Exactly how grandmother made me feel!

In honor of Grandparents Day, I made a list of the things that made my grandmother wonderful, loving, unforgettable, fun, thoughtful, fantastic and fully awesome. Obviously not a comprehensive list, but it’s a start:
1. Never forgot my birthday
2. Always sent me something on my brother’s birthday, even if it was flowered underwear
3. Let me win every game of Crazy 8s we ever played, and I didn’t suspect a thing.
4. Paid attention to every word I said, and remembered it later on
5. Told me stories about her childhood, back in the day.
6. Cut out and sent crossword puzzles to me for the entire 2 years I lived in South America
7. Shared her opinions and insights freely, with her unique perspective
8. Went back to college to finally earn her degree around age 50
9. Found friends for us in her neighborhood when we visited
10. Was always there for me.Happy Grandparents Day!

Birthday Wishes

May 29, 2012

“So, what do you like most when grandma comes to visit?” “Presents,” my four-year old replied quietly. “And what do you like most about grampy?” “Tickles,” she giggled. Of course, presents are on her little mind. It’s her birthday tomorrow, and my parents are flying in to celebrate it with her.

Grandparents make birthdays special. My husband and I barely remember each others’ birthdays, let alone buy gifts for each other. We struggle through the kids’ birthdays, which are unfortunately just two weeks apart during the last month of school. Neither of us are great at hosting kids’ parties, but both our girls are relentless in wanting home parties. We scrambled this year, setting up scavenger hunts, having a movie, making our own pinata (the birthday girl loved it. We were embarrassed), and leading, yet another, birthday parade down our street. Yes, it all worked out, but we were exhausted.

Maybe because they are not planning and hosting the party, but their grandparents are better at really celebrating a birthday. GIfts were discussed, purchased and wrapped in advance. And a friend of the grandparents sent an electronic card with singing animals. My daughter also received a silly card with a ballerina kitty (Best Card Ever) and a frivolous little tank top that screamed fun.

So tomorrow, we will have a special dinner out, and open some gifts. I can’t help get into the spirit of things, so I am going to spray whipped cream on her AM pancakes. I feel a little sorry for her, since she wanted to go to a hot dog stand for her birthday dinner. We nixed that but promised her dessert. It should be great.

And yes, I made that tie
It’s 6.30AM and I am sipping coffee, listening to birds chatter, and clicking on fun links about summer sandals and sinkholes (the latter fascinate me.) Yes, I can hear my kids rustling upstairs. But this morning, I don’t need to sprint upstairs to see how they’re doing. Grandma and Grandpa came to visit from New York to see my girls’ dramatic performance of 101 Dalmatians, and I couldn’t be happier.

A visit from grandparents is the best. Built-in daycare, giggles galore, complete spoiling. My kids are so thrilled to see them. My 4 year old even offered her spare duckie to them. Of course, they sweeten the pot by toting some gifts along that the girls anticipate. But I think it is their rapt attention to each child that is the main appeal. And Grandma isn’t also trying to clean the house, prepare dinner, sort mail or write a blog, so rarely loses her temper.

I have always known instinctively that my kids should spend time and build a strong relationship with their grandparents. In the first 2 years of my oldest daughter’s life, we made 14 trips by plane and car to visit grandparents, and great-grandparents, to begin this relationship. We have not yet experienced a moment when my children were shy or reticent with either set of grandparents. Even as babies, they both seemed comfortable in their arms. (Although, as my cousin recently reminded me, my second child was so big at 6 months that her great-grandmother could barely hold her).

My instinct may be more than just a notion. There is more and more research about the beneficial role grandparents play in a child’s life. Relationships with people from different generations appear to have positive effects on kids, including building empathy and self-esteem. And it makes sense that an extra person in a child’s life willing to give ‘unconditional love’ is a very good thing.

But I think I am the one enjoying their visit the most. After coffee, I’ll take a hike with a friend, do some work, and even step out this evening for a small gathering. All knowing that my kids are in good hands, happy as clams, and being loved.

Behaving Badly

April 9, 2012

Ugh. Everything went smoothly for most of our trip to visit our grandparents over spring break. There was a minor hiccup when I realized that my 4-yr old wasn’t just trying to get attention by whining about pain in her foot. It turns out I had mistakenly dressed her in a shoe two sizes too small for her that she had bravely worn through two major airports. A quick trip to the shoe store fixed that problem.

However, on the drive back from the resort we went to with the grandparents, the little angels began to bicker in the back of the car. The 4-yr old kept humming, and big sister asked her to stop. She hummed more, a little softer. On one hand, it brought back a lot of memories of traveling with my brother. We fought a lot, and he taught me the concept of ‘international air space’, essentially meaning that while back seat was divided, he could still hit or pinch me. On the other hand, this was not the experience I was hoping to share with the grandparents.

It is completely unrealistic to think your kids will always be perfectly behaved around grandparents. But you can hope. And try. I brought out every snack I had. I made a major concession and let them play Angry Birds on my mom’s iPad. Then, of course, they fought about who had spent more time flinging birds around. Desperate, I sunk lower. Cupcakes, donuts and frosted cookies were promised. The humming continued.

At last, we made it home. The rascals cooled down and went to bed. ‘They were clearly tired,’ I said, trying to explain their behavior. And the grandparents, being very good grandparents indeed, chose not to give me any parenting advice, but simply agreed.

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