Dear Grandparenting: I have all the time in the world since my husband died last year, so I accepted my daughter’s invitation to spend a couple of weeks with them in Florida in mid-September.
Now I have this big confession to make: I have never really gripped into my grandchildren. They lived in Florida and we lived in Colorado. My husband did not care for all the noise and interruptions of young children. We saw them occasionally and briefly, so I am a still a rookie at this grandparent thing.
This may sound silly, but how do I relate? I can feel myself getting anxious. My daughter’s three children are all under 7. I am 78 years old. What do I know about any kid’s stuff? Margo Williams, Denver, Colorado
Dear Margo: OK, so you have some catching up to do. But here’s the good news. Assuming you haven’t burned any bridges, there’s nothing stopping you from becoming an overnight success in the grandparenting department.
It’s not exactly rocket science. Don’t overthink it. Of the more than 70 million grandparents in America, the majority can make do nicely by simply 1) showing up, and 2) engaging in their grandchildren’s activities.
Are you a person who tends to be looking ahead or looking back? If so, practice being in the present. Young grandchildren are spontaneous creatures. And it wouldn’t hurt to ask their parents what makes your grandchildren’s world go around. Being conversant about such matters will make you seem infinitely more interesting.
Are you semi-fit? If you can keep up with your grandchildren as they romp through their day — even in brief spurts — you will seem younger than your years and a valuable play partner.
The trick is to engage with your grandchildren on their level, not yours. It may not come naturally, but work at it. If you can become the life of your grandchildren’s little party, you’ve got it made.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Bella Lopez, of The Villages, Florida, says she juggles the three different roles she plays in her grandchildren’s lives.
“My grandkids have different wants and needs at different times,” said Bella, “so I take turns being a little bit parent, a little bit teacher and a little bit best friend.”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.