Teen grandkids – when friends become the priority
BY ANN KOCHENBERGER
Bringing what looked like their entire dresser full of clothes, the grandchildren would frequently be over to spend the night. Climbing trees at the park, counting ceramic animals in gardens, or trips to the zoo was great fun. And then… they no longer came.
The reason was friends and classmates who took over their priority. Grammy and Papa faded into the background. It’s not easy to compete with friends. The teenage years when socialization kicks in are difficult to counter. What does a grandmother do?
There was only one way to deal with this interruption in our relationship – creative age-appropriate ideas, and I had several.
When they were about 11 we enticed them by taking turns choosing a restaurant. Morgan chose the Spaghetti Factory – accompanied by Anna and Ben, they sipped fancy drinks with colorful straws and fruit, and the five of us had a great evening filled with the giggling of grandchildren.
“My brain continues to come up with ideas, and so far we’ve reaped the benefits of continued time with them.”
The chocolate cake idea turned out to be a winner. Where do we find the best chocolate cake in Denver? Weekly taste-testing took us to NY Deli News, Bagel Deli, and Annie’s Café among others. With Morgan, a freshman, and Anna a junior – sometimes a friend or two – we visited once a week. It was a satisfying trek – who can argue with chocolate cake?
Moving on to lunch, where does one find the best-grilled cheese in town? It turns out it’s our kitchen where Papa has grilled cheese to perfection. Four or five would arrive from the high school just two blocks away and lunch would be ready. The kids loved it – as did their friends.
Summers before middle school, each chooses a trip somewhere in the US.
“No, Anna, Paris is not an option,” we told her – something she already knew. New York, it was. Scurrying around Manhattan at record speed, we went to 12 places in three days, making the $70 mistake of ordering a $20 glass of 7-Up and two glasses of what turnout out to be awful wine while enjoying Sister Act. And, speaking of age-appropriate, the play was one of two – the other being Lion King which Anna had seen.
My niece, Jenna, nixed by the idea of Avenue Q. It sounded perfect – cute puppets and all – turned out that the puppets were X-rated.
It was Miami with a side trip to Key West while visiting my sister with Max two years earlier, then Ben and Morgan three years after Anna where we luxuriated at the Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs. Expensive, but no airfare to pay for, and the convenience of traveling just 85 miles south to our destination.
College graduation gifts were trips to Europe – we were able to do two-for-one to Ireland with Max and Anna due to Covid. Ben and Morgan are next. We are considering Strasbourg, France, and Madrid. Our Capital One Visa quickly racks up miles since we use it to pay for everything.
My brain continues to come up with ideas, and so far we’ve reaped the benefits of continued time with them.
In closing, a heartwarming note. During the flight home from Disney World, I asked Anna her favorite part of the trip and she said, “When you and I went to dinner by ourselves and then went swimming while Max and Papa had room service because Max was sick. That was my favorite thing”. Sometimes the things we think of as insignificant often aren’t to a kid.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – ANN KOCHENBERGER
Ann and her husband, Gary are proud grandparents to six.