July 27, 2007

Cornucopia / Cynthia Dewes

It’s a ‘grand’ night (and day) for singing

Cynthia DewesThe thing about grandkids is that they’re all different. Of course, our kids are all different too, which always surprised us since they came from the same factory. But with grands, we can get to know them individually without needing to share time with the others. That’s the beauty of grandparenting.

Our practice for our out-of-town families has been to take one grandchild at a time for a week or two in the summer, without their parents or siblings around. Age 9 or 10 is ideal, but any age is great. Naturally, we try to fill their visits with kid stuff such as visits to the Indianapolis Zoo, movies, petting the dogs and cat, etc.

We take trips to the Indiana State Museum and the Eiteljorg Museum, the History Center and a Symphony on the Prairie just so we can’t be accused of ignoring culture. We hike through the woods and examine bugs and try our hand at fishing in the creek, fortunately without result. We play lots of Uno and Monopoly.

Naturally, what we choose to do depends upon the interests of the child. We took a couple of the kids to Indianapolis Indians baseball games, and others to see the large dollhouse at the Children’s Museum. Those who have pets will hang out with the dogs and be licked with sloppy kisses, while those who don’t tend to need time to warm up to the very idea of animals. Perhaps they’ll pet the cat warily.

One, who shares Grandpa’s interest in model railroading and trains in general, puts on a striped engineer’s hat and spends hours with him in the basement running trains, fixing connections and mooning over neat locomotives.

Another, as a teenaged girl, visited every shop downtown, at the Fashion Mall and all points in between, accumulating a vast wardrobe as she went and then trying to figure out how to get it all back to Germany.

One tender-hearted granddaughter spent a couple of weeks with us. She was happy all day, but got a bit weepy at bedtime from homesickness. Luckily, we were prepared with stories and pictures and plenty of hugs.

She enjoyed the huge family reunion we hosted while she was with us as well as the visitor’s perk of local cousins to play with. Come to think of it, the local grandkids probably have the best of both worlds since they get to see Granny and Grandpa more often, and also to enjoy their cousins when they’re visiting.

One thing about grandkids that no one ever tells you is how much information they’re willing to share with their grandparents. Since grandparents present no threat of judgmental parental authority, the kids tend to confide in them. In return, grandparents must honor their confidences, take them seriously and try to give sound advice. Or, maybe just keep still and listen.

Grandchildren don’t often give their grandparents any sass. When we put dinner on the table, they eat whatever it is without question. If we say, “Brush your teeth” or “Get ready for bed,” they just do it. No whining, no bargaining, no aggravation on either side. It’s a marvel.

We’ve come to the last of our

9- and 10-year-old grands, those candidates most suitable for staying with us during the summer, but we’re also beginning to enjoy visits from older ones, their friends and beloveds.

And waiting in reserve, we have the “greats.” Thanks be to God.

(Cynthia Dewes, a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Greencastle, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.) †

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