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Posted on February 16, 2023 by Christine Crosby in Ann Kochenberger, grandkids, grandparents, teens, travel

From Our Reader: Ann Kochenberger on Teen Grandkids

Teen grandkids – when friends become the priority


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.

Morgan having a fancy drink

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.”

Morgan and Ben







Anna testing chocolate cake at New York Deli News

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.



Surprising Max for his 19th birthday in Manhattan

“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.

Nina at the Denver Zoo

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.

Paige, age seven, at the Denver Aquarium



Ann and her husband, Gary are proud grandparents to six.

Gary (aka Papa) and Ann (aka Grammy) in Ireland

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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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