How many children do you have? Two; my son Treg and daughter Tracy.
How many grandchildren? What are their ages? Five. Treg’s girls, ages 14 and 11, and Tracy’s son 8 and almost 5 year old boy/girl twins.
Any great grandchildren? No way, not any time soon!
What do your grandchildren call you? Gramcracker or Grandma most of the time; Grams and Gramps when referring to both of us.
Other than the initial elation, what was your first concern upon hearing you would be a grandmother? No negative concerns......just that she would be several states away. But as soon as she was born, my son and daughter-in-law decided to quit their jobs, pack a moving truck and leave our home town of Kalamazoo, Michigan to move near us here in Georgia. They wanted her to be part of our daily lives, and for us to be part of hers.... thus our grandparenting journey began. She was 2 months old when they pulled into our cul-de-sac and the neighbors helped us unload. They lived with us a short while until they found jobs and a home of their own a few minutes away!
How often do you get to see your grandchildren? When the girls were 3 and 6, my son was transferred from here to California. No time to be sad as our first grandson was born two weeks before they left! We pretty much see the girls every couple months. We rent a beach house near them and store a car, bikes and tubs of clothes which makes it easier. The girls spend two weeks at G & G’s house every summer and the whole CA gang joins us every other Christmas! My daughter lives near us and she has boy/girl twins in addition to her big guy! I retired from teaching upon his phone call at age 2 1/2 announcing “Mama has two babies in her belly” and I’ve been along for the ride ever since! We see these three every weekend and holidays and school events and sick days etc. We have them for fun sleepovers, but now starting one at a time......easier on us and I love the 1-1 time with each child!
What is the best thing about being a grandma? Instant playmates and forever friends! They keep me young and fun; always ready to try new things. My Sunshine girl taught me to text and we learned stand up paddleboarding together! My Flower, granddaughter #2, encourages me with edgier fashion ideas, joins me in tennis and has taught me to go crabbing and climb the jetty rocks in their ocean backyard! As soon as he was old enough, I introduced my shining Star (grandson # 1) to ice skating and roller skating! The Littles keep me in stitches with their ongoing comedy act. We have fun jumping at the bouncy places and doing yoga together. All five are teaching me fun wii games!!!
What is the most challenging part of being a grandma? Keeping it “fair” when there’s more than one around! Have to be creative and use slight of hand sometimes! I was in elementary education....so still resort to “choose a number, you can be first next time or the old standby......life’s not always fair!”
Describe a recent time that one (or more) of your grandchildren made you laugh out loud. They are all blessed with a sense of humor... plus perfect timing and delivery! One incident that comes to mind: I’ve never been one to cuss, but once my son was driving a bit too zippily for me and I couldn’t help but exclaim “S***! D***! God! From the backseat, my granddaughter says “that’s not how it goes, Grandma.....you’re supposed to say God D*** It and Oh S***!” Needless to say my son slowed down as we laughed our heads off!
What is your favorite thing to do with grandchildren who visit your house? Silly tea parties, dress-up, playing school on the chalk/white boards in the garage with the younger ones. The visit usually includes sleeping over......so making cookies and watching a movie is part of our routine! We rent a place for a month or so every fall near my son in Ventura......so it’s a real treat for the girls to stay over with us in the beach cottage a few steps from the sand and waves! They too love making cookies and staying up late with a good movie or game!
What is your favorite thing to do when visiting grandchildren at their house? See their rooms! They always have little treasures to share or new toys and/or clothes to show off! It’s awesome to see their interests and personalities reflected in their bedrooms....no matter what age! Since the girls live on the beach.....we make the most of playtime there....our home away from home! The younger kids have thick woods in their backyard.......so we get to spot deer, enjoy autumn leaves and watch from the deck as they play on, in and around everything that is NOT a toy or playscape! “Yikes” I say, “relax” my daughter says!
How do you maintain the bond between yourself and your grandchildren between visits? I write the big girls letters, send cards, pictures and little gifts in the mail. We talk on the phone and now they have their own cells and email so we keep in contact pretty much every day. Lately they’ve been texting me on the way to and from school. :) I see the younger kids every weekend; and I talk with each one during the week by phone....telling them something the cat has done or about a new ice cream we’ve tried etc. I make cutesy, crafty stuff for all of them and they know I put myself into it. Homemade cards, little poems, envelopes filled with bunches of crunchy fall leaves, matching tees with their names stitched on. We have committed to taking each grandchild on a vacation of their choice around age 12; so there’s lots of photos and discussions of possible destinations. We’ve been dogsledding in Alaska already with our oldest, and planning NYC for spring break with our 11 year old. (she was born 9/12/01......so this is a trip with special meaning for us in addition to a great city adventure!) The younger kids seem to be stuck on the Great Wall of China right now.....we’ll see!!!
What do you most want to pass along to your grandchildren? Finding delight and wonder in life. And that they will never regret being kind and sharing happiness with others.
What is one word you hope your grandkids think of when they think of you? Fun-loving. The phrase I use all the time is “I love it!” and they all say it now.
What is one thing you wish you had learned earlier as a grandparent? This is a hard one.....never thought of this. I know I’m a good Grandma because I learned from my own grandmother. She always gave me undivided time and attention and made me feel special....so I’ve just done the same. And I tell my eldest granddaughter she is helping me learn grandparenting as we both grow along!
What one bit of advice would you give a new grandma? Be a calm, loving and engaged presence in the child’s life, however you can. Distance doesn’t matter....as you and I have discovered, Lisa. And follow your heart always! I think we all used our heads pretty much raising our own kids.....but now using your heart to guide you is the best thing in the world for grandkid and grandparent!
Do you have a website or blog? My blog is at http://www.gramcrackercrumbs.com/ The kids call me Gramcracker and Crumbs represents the bits and pieces of our lives I like to write about. I also have a Facebook page of the same name....but my more in-depth blog is a work in progress as I learn how to reach audiences, attach buttons, link etc. Any tips from your readers is appreciated! I am also on Pinterest as http://pinterest.com/pollyannajoan/gramcracker-crumbs/.
This is an archived version of Joan's Grilled Grandma feature. See her original grilling—including reader comments—by clicking HERE.