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Category Archives: Grandmothers

DEALING WITH FUSSY EATERS

Keeping up with children’s food preferences – or should I say prejudices – is a job in itself. It was hard enough when we were mothers and handled it every day.

But it is harder as a grandmother since we have to remember who will eat what, while we don’t see the kids as often to keep ourselves up-to-date. It is so easy to get mixed up.

Fussy eaters

Both my grandchildren have been fussy eaters at times. My daughter’s son is older and was fussy at first. There were only a limited number of foods he would tolerate as a small child, and I would check with my daughter before they came for the day.

My second grandson, my son’s son, started out eating anything and everything. We have odd tastes ourselves (we prefer cold meat and salads to a cooked meal), and he was fine with that.

“More prosciutto!” he would demand, long before he had much vocabulary at all. Or, “More Muenster cheese!” My daughter was envious that her son was not so ready for these strange foods, although we did always cater to his wishes as well.

Yet the situation changed after a couple of years. The older one slowly began to experiment with the food his parents ate, and, after a while, he welcomed – more or less – anything you put in front of him. No problem there. Good for him.

At the same time, the younger one grew fussier and fussier. He only liked sausages, eaten after peas and before pasta. Each in their own plate or bowl. No putting them all together into one.

It was not worth the fuss if we digressed from the allotted routine. We knew it was lazy, but it was always easier to take the accepted option, rather than argue on a brief visit.

Keeping up with the changing grandchildren

But the real problem for grandparents is keeping track. Both children like ice cream and jelly, so we have these available when they visit. The older one likes them both together in a bowl, with lots of sprinkles. The younger one does not want them to touch. Not even a little.

And I just forgot which was which. After a good meal, the younger grandchild asked if he could have both – half the normal portion of ice cream and half the normal jelly.

Fine. I put them both in a bowl, side by side. I called out to ask if he wanted sprinkles, but he was in the middle of a movie and didn’t reply. I made a guess.

Oh dear – I got it all wrong! They were not to be in the same bowl. He didn’t want sprinkles. I offered him a separate bowl of each, but all was spoiled. He concentrated on his movie in a slightly bad mood.

Changing Perspectives

When I was younger, this kind of behaviour would have made me very cross. I never made my children eat something they didn’t like, but such antics were of a different order. And it was dessert!

As we age, however, our perspective changes. Suddenly, the whole situation seemed funny. Instead of getting angry, my biggest problem was to keep from laughing.

You just wonder what it is about the human condition that someone could make such a fuss about such a small matter.

But with age we gain the wisdom to evaluate each situation from a distance. So, as a grandmother and someone who has lived long enough, I am glad I have learned to tell the important from the unimportant.

Other grandmothers have said much the same, as can be seen in my book about the joys and challenges of being a grandmother. It makes life much more relaxing.

Not everything about ageing is better, but some things definitely are.

 

This was first published on SixtyandMe.com (https://sixtyandme.com/the-lesson-i-learned-from-dealing-with-my-grandchildrens-fussy-eating-habits/)

 

 

 

 

 

Thinking about grandmothers: the view of older women

For those of us who have reached the age of ‘seniors’ or ‘pensioners or ‘crumblies’ (as my son used to say), we are of an age to think about grandmothers. Perhaps you are a grandmother or hoping to be one. Perhaps your friends are grandmothers. It is a whole new world to enjoy.

But does this make you think more about your own grandmother?

When I was writing my book about what it is like being a grandmother, many women I interviewed – including some friends – talked about how important one or other of their grandmothers had been to them.

They had spent a lot of time with their grandmother, learned many things from her, and some said they missed her constantly.

Surprising as it might sound, this was a bit of a new idea to me. Yes, I knew both my grandmothers until my late teens, but they were not an important part of my life nor a big influence.

They did not teach me much, did not pay me special attention, or take a real interest in what I was up to. They were just relatives who turned up from time to time, to whom I was required to be nice.

My Father’s Mother

One – my father’s mother – lived on the other side of the United States, and we saw her very infrequently. It’s hard to remember what a big deal it was to take an airplane in those days. And when someone spent the money and time to fly somewhere, they tended to stay for a while.

Although I never heard it said out loud, it was clear that this grandmother always over-stayed her welcome.

She would totally disrupt the household, as she was not reluctant to criticise my mother’s ways of keeping house and child-upbringing nor to verbalise many other issues on which she had an opinion. Her visits were therefore periods of great family tension, not conducive to a close relationship.

But she was, to her credit, interesting. She was what people might call ‘a bit of a character’. She felt she should have married ‘better’ than she did and would readily remind us of this fact.

My most memorable example was orthodontry, which I and my siblings benefitted from. “If they had that in my day…”, she once said, “none of you grandchildren would have been born!”

She was also highly politically involved. In the autumn of 1960, during the period just before the Presidential election, when visiting my uncle’s family in a different state, she had a heart attack and thought she was about to die (she didn’t).

She later said that, while contemplating her death, she was very pleased that she had already voted by absentee ballot. That put a whole new spin on the term.

My Mother’s Mother

My other grandmother – my mother’s mother – was very different. We saw her more frequently, as she lived much closer. She was dutifully invited for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other occasions and she – equally dutifully – took photographs of the family to be helpful.

This grandmother had few interests that I could see, aside from regular bridge games with friends and the usual concerns of a well-brought up suburban widow, such as charity and her church.

I know she was worried I would marry someone ‘unsuitable’, which covered almost all categories you might think of. I married only after she died, but I suspect she would not have approved.

This was a classic case of a grown-up daughter – my mother – becoming much more radical than the family from which she came, creating a cultural and political divide that was difficult to span.

It was evident that my parents had little time for this woman, so her visits were also a trial because everyone was trying so hard to get along.

Grandmothers Everywhere

The women I interviewed for my book also talked about their grandmothers, who came across as much more important to them. They came from very diverse backgrounds.

Some were rich and proud, some very poor; some were very warm and cuddly and others distant and cold. Many associated their grandmothers with food of one kind or another, whether the activities of preparation or the joys of eating.

Most felt that their grandmother had been a considerable influence on their lives and their attitudes to being a grandmother, whether positive or, in the occasional case, negative.

It made me realise how many different family stories there are.

A Relationship to Cherish

It must be wonderful to have a grandmother as a major influence in your life. Now that I am one, I realise that it is such a special relationship.

You can be very close but without the inevitable tensions that arise within the immediate nuclear family. You gain new perspectives and ways of doing things than you gain from your parents.

And you also gain a small foothold in history, if she talks about her own background and life as a child.

I have written a lot about the importance of this relationship to the grandmother, but yes, in the right family, it is also important to the grandchild.

This was first published under a different title by www.sixtyandme.com. See http://sixtyandme.com/does-being-a-grandma-change-how-you-look-at-your-own-grandmother/

The Many Joys of Teaching Grandchildren

As any grandmother will know, there are many sources of joy in the time spent with grandchildren. For me, a key one is teaching my grandsons something and seeing how they respond.

This is also a common theme in my book, Celebrating Grandmothers, where 27 women talk about the joys and challenges of being a grandmother. In their own words, they describe how they – like me – love teaching ­their grandkids all sorts of things.

Teaching Knowledge and Skills

We tend to think of teaching as passing on knowledge or a particular skill. Certainly, this can be a large element in many interactions with grandchildren. And it happens all the time, even when you are not noticing.

For example, you may be boiling an egg or baking a cake, and they suddenly take an interest and try to learn about cooking. Or, you may take out your knitting, and they see the result and want to have a go.

Such teaching may be accidental, as described, or it may be purposeful, undertaken specifically to pass on the skill. Either way, you can see them learning a lot, adding one step here and there to their journey to adulthood.

Teaching Values

But there is more to teaching than passing on facts or skills. Some women make a special effort to instill into their grandchildren the values and ethics by which they live.

In my book, some women gave particular importance to teaching values. Indeed, they felt that this was so important that it should be left to parents and was an inappropriate role for grandparents.

Others, however, felt strongly that they also had a part to play. One woman was keen to teach the importance of a belief in a Christian God. Another, in contrast, explained that she was teaching her grandchildren not to be ruled by a blind faith, but to question everything.

Although diametrically opposed in the specifics, both had the same goal of affecting their grandchildren’s values in life.

Teaching Children to Think

And finally, what I find truly exciting is teaching my grandchildren to think for themselves. This involves challenging their thoughts and helping them to see other points of view, so they can begin to work out their own position.

Such teaching flows easily from everyday discussions. Just the other day, for example, we were watching the television news and there was a long piece about migration into the US (although it could equally have been migration into Europe).

This started a discussion with one visiting grandson of why people want to migrate, why their situation is different from tourists, and how migration affects everyone involved. This entailed him asking loads of questions, as he began to see the complexity of the issues.

A few minutes later, there was another news item on people protesting climate change. Our grandson, although concerned about climate issues, was upset at the idea of protesters making people late for work.

We then moved to explore how people can best bring an issue to public attention. My husband asked the simple question, “What would you do?” Lengthy discussions ensued.

It is very satisfying to see a young person’s brain confronting complexity and trying to think things out.

The Joys of Teaching

I have never been a teacher by profession, but I am a teacher by inclination. I really love passing on what I have learned in the course of my life. And it is wonderful to see the impact on a young mind.

It is rewarding, first, if you see a great response in the person you teach. Some children light up with pleasure at learning a new activity, such as a sport. You show them how to manipulate a ball, and they are thrilled and do it again and again.

I am currently teaching one grandson to swim. He loves the water and enjoys working out how to move himself through it. If this is partly due to my own efforts, how can I not be thrilled?

It is also rewarding when something you taught is truly learned. Whether it is a new word or how to put together a toy, or something you believe in, keep a watch and listen – and see how it comes out later.

And finally, there is something rewarding about feeling part of a link down the chain of the generations. Your grandmother may have taught you to cook and now you are teaching your granddaughter.

You are part of the circle of life.

 

This post was originally published by Sixtyandme.com (see http://sixtyandme.com/the-many-joys-of-teaching-our-grandchildren/)

Why do you look after your grandchildren – because you have to or because you want to?

How much time do you spend looking after your grandchildren? If you don’t live nearby, then it is probably decided each time you visit. But if you do live within easy distance, you may have a regular routine.

From my study of grandmothers, I found that many women do have such a routine worked out with their daughter or daughter-in-law. It makes it easier for everyone to plan.

The Traditional Role of Grandmothers

Traditionally, in centuries past, playing an active part in their grandchildren’s lives is what grandmothers did. Of course. It was not even questioned.

The mother had her baby and went back to work in the fields as soon as she was ready. Then her mother (or mother-in-law) took over and absorbed the new baby into her own day-to-day activities.

It might be the first child or the fifth. If the grandmother was fit and healthy – and perhaps even if she wasn’t – that was her role in life.

Modern Grandmothers

It is more complicated for most of us these days.

For a start, it is more often the office that the mother goes back to. And, depending on the country or her company, there may be some form of maternity leave – to give her a chance to catch her figurative breath.

But it is also different for grandmothers. Some have busy careers themselves and little time to absorb new babies into their lives. Or, with the increasing tendency for young people to delay births, grandmothers may be very old and not so able to take in a young child on a regular basis.

Yet somehow, there are a lot of grandmothers who have agreed to take on the day-to-day care of their grandchildren, at least until they start nursery school. And some continue right on up, as the chief taker to – and collector from – nursery and then school itself.

A few do this on a daily basis, but perhaps more often, they agree to take on the role for one or two days a week.

Is that you? Why did you agree to such an arrangement?

Why We Look After Grandchildren

Some of us will have felt that we had no choice. Our daughter (or daughter-in-law) was at a key stage of her career and could not afford to pay for child care. We needed to help her out, at least temporarily, whatever the crimp it put into our day-to-day plans.

Others will have been thrilled at the prospect. What a delight to have a young baby or child around the house again! How enriching it is to involve yourself so thoroughly in a young life. They jump at the chance.

The key issue is – have you taken on this work because you felt you had to or because you wanted to? The resulting child care may be the same, but a woman’s feelings on the matter do count. Especially if she is not feeling very well and needs to push herself out of bed to go do ‘her’ day.

My Own Experience

In fact, from my own experience, I think it is more complicated than that simple dichotomy.

When my first grandson was born, I made it clear to my daughter that I did not want to be burdened with babysitting. She lived an hour away, so the travel was a bit of an issue, especially at night. But I also didn’t want to feel that she had a licence to impose on my time. I had other things to do.

My daughter was lovely about this and, only occasionally asked, gently and nicely, if I might be willing to help out for an hour or two. Which I duly did. All sorted amicably.

But three years later, when my son’s baby son was born, and I had argued much the same case, a crisis arose. My daughter-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer when the baby was eight months old. She needed surgery, chemo, the lot. Suddenly, all help was needed, fast.

I didn’t take on full-time child care but put in my good share. We bought all the necessary baby items for our house – cot (crib), highchair, and so forth – so that he could stay with us at any time on short notice.

The other grandmother came to stay nearby for six months to help out, and we paid for someone else as well. Somehow, we managed to cobble together enough help to see my daughter-in-law through. And, for the record, nine years later, she is fine.

But something important happened to me as a result of this experience. I discovered, to my own surprise, that I loved the close involvement that I had with this grandson. I even regretted that I had not had it with the first one.

What had been ‘don’t want to’ had become ‘have to’, but ‘have to’ became ‘want to’.

Things change. Life is full of surprises.

This was originally published by Sixty and Me (http://sixtyandme.com/why-do-you-look-after-your-grandchildren-because-you-have-to-or-because-you-want-to/)

Learning to be a grandmother

It is often suggested that babies should be born with a manual, because it is so hard for new parents to work out how best to look after them. We, mothers, know that we managed somehow or other. But now it begins again, as we are faced with being a grandmother.

So how do we learn to be grandmothers?

Instinctive Grandmothers

Of course, some people are ‘naturals’ whether as mothers or grandmothers. It wouldn’t occur to them to look for an advice book or to ask friends – they just know how to do it.

I watch these women in awe, as it certainly isn’t me. I didn’t have a clue when my first baby was born, although I was probably a little better by the time I had a second.

Nor, nearly 40 years later, did I have much immediate sense of how to be a grandmother, much less a good one. It certainly didn’t feel natural to me from the start, as it all felt so long ago.

Learning from our grandmothers

In my book, Celebrating Grandmothers, where nearly 30 women talk about how it feels to be a grandmother, many explore this issue.

A few describe their own grandmothers in some detail. Of course, those women of the past varied hugely – not only in their social backgrounds but in their behaviour. Some were memorably strict, while others were distinctly full of fun.

My interviewees shared that their experiences of these women had influenced them as grandmothers. Especially in those cases where they had spent a lot of time with their grandmother or she had a strong personality which impressed certain values or attitudes onto them.

This is not my case. I had little to do with my own grandmothers, as one lived too far away – the breadth of the USA was a serious hindrance in the 1950s – and the other had only limited interest in the role. Neither helped me much when my time came.

Learning from our mothers

Of course, your grandmother is not the only potential influence in this arena. Our mothers, too, were grandmothers to our children, as were our mothers-in-law.

Some of the women I interviewed felt that they had learned a lot from them, watching how they had played with their children or had taken an interest in teaching them.

But I, again, did not have much luck in this situation. By the time my children were born, my husband’s mother had died, and my own mother was, again, too far away as I had moved overseas. And, as she was a very dedicated career woman, I am not sure how involved she would have been had she lived nearby.

In any case, I had little in the way of role models.

Grandmother Experts

Nowadays, we all learn from ‘experts’ on all sorts of issues and being a grandmother is no exception. There are numerous books on “how to be a good granny” – as well as my favourite, “how to be a bad granny.”

There are also a growing number of websites devoted solely to the joys and challenges of being a grandmother or touching on the topic quite frequently. Including, of course, this one.

Many of us have doubtless learned a great deal from their advice – from how to avoid saying the wrong thing to how to cope with modern equipment. But it did not occur to me to look for such information online or in a book.

For example, when I was writing my book, which is definitely not a ‘how to’ book, one friend asked if it would explain how to fold down a modern pushchair (stroller). Perhaps we have all struggled with that one.

Make It Up as You Go Along

I think that most of us make it up as we go along. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

We probably make some of the same mistakes we made as mothers. But I am sure we make many fewer, because – although it may not seem like it when the first grandchild is born – we have been there before.

Like with a second child, the knowledge is just lurking there, waiting to come out. We cuddle and burp the baby without thinking about it. We encourage the toddler to toddle and, as they grow, we talk to the grandchildren about the wonders of life, from the sublime to the ridiculous. It comes naturally.

Some do not want to take a great part in this adventure, but most of us find it enormous fun – and incredibly rewarding.

As we used to say playing tag, “here we come, ready or not” and you are probably readier than you think.

Celebrating Grandmothers is available as a paperback and e-book on Amazon and other platforms

This was first published in a slightly different form by Sixty and Me (see http://sixtyandme.com/5-tips-for-learning-how-to-be-a-grandmother/)

A perfect gift for a grandma

Isn’t it strange how you can do something for one reason and find it has another purpose altogether!

I write books on subjects that happen to capture my interest, all based around interviews. I wrote one on young people with HIV and AIDS back when there was no cure (Wise Before their Time) and one on nurses and others providing end-of-life care (Life in a Hospice). Both were very well received.

Then I became a grandmother and found that many aspects of the grandmother role were fascinating. I decided to interview nearly thirty grandmothers from many walks of life and, indeed, nationalities, and put their responses together in a book. I titled this Celebrating Grandmothers: grandmothers talk about their lives.

I thought that grandmothers would love to read – and therefore buy – it. And quite a few did – and they wrote excellent reviews about it. Here are a few examples:

“I was expecting a sentimental take on grandmothers and grandchildren, but this is a collection of very candid and honest interviews. It is sometimes sad, but also joyous and funny.”

“This is a wonderful book for grandmothers but not exclusively for them. It shows how important family bonds and the bonds between generations can be and thankfully often are. It allows us to slow down a bit and take stock of how important nurturing relationships are for ourselves, our families, and the world at large.”

“Like all good books, this one is amusing, has pathos and astonishes with the wisdom shown by the contributors…it has really made me think.”

Following its publication, I put a lot of effort into publicising the book in places where older women might learn about it. Yet there was a surprisingly small response. I had to conclude that women are reluctant purchasers of a book they expect to be of interest only to themselves.

BUT in the course of such effort, I discovered that there were eager buyers of my book, namely young parents – both men and women – looking for a present for their mother and, sometimes mother-in-law.

And then I realised that, of course, it is extremely hard to find presents for older women. We have just about everything that we need – indeed, many of us would say we have too many things.

Yet there are birthdays and Christmas. What to do? A book about being a grandmother is original. It takes little space. The cover is pretty and she is unlikely to have it. Problem solved. Bingo.

I never wrote my book to solve people’s present buying dilemmas.  But it works.  And perhaps I get read that way.  I am not complaining.

 

For more information or to buy, go to my Amazon page

Choosing a book title

Mum with horn_sm.jpg

I have decided to write a few posts about preparing my book Celebrating Grandmothers. First, why the title?

The purpose of a book title

Book titles are supposed to catch the reader’s eye. But they are also supposed to give that reader the flavour of the book and a sense of what is inside. The underlying messages of this book are rich and complex – and hard to communicate in a catchy title.

The working title (what you call a book during the writing process, before you have thought of a good title) was Being a Grandmother, but that sounds exceedingly boring. Out come all the clichés – old, grey, dull! And very static.

So, what to do? Leslie Stahl, who subsequently published a not dissimilar but very successful book, called her book Becoming Grandma. That, rather cleverly, communicates a sense movement.

Communicating enthusiasm

I wanted something positive – but not too much so. Most grandmothers light up when you ask them about their grandchildren – they genuinely sparkle. How to communicate that fact without going over the top? I thought the word ‘celebrating’ would provide a sense of enthusiasm.

But not all grandmothers are happy with their lot. I also had to manage the complexity of family situations. Some grandmothers live far away from their families and ache with longing for their grandchildren. Some have difficulty keeping in touch because of unhappy family relationships. I didn’t want these to feel excluded from the book, as they are very much a part of it as well.

Ambiguity

Finally, I liked the ambiguity of the title. Is ‘celebrating’ a verb or an adjective? Is it the act of celebrating grandmothers or is it about grandmothers who are celebrating something? In fact, no one has ever asked.

Are you a grandmother? Read and find out.

 

For more information or to buy:  http://amzn.to/2ugEZ8t

What sort of grandmother are you?

People often have set ideas about what a grandmother should be like. However, grandmothers come in all sorts of shapes and sizes – as well as in attitudes to that role. This became very clear to me when I wrote a book based on interviews conducted with 27 very different grandmothers.

Living Close or at a Distance

A big issue is whether you live nearby or far away. This is generally not something you have a lot of choice about, unless you decide to move to be near your children and grandchildren. Some women love the fact that their family are all within easy distance and make a real effort to see them frequently.

And some families live together in three- or even four-generation households. This can bring a great bond between grandparents and grandchildren if family relationships are good. Not all are, and such living arrangements can also exacerbate family friction.

Yet others welcome the freedom that being geographically distant provides. They are happy to see their grandchildren from time to time, but want to lead their own lives.

Indeed, one woman recently told me cheerfully that the best way to be a grandmother was to have your daughter living abroad, as were her case.

Being Very Involved in Childcare or Not

Related to physical proximity, but not the same, is the matter of how closely involved you are in your grandchildren’s care. Some grandmothers – out of choice or necessity – undertake a lot of childcare themselves.

They may have an allotted day when they take a toddler out or meet children after school. Some do much more.

Indeed, there are some grandparents who are full-time babysitters (caregivers), taking on the role of parents because the parents themselves are incapacitated for one reason or another. This can be very hard work and is yet another story.

But there are plenty of grandmothers who do not want full responsibility for grandchildren at any time. They make it clear, often from the outset, that they are not built-in babysitters and want to continue with their own work or other activities. They may help on occasion, but want to do so on their own terms.

Grandmother Roles

Another key difference between grandmothers lies in what they do with their grandchildren – and at what point in their lives. Some love to cuddle and play with small babies, but become less keen as children grow older. Some are the reverse and look forward to when they can have proper conversations with the next generation.

There is so much to be discussed, but I would just note one key role here – namely, teaching grandchildren. This may be about the little things that the parents do not have time for, such as how to knit or to cook or to know the names of plants in their garden.

Or it may be teaching deeper matters, perhaps old-fashioned values, religious beliefs or just a love of learning. Many people say that they gained such values from their own grandparents. And it can be a great pleasure to see your own views take root in the next generation.

The Impact of Grandchildren on You

I talk to a lot of grandmothers and often ask them about the relationships they have with their grandchildren. Some tell me their names and ages, but do not impart a great sense of joy. Others light up at the very mention of them. One woman who was interviewed for my book often had her grandchildren to stay and noted that when they were there “the house is smiling.”

This post was originally published by SixtyandMe (Sixtyandme.com/what-sort-of-grandmother-are-you-does-it-matter/) and should not be re-blogged

For more information or to buy, go to my Amazon page

 

Grandfathers are not what they used to be…nor are fathers!

Have you noticed that something very wonderful is happening to men? Perhaps not all men in every circumstance, but certainly with respect to children in their family. They are becoming so very much more involved. It is a joy to behold.

Young Fathers and Their Children

In our day, it was the rare father who would carry a baby around, do the school run or otherwise take a real part in day-to-day childcare. Of course, they would help out now and then by taking the children to another kid’s birthday party or reading a bedtime story. But they were not truly involved in the everyday business of childcare.

They argued that they were too busy or could not get time off work. Or, by the very old-fashioned, that most activities involving children were “women’s work.”

Nowadays, in contrast, you commonly see men on the street with a baby sling or pushing a stroller (‘pushchair’ in England) or, indeed, at the school gates. Fathers come home from work to get the children to bed. You see them at school plays. It is a very different scene.

I haven’t seen any data on the subject, so I can only speak anecdotally, but all my friends comment on it. Whether it is their son or their son-in-law, grandmothers notice how much the man plays his part. Mothers may not even be so aware of the enormous change, as they only see what is happening now – not what used to happen in our day.

Is this development because mothers are pressing harder for more paternal involvement and fathers can find fewer excuses with real bite? Or have fathers discovered that it is actually a lot of fun to engage with their children? Or perhaps a bit of both? I suspect also that the more fathers are seen to be actively involved, the more normal it becomes and the easier it is for the pattern to continue.

Grandfathers and Their Grandchildren

The same kind of thing also seems to be happening to grandfathers. As discussed in my book, Celebrating Grandmothers, they want to play on the floor with their grandchildren. They want to tell them stories and in all kinds of ways want to be much more involved in their lives. Yes, there were always some who were highly active in any case, but the tradition was that it was the grandmother – along with the mother – who did the heavy lifting.

Some are the children’s favourite. We grandmothers have to grin and bear it. When I collect my young grandson for a visit, his first question, almost invariably, is “Will Grand-Dad be at home when we get there?”

Just as some grandmothers are providing a lot of day-to-day childcare for their grandchildren, so too are grandfathers. I have a friend who takes his grandson to school every day, collects him in the afternoon and makes his dinner, as the parents tend to work long hours. And he doesn’t even live near by. It is hard work day after day, but the result is a very close relationship.

A New Generation of Modern Grandfathers

Are these grandfathers making up for lost time? Some may feel they did not give their children enough attention when they were young and this is a way of making amends. Some simply have much more time now – and the lack of driving ambition – to put their energies to these tasks. And some, like grandmothers, have found that they get a great deal of fulfilment from their role. Perhaps they like the opportunity to give an outing to their softer side.

Of course, many grandfathers have been lost along the way. Some divorced the mother of the grandchildren a long time ago and had less and less to do with the family from an early stage. Others divorced more recently, but still choose to keep out of the way. Some grandmothers engage in considerable efforts to bring the stray grandfather back into the fold. My own view is that they will find it very worthwhile.

A Gift for the Next Generation

Whatever the reasons for these developments, we should celebrate them. It suggests greater respect is being given to the important task of bringing up the next generation. And, while families undoubtedly differ hugely in these respects, the children are surely benefitting from the real involvement of more people in their lives.

This was initially published with a slightly different title by sixtyandme (http://sixtyandme.com/grandfathers-aint-what-they-used-to-be-and-thats-a-good-thing/ and should not be re-blogged

 

For more information or to buy, go to my Amazon page

Why Do Our Grandchildren Grow Up So Quickly?

We all know that our sense of time changes as we grow older – with everything speeding up at an alarming rate. One of the most notable markers of this is the age of our children – and even more so – our grandchildren.

When We Were Young

I don’t know about you, but when I was a child, time seemed to stretch on forever. If it was Christmas, summer was ages and ages away. You looked forward to being the next age up – to be seven when you were six, and so forth – but didn’t it take a long time to come!

It seemed the natural order of things that time passed slowly and one never thought to question it.

Children and Time

By the time you are in your 30s and 40s, time speeds up a bit, but not that much. Having children in the house keeps you so busy, you don’t think about time as such. Perhaps their birthday parties seem to come around more quickly than yours ever did, or you notice their friends getting taller rather quickly. But somehow there was nothing alarming about the speed of things.

Grandchildren Change So Quickly

But when it comes to grandchildren, everything speeds up so fast you begin to wonder if you have time to enjoy them. They seem to change from toddlers to teenagers in the blink of an eye.

This is particularly the case, I suspect, when you don’t see the grandchildren all that often. We all heard “My, how you’ve grown!” when we were children and thought it was a silly remark. Now, we all probably repeat it ourselves. And buying appropriate presents can be a minefield. It moves amazingly quickly from dolls to make-up, from toy trains to football gear, and for all them to small screens of every kind.

And then they learn so fast. One minute they are working out how to read and the next they are learning French or Mandarin. And they know things you don’t know. This came home to me recently when my seven-year-old grandson taught my husband how to use his iPad.

Children as Markers of Time

I have always used the age of my children as markers for particular times – we moved house when my daughter was seven, my good friend died when my son was ten. These were easier ways of remembering dates than the actual year, as the years tend to merge into one another with surprising ease.

In contrast, I find it hard to use my grandchildren’s ages as markers of time as they move so fast from one age to another.

Other People’s Surprise

And your friends are constantly surprised about ages. Is your son really 35 – it feels like only yesterday that we took him to university! Is that baby grand-daughter six years old already? Different friends are taken aback by different information, but what they have in common is surprise at the passage of time. I tend to say “Yes, they age, but we don’t. We just stay the same.”

And this is, perhaps, hardest of all – realising that we are aging, too. I still remember my own father saying he didn’t mind so much getting old, but he hated having middle-aged children. He always said I was 31, whatever age I actually was. I really understand now how he felt.

Originally published on Sixtyandme (see http://sixtyandme.com/why-do-our-grandchildren-grow-up-so-quickly/) and should not be re-blogged