Take the Grandparent Challenge and Let the Grandkids Tag Along

grandparent challenge

A morning walk triggered a fond memory in early June, mid-sixties. The water was cold as I jumped into the shallow end of the pool. My grandmother, slowly walking down the pool steps, declared it unusually cold for an early June morning.

We were up early for her morning swim so we could beat the young swimming students who would be arriving soon. As I think back on it, I have no memory of her swimming, but I’m sure I splashed around and practiced my mermaid strokes.

My uncle arrived just before kids began spilling out of cars for several rounds of swimming lessons. I joined my group for the lessons of the day, and my grandmother faded away to her many house chores.

The pool, a small community pool, was built by my grandfather and uncle on family land. Teaching swimming lessons was my uncle’s way of coping with the loss of his five-year-old son, who drowned ten years before.

I remember swimming, but memories of my grandmother are fleeting. Sweeping the kitchen and living room floor every day, hanging clothes outside to dry and killing a snake with a hoe melt right into Red Velvet cake at Christmas time and plenty of hugs.

Time with my grandmother wasn’t about fun; even the early morning swim was joining in her morning routine, not for my entertainment.

Today, I hear friends talk about preparations for grandchildren coming to visit. They even talk about cousin camp. Every day is full of events designed to entertain and ensure the children are having fun. By the time the week is up, my friends are exhausted and some say their favorite view is the brake lights as the family car whisks them away to their real lives.

I wonder what their grandchildren will remember about the visit.

Parent-Child and Grandparent Relationships Have Changed

For some time now, there has been a stark difference between the relationships children and grandchildren have now with their parents and grandparents and the norm in my childhood. Psychologists have studied the shift extensively.

Ultimately, they say we have closer bonds between the generations than what existed fifty or more years ago. Despite criticism of overinvolved, overprotective helicopter parents, we are experiencing a shift that suggests adult children are much closer to their parents than in past generations.

Do you suppose those relationship dynamics extend to grandparents? My answer is yes. It seems to me that children are more bonded to their grandparents than ever before.

Recognize the opportunity to set examples and share life lessons. My grandmother taught me to start early, enjoy a little time for yourself, dive into chores, and share good food.

There was always room for one more or two at the table and time to raise money for the Rebekah Children’s Home in Corsicana and Odd Fellow Home for the Aged in Ennis.

I am sure you are thrilled to know the bond between grandchildren and grandparents runs deep. But don’t let that bond leave you exhausted at the end of an action-packed week with your grandchildren with no lasting memories.

Take the Grandparent Challenge

  • Choose a few activities that can be inspiring and memorable.
  • Share with your grandchildren how you help others.
  • Take them along to donate to one of your favorite charities.
  • Walk in and introduce your grandchild to someone at the charity and let them hand over the donation check.
  • Clean out the closets to donate items others can still put to good use.

You won’t know what sticks, but they will learn about life with you.

I didn’t know I was learning to be philanthropic from my grandmother. Members of the Odd Fellow and Rebekah lodges are dedicated to philanthropy and charity. I just saw what she did and had the occasional privilege to tag along. She didn’t explain what we were doing in much detail. I just did whatever she was doing.

I wouldn’t trade my grandmother memories with anyone. I was busy learning all about charity. What are your grandchildren learning from you?

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