never discussed how long they were going to stay, and here we are, five months later still living together. We’ve all have made adjustments and changes to make this new living arrangement work. For example, one of the first things we did was to convert one of our rooms into a playroom. We purchased and borrowed numerous toys, games, puzzles, and books from friends and neighbors. Another important action we took was to come up with a plan to tackle projects, such as house chores, grocery shopping, meal planning and preparation, and of course, activities for the children. It has worked well: My wife and I have special alone time, as well as time individually with the grandkids and/or their parents.

An unexpected benefit is how our four-year-old, especially, has helped us appreciate each day. For example, as we gather together at dinner time, she asks that we all give thanks to anyone that helped prepare the meal. Also, she always asks each of us to share what we did that day.

Living with the grandchildren has helped all of us learn to become more patient, flexible, and generous with our personal time. My wife and I will forever have priceless memories of this special time with our precious grandchildren.

My in-laws, who live nearby, bought an above-ground pool and a set of swings and a sandbox. In the nice weather, for the past few months, either I or my husband have been dropping off our two young children at their house. The grandparents show them a good time for several hours at a time. Since my husband and I run a small business out of our home, this has freed us up to do our work. Our kids love going there, and the “Grands” love having them.

round swimming pool

I am a single working mom with two kids, ages 7 and 9. At work, I am responsible for producing a weekly report that is detailed and requires several hours of concentration. A woman from another team at work contacted me and said that since her kids were grown and didn’t need attention the way my kids did, she would like to ease my load by doing the report. I barely knew this woman, and yet she has made my life so much easier! (She did not want to take any credit for the production of the report, but I put her name on it anyway.) Such a generous act of kindness and I have a new friend.

I think the best thing to come out of Covid-19 for my husband and me is the unexpected time we’ve had to spend with our sons. Teenagers don’t always want to spend time with their parents, but this pandemic has made us all closer. We have started watching a lot more family shows together, such as “The 100” and “The Office.” Pass the popcorn.

My parents, who live in the next town, converted their garage into a play and learning space for my two kids (a 4- and 5-year old). They set up a couple of tables with games, books, and different activities. Even though they leave the garage doors open, they all wear masks. Sometimes two neighbor kids join them. They bought a couple of big fans for when it’s hot out; they plan to buy heaters for the colder weather. The kids love this time with their grandparents, and my parents know they are helping me out, as well as giving these kids something fun and different.


So many “ponies” I can mention!

  • I am acutely aware of how many sacrifices my teenage grandchildren have made — for example, missing out on traditional graduations, proms, trips, and summer jobs, and having modified college experiences — and I am better at handling my own sadness and disappointments and dealing with uncertainty and the unpredictability of what will happen next.
  • I have used this time to strengthen my relationships – I have deepened my friendships by investing in them and carrying my weight in maintaining them.
  • Because my wife and I are not going out to restaurants, and it’s not fair that my wife does all the cooking, I have become a good cook.
  • I have come to grips with solitude, I have a new appreciation of the importance of meditation, and I feel gratitude in many new ways.

A couple of months into the quarantine, my mother, who lives in a different state, thanked me for making sure my 9-year-old twin boys texted her every day. I knew nothing about these texts! On their own, knowing their grandmother was isolated in an adult community, they took it upon themselves to text her on a daily basis with some joke, anecdote, or update on what they were doing. I am so proud of my boys and needless to say, Grandma loves hearing from them!

To read more from Karen L. Rancourt, click here 

democracyKaren L. Rancourt, Ph.D., writes an advice column, “Ask Dr. Gramma Karen,” hosted by GRAND Magazine and Mommybites.com. Her latest book is “It’s All About Relationships: New Ways to Make Them Healthy and Fulfilling, at Home and at Work.”democracy






Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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