Grandchildren mature; relationships change (But, Granni, I’ll see you before you leave)

Special time with grandson: reading a book that belonged to his dad, my son.

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Home from a cross-country trip where I spent much of my 12-day visit sitting on a hardwood floor, I feel every minute of my age and every muscle in my body. But it was glorious and I can’t wait to do it again. My almost-4-year-old grandson and I built a drive-up restaurant, toy store, firehouse and children’s hospital with Duplos (big Legos;) connected his wooden railroad tracks and led Thomas and his friends on various adventures; put puzzles together; played match games (which he always won;) and maneuvered his fleet of cars, trucks and planes throughout the room. Those were the floor activities. We read books, took walks and stopped by the ice cream shop, where he finished my cup of vanilla/peanut butter after eating his cone of chocolate with chocolate sprinkles.

Not for a second do I take for granted that he is still young enough to WANT to play with me, to be with me. That will end too soon. I cherish these years.

That’s how it used to be with my granddaughter, now 14, and other grandson, who is 12. I adore all three and am confident that my bonds with them will forever be strong, forged by mutual love. Along with their own developing interests, though, age brings sensitivities about hanging with Granni.

Never could I have imagined that I wouldn’t live near my sons and their families. As life turned out for all of us, we’re spread across the US—one grandchild in California, two in Pennsylvania, me in Florida. I’ve been fortunate to be able to make frequent trips, which has been quality time, indeed. I’m missing a lot (birthdays are hardest) … but the months apart make our precious time together more special. Of course technology—phone, Skype and now Facebook with the oldest—keeps us constantly in touch.

Sure, I would rather live nearby. I honestly believe, however, that they know me as well and I am as emotionally close to them as if I do.

So maybe I shouldn’t have been as shocked as I was at my first indication that they don’t exist for my visits. “I have a sleepover at a friend’s house tonight,” my then-10-year-old granddaughter told me upon my arrival from the airport, “I’ll see you before you leave.” “What? But I’m here!” I thought, as I smiled and wished her a good time, feeling sad that she was growing up and I was losing my shadow.

My first grandchild, and only girl, she barely let me out of her sight on our visits for years—playing and laughing, for sure, but also putting on my shoes and makeup and making all those wonderful memories. Her third birthday party was the weekend after 9/11 and I had scheduled a flight for 9/12. No planes flew for a few days, and I was on one of the first headed to BWI so I could be there for her celebration. I had to see her and her brother, especially then.

With him, it happened first at the school bus stop a couple of years ago. “Don’t kiss me when the bus comes,” he asked, self-consciousness overtaking his normal affection. “OK,” I promised, yielding to his peer-pressure while mourning the end of that sweet tradition. A sensitive boy, he’s the grandchild who often accompanied me on visits to my dying mother in the nursing home. It’s been years since he and I sat on the floor and played with cars, trains and action figures, but he still seems to like having me around when he plays video games. I’m clueless but happy to be welcome.

As my grandchildren mature, our relationships evolve. I accept that I compete with her cell phone and his TV for attention, secure in our unwavering affection. For now, the little one still takes my hand and says, “Play with me.” And my heart melts.

Reflections of the current phases

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Feb 2013 with Jonas at Ocean Beach

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About Lorrie DeFrank

Retired and relishing the time to write about anything concerning people 65 and older, which is everything.
This entry was posted in 65 plus and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Grandchildren mature; relationships change (But, Granni, I’ll see you before you leave)

  1. Mary S says:

    God, Lorrie, I think this could be the “stuff” of a movie. The grandparent perspective—sooo glad you are putting down in words these phases, as all three kids will eventually read your writings. In the circle of life, certainly they too will be one day in the shoes you wear today. Yes, they will treasure you more than you may ever know. The blessing here IS you are young enough, they are old enough, to commit to memory these sacred moments. It will impact the future as they carry in the deepest recesses of their being, “time w/gramma”—-the repercussions carry on, down the ages. Heritage….truly, simply, clearly….what we are here for.

  2. Jenny Formon says:

    Lorrie, I still have such clear and fantastic memories spending time with Maugum and Pappap and Maugum Lu in Chambersburg as a kid. I’m so glad that my kids will have those same experiences with mom and dad to look back on. I had to chuckle though…yes, the activities while visiting are certainly different as they get older! My folks will be down this weekend to visit…Mason will DRIVE them around! Yikes! 🙂

    • So sweet of you to comment, Jenny. And I have clear memories of YOU (and Bobby) through all those stages. Mason is driving? No! See, you validated my blog! I’m loving your mother’s photos.

  3. Barb says:

    Loved this as I certainly can relate, Lorrie, through my granddaughters. Stevie is 7 and the twins, Kelsie and Kiera, are 5. They live in NJ and I see them about every 6 weeks or so. It will probably be April when I see them again – here in Chambersburg. The twins will be staying with me for several days while Stevie goes with her Mommies to California. But even at these young ages, I find they are already getting busy with other things and I sort of feel taken for granted when I visit. However, this past Christmas was the best ever as for four days we played the 6 games I brought for Christmas over and over. On my last visit in February, we didn’t play one of the games, but that was because we were so busy with outside activities. My daughter’s partner owns and operates a Dance Studio and Stevie was in their recent play and so we went both nights and to the after play party. Everyone was tired each day so we just hung out and rested.
    Anyway, I sure do wish I lived right there in NJ with them, but at least it is only a 3 hour drive from my doorstep to theirs.
    Love your writing and look forward to your next one!

    • Love hearing about your granddaughters, Barb. I know your time with them is special because they don’t live around the corner. But yeah, wouldn’t it be nice if they did! Board games are still fun with my oldest two grandkids; I should have mentioned that. Our relationships are special at all stages. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

  4. Fay King says:

    Lorrie, this is wonderful and perfectly reflects my feelings and experience as my other five grandchildren have grown up. I treasure every moment playing with Jonas. Too soon, he’ll be busy with his friends and other interests. A couple of times a year I’ll stay in Williamsburg the with three grandsons when Scott and Christy are on vacations. Whenever my oldest grandson, Alex, sits and talks with me for 30 minutes or so, I’m thrilled. “Critter” used to chat after school or want to help me in the kitchen, but now he’s more into playing with friends or spending time on the computer. Zachary has always been a computer fanatic and rarely talks or spends time downstairs. One of my fondest memories in recent years was a drive back to Richmond with the “Williamsburg” grandsons. We had been to Zachary’s soccer game, had lunch at Wendy’s, then I was taking them to Christy’s parents. Alex had finished reading his book, Zachary and Critter’s DS games were out of power, so they were at a loss as to how to pass the hour-long drive. I retrieved a small photo album from my purse and passed it into the back seat. It contained pictures from time with all the grandchildren over the past five years. It was wonderful to hear the boys start to reminisce about those times. We talked for the whole drive and I’ll never forget that day. Amazing how the simplest moments can mean the most. Now, I’m looking forward to my time on that hard wooden floor, building Legos, making seaweed soup on the beach, reading, going to the Lighthouse for ice cream and just savoring each day with Jonas. We’ll spend our weekends with Kim’s family so I can see the granddaughters. They still enjoy time with us. Randy and I like to take them out to lunch and then shopping. It gives us one-on-one time with them. Thank you for this wonderful blog. I really enjoy reading it. You definitely have a way with words.
    Love,
    Fay

    • You have quite a way with words yourself, Fay! I love your story about the hour-long drive with your grandsons. It’s so much fun to listen to kids reminisce … to learn what they remember and what is special to them. We certainly are blessed to share our precious grandson Jonas. He and I talked about your upcoming visit and he is excited. I know you will cherish every second of it.

  5. Janis Mylod says:

    Lorrie, the kids are gorgeous and your appreciation of them is very beautiful! I know that you will continue to cherish every moment and see the every chance you get. The way you told your story and the smile on your face when you talk about them shows all the beauty in your heart.

  6. Phyl White says:

    Lorrie, I LOVE your latest blog story and especially the pictures! Tabitha’s 13th birthday is February 24th and as I am getting ready to go to Charlotte to celebrate with her, I have been thinking of all the wonderful things we have done together since the day she was born. We are very blessed to be able to enjoy so many activities (no matter what they are) with each of our grandchildren. Wonderful memories for them and for us. Keep the stories coming. Hugs, Phyl

  7. Thanks so much, Phyl. Tabitha is 13? How can that be already? For sure, you and Bill will have no regrets about missing time with your grandkids. You are Supergrands! In fact, you might want to start a blog about your grandparents’ camp!

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