What is a Grilled Grandma? A Grilled Grandma is a grandma whom I've grilled with some grandma-related questions, and she's graciously responded with answers and photos. Here is Grilled Grandma Risa:
How many children do you have? Three—all grown up and married.
How many grandchildren? Two.
What are their ages? As of right now, my grandson Fenton is almost 11 months old (born on January 8, like Elvis), and my granddaughter Madeleine is almost 5 1/2.
Any great grandchildren? No.
What do your grandchildren call you? Grannie B (like "bee," because I have a guest room with a bee theme and I have way too many bee-related things in there). My husband's name starts with a B, so we're now the GBs.
Other than the initial elation, what was your first concern upon hearing you would be a grandmother? That I would be too far away to see her very often. Madeleine was born in Providence, RI and I live in Northern California.
How often do you get to see your grandchildren? I manage to get back east about three or four times a year. (My daughter and her family have since lived in PA and NY.) It's much easier to get to Southern California where my grandson is, so I'll probably see him more often. That's been the case over the last 11 months anyway!
What is the best thing about being a grandma? It turns out I am the baby whisperer. I have lulled them both to sleep on a number of occasions just by talking softly to them and singing. (De Doo Doo Doo De Da Da Da by the Police works like a charm!) I love to have a sleeping baby on my shoulder.
What is the most challenging part of being a grandma? Being so far away from both of them is one part. Realizing that I am not the expert this time around is another one: my kids make different choices for their kids, and I have to respect that.
Describe a recent time that one (or more) of your grandchildren made you laugh out loud. Fenton has a wonderful giggle. Hearing him giggle makes me laugh, and the more I laugh, the more he giggles. We egg each other on. Madeleine made me laugh with her explanation of what sharing means to her: basically, what's mine should also be hers, and what's hers is...just hers . It makes perfect sense to a five year-old!
What is your favorite thing to do with grandchildren who visit your house? Read them stories and make up games.
What is your favorite thing to do when visiting grandchildren at their house? Snuggling up to read bedtime stories.
How do you maintain the bond between yourself and your grandchildren between visits? We do Google Hangouts with the baby, and the same with the 5 1/2 year old. I also send her text messages (on her mother's phone) that are full of little images—like those old rebus picture stories. She loves to write back, using almost every picture available. Now we have the ability to do FaceTime on our iPhones, so I can move around the house and show her the things she likes to see here (the doll house, the fuzzy bees, and anything else she remembers from her last visit).
What do you most want to pass along to your grandchildren? A love of stories and story telling and make-believe. Also, a good sense of humor!
What is one word you hope your grandkids think of when they think of you? Fun.
What is one thing you wish you had learned earlier as a grandparent? That it's OK to offer advice or suggestions as long as I make sure my kids are interested in hearing what I have to say first! No unsolicited advice or tossing in my two cents' worth unless they actually ask me what I think.
What one bit of advice would you give a new grandma? Give your sons and daughters all the love and support you can. They're trying to figure things out just the way we did—no one has all the answers and we all do things our own way. Many times I thought, well, I know how to do that—gimme that baby!—but I was happy to see my kids learn on their own.
Do you have a website or blog? Yes I do. My blog is called Zero to Sixty in One Year.
Photo credit: Cindy Chen, www.cindychenphotography.com, except for the photo of the two kids and the one of Risa and Fenton.
Dear Readers: If you'd like to nominate a grandma for grilling—yourself or any other grandma—please e-mail me her first name and e-mail address and I'll take care of the rest. Thank you!