5 ways to be a unique grandparent

How often have you thought, "Now that's a great idea! I should do that!" when a grandchild tells you about a fun experience or activity with his "other" grandparents? I admit I have a time or two.

Yet our grandchildren are enriched by the varied gifts, talents and experiences each grandparent has to offer, so why give them something they're already getting — especially when you have so much to offer of your own? 

Resist the temptation to be a copycat grandparent and follow these five ways to highlight, celebrate and share your uniqueness instead.

how to be a unique grandparent 

ONE
Tell your stories.
Few of us have tales as intriguing as those told by many of our own grandparents of immigrating to the United States as a child or other acts of derring do. We do, though, have stories to tell. Share them with your grandchildren.

What were you like as a child? What were your grandparents like and what did you do together? What were your hopes and dreams when you were their age... and what are they now? When and how did you decide to be what you became, and what do you still hope to accomplish? Your stories are unique; sharing them adds dimension to a child's family tree.

TWO
Highlight your interests.
Consider your interests and find ways to share them in activities and more that would interest your grandchild. For instance, my husband collects coins, so opportunities to dig for treasure (coins) and conversations on coins endlessly delight our grandsons.

dig for treasure

coin collecting

Likewise, I love books and movies, so my bookshelves and my grandma bag are always packed with plenty of books, and a visit to the theater almost always appears on the agenda when we're together.

movie theater with grandsons 

THREE
Share simple skills, not just the big ones.
It makes me smile to hear stories from my grandsons about learning from their paternal great-grandparents how to play checkers and hopscotch. Kids love learning new skills, and I appreciate those the other grandparents have taught our mutual grandchildren.

As for sharing my own skills, I've given my grandsons a few beginning photography pointers by allowing them to take shots with my own camera (yes, my DSLR) a time or two. I'm also a whistler, so I had a great time helping my oldest grandson polish his pucker and blow technique. And as a reformed puzzler, I've taught my grandsons that putting together a puzzle is easier if you first find the corners then the flat edges to create the frame and then fill in with pieces.

Other grandparents may be exceptionally skilled at "nothing but net" basketball shots, baking up the best chocolate chip cookies, naming constellations, playing a mean guitar riff, pitching the perfect tent. Whatever the shared skill may be, a skill gleaned from a grandparent will spark fond memories for the grandchild forever going forward each time it's put to use. 

FOUR
Have a WOW feature.
A grandparent's home lives long in the memory of a child — even more so if Grandma and Grandpa's house has a thing or two grandchildren won't find anywhere else.

Perhaps it's a room of their own...

bedroom for grandchild

Or an outdoor food stand...

outdoor play food stand

Maybe a popcorn cart...

popcorn machine

Or an indoor swing to enjoy on chilly days...

 indoor swing

Big or small, such features need not be major at all, just one that elicits smiles from the kiddos when they see it... and when they remember it. 

FIVE
Be yourself.
Ultimately, it takes no tips or trying when it comes to being a unique grandparent, for each and every one of us is already that.

When I find myself on the verge of wishing I were more like my fellow grandmas, I remind myself of Theodore Roosevelt's sage words: "Comparison is the thief of joy."

And with that in mind, I do my best to celebrate the joy of my grandchildren by sharing with them the one, the only, the unique me.

Today's question:

Which of your unique traits/skills/interests do you most enjoy sharing?