Grilled Grandma: Nita

How many children do you have? I have two wonderful children. My son, Michael is 34 and my daughter, Katie, is 30.

How many grandchildren? What are their ages? So far I have been blessed with two adorable granddaughters, aged 4 and 1.

Any great grandchildren? Not yet.

What do your grandchildren call you? At my request, my grandchildren call me Nona.

Other than the initial elation, what was your first concern upon hearing you would be a grandmother? My first concern was that I was living in a very small apartment at the time and I worried that a child wouldn’t be comfortable or have fun at Nona’s place because of this. I then moved to a bigger place, but it is still very small. Fortunately, I have since realized that this is not an issue. My grandchildren love to come to Nona’s house, and with a little imagination, I have managed to craftily store all the necessary paraphernalia needed to keep them comfortable, occupied, and safe.

How often do you get to see your grandchildren? It varies, but on average I see them about once every two weeks.

What is the best thing about being a grandma? The best part about being a grandma is watching your own child become a wonderful, caring parent.

What is the most challenging part of being a grandma? The most challenging part of being a grandma is remembering that your wonderful, caring child IS the parent.

Describe a recent time that one (or more) of your grandchildren made you laugh out loud. We were playing school and 4 year old Hannah pointed to the Christmas Cards that were strung across the wall, pretending that they were the class rules. She “read” them to me one by one. Suddenly she stopped and spoke in a sympathetic voice (as if she were graciously letting me in on something that she thought I didn’t know, but should). “You know, Nona,” she said, “If you don’t follow the class rules you’ll have to get a consequence.” I cracked up.

What is your favorite thing to do with grandchildren who visit your house? My favorite thing to do with the 4 year old is to have some kind of a hunt. We have had letter hunts, color hunts, and egg hunts, but my favorite was the treasure hunt I put together one sleep-over with a map, picture and riddle clues, and even a real buried treasure chest filled with fake jewelry and chocolate coins. It was a big hit and fun for me to plan, as well. My favorite thing to do with the baby is finding out, through play, what developmental skills she has mastered since I saw her last. I’m always amazed at how fast they grow!

What is your favorite thing to do when visiting grandchildren at their house? My favorite is playing that I am a student at school and Hannah is the teacher. We put all the stuffed animals, dolls, and of course, baby Emily in a semi-circle and Hannah answers all of our questions, teaches us the alphabet, leads us in finger plays, and reads us her books.

How do you maintain the bond between yourself and your grandchildren between visits? I keep them in my heart and send them good Reiki energy until I see them again.

What do you most want to pass along to your grandchildren? I want most to teach them that life is change; that change is not bad (just different); and that the earlier one learns to embrace change, the earlier one will be at peace with life.  I also would like them to know that they are lovable just the way they are. That’s why I used to enjoy Mr. Rogers, when their dad and aunt were growing up. He used to tell the children that every day.

What is one word you hope your grandkids think of when they think of you? Unconditional-Love (I hope that counts as one word, because the unconditional is really important).

What is one thing you wish you had learned earlier as a grandparent? I wish I had remembered earlier that the gift children like and appreciate most is the gift of undivided attention. I had learned this fact as a parent, but forgot about it over the years.

What one bit of advice would you give a new grandma? Give yourself time to grow into your new role. You didn’t become a successful parent overnight and it works the same for grandparenting.

Get to know Nita better by visiting Nona Nita's Grandparenting Blog.