Visits with grandchildren is one of the treasured things for grandparents and grandchildren alike. With the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing, the game has changed towards more “virtual” interactions. We’re hoping that soon the situation will improve and the old rules will apply again. Speaking of (grandparent) rules, our guest blogger this month (and next) is Linda Stroud, a grandmother of 12 and retired Professor, Child Development, Pasadena City College in Pasadena, California.
Here, then, are Grandmimi’s Rules….
I am the grandmother I never thought I would be. I have six children, 12 grandchildren and another due in October, 2020. With all these delightful adult children, their spouses and the grandchildren, none live near me. They do, however, travel from Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Colorado and Northern California to visit in Southern California, and we travel to see them. Rather than Grandma, I am known to all as Grandmimi!
Oh, and by the way, in case you did not know this - the best part of being a grandparent is not the grandchildren. I learned this right away, and I will share this fact with you. The best part is watching your own children become parents and then parent their children. I could watch them all day, but rarely do I get the opportunity to enjoy these interactions. Because, when my children and grandchildren are with me, my adult children think I want to do everything with their children, like feed, diaper, bathe and the list go on and on. I love them, but I really do not want to do the tasks of a parent. I would rather do all the fun stuff.
Therefore, I created new traditions. Oh, and I have rules, too!
Let’s start with the rules. "Necessity is the mother of invention" is a proverb. It means, roughly, that the primary driving force for most new inventions is a need. As a grandmother, I definitely had a need. My need is to create meaningful and memorable experiences for my grandchildren and fun experiences for me! The following are my rules:
Rules at Grandmimi’s House:
The answer is always YES
No naps allowed
Always eat outside
Eat ice cream sandwiches for breakfast
You must go to the toy store at least once during your visit.
Dinner is served in the hot tub.
Endless hugs and chocolate kisses are provided
Now, let me explain the rules.
If the answer is always yes there is no need for discussion, compromise, or problems to solve. It is easy, and everyone is happy. The interesting fact is the children are very thoughtful about their requests and love it when I remind them with a question: “Did you forget the rule?” They love this rule. Again, this makes life easier for me. Now, of course, when their parents are around, the parents are in charge, as it should be. I often hear a child’s voice asking, “ Mommy and Daddy, when are you leaving?” Or “Can I stay at Grandmimi’s?”
No naps, because when they are with me, I need them to go to bed without a hassle at night. My adult children have long involved rituals at bedtime for their children. Honestly, at the end of the day with my grandchildren, I am running on empty and need them to just go to sleep. Grandchildren between the ages of two through five love this rule and often try to pretend they are sleeping to get a reaction out of me. It often turns into a little game like hide and seek, open eyes/closed eyes. Then I remind them of the rule - No Naps - and they giggle.
Always eat outside is a must and keeps my house relatively clean. It is so much easier to clean up an outdoor mess, especially with the help of our dog. This is another rule for my own survival. The grandchildren love this rule. They think it is a real treat, especially when it is raining. They don’t want to eat inside.
Eat ice cream sandwiches for breakfast. Honestly, the idea of this is more exciting than actually eating the ice cream sandwich. They usually want the traditional breakfast, of course, outside.
You must go to the toy store, because it takes time. And, it is a nice walk from our house and a new toy keeps the grandchildren busy. Going to the toy store is a must, and the grandchildren can’t wait for their walk to the toy store. Since they are traveling, they need to purchase something that will fit in their backpacks, so this limits the selection to small toys, books, crayons, etc.
Dinner in the hot tub is also a rule. Our hot tub is like a large warm bathtub. They spend hours playing in the water, plus they are clean and tired when they finally get out. Having dinner in the hot tub again is easy for me and very different and special for them.
Endless hugs and chocolate kisses are always provided. When the grandchildren arrive at my house I am always standing at the front door. I put my hands out and ask, “Guess which hand holds a chocolate kiss for you!” They always choose the correct hand. Chocolate kisses are a motivation, too. If I need them to get dressed, get in the car, etc. they move faster when they know we can play the chocolate kiss game.
Linda Stroud is wife, mother, grandmother, sister, friend and retired Professor, Child Development, Pasadena City College.