Children

Grandmother Blues

Saw my granddaughters Reagan (10) and Morgan (7) this weekend.  The weather was horrible, we are in a rental a few hours away and it seemed we did more driving than visiting.  Although we did have time for a great dinner at home, watching the movie Zootopia, and playing a game that involved headbands and guessing about the card you could not see placed in your headband.  When we left (in less than 24 hours) I felt that I just didn’t get to share as much as I had hoped.  But, we had long standing dinner plans, so that made us feel we needed to stay with our plans and leave.

The truth is, the lifestyle we have now is not making it easy to be a fabulous grandmother.  We used to have a house in the northeast, which though a couple of hours away from our daughter and her family, allowed them to come visit for a weekend multiple times in the late spring and summer months. Having sold that house and having our home base now in Tucson while we spend the late spring and summer in various rentals around the country, we do not have a convenient home base to host our children/grandchildren.  Of course we can visit them, which we are doing, but we can’t have them “come to our house” except for their trip/s to Tucson – which is far away from their base in the New York suburbs.

156618653

There are several reasons we made the choice to switch up our lifestyle that include age, health, and preferences of how we want to spend our older years.  We do believe we have made the best choice for us.  But I am beginning to own that it was not the best choice for our granddaughters.  They just don’t have the casual time in our house they used to and really do not get as much quality time with us as they did.  And that is making me blue.

It seems this is like much of life – making a choice for one thing, means something else, or someone else gets less.  And certainly this is the case here.  And now, I am trying to get my balance about that.  Trying to reconcile being fabulous while being a bit less so in the grandmother role.  What I am slowly discovering is that I need to get more creative – and lose the guilt. Guilt doesn’t help and truly I do not need to feel guilty for choosing an option that essentially is best for my husband and myself.

t5653_TGIF_ThisGrandma_AQUA_BLK__66827.1429304359.1280.1280

Believing that my responsibilities include being a good, if not great, grandmother, dictates that I consider the consequences of some of my choices and adjust.  So I am now committing to more of iPhone’s FaceTime, and virtual connection and more visits and special trips planned in advance that build quality time.  I am going to stop being blue and start being more organized about having my granddaughters always know I care about them and see them as a priority.  Which means, that my total flexibility to see lots of different friends when we are in rentals near our children has to get cut back – I cannot see all the people we want to and meet my top goals.  I now realize that I have to be willing to do that even though it means some friendships will have to fall by the wayside to make room for being more available and flexible for our granddaughters.

This blog has been hard to write.  I keep waiting for things in my life to get easier.  But life keeps reminding me that as Dr. Scott Peck said: “life is difficult” and takes persistence and work and moving parts around the table and changing and readjusting.

347852

No, I don’t have to stop making the best choices for Bill and myself, but I have to admit and rearrange my life to make sure what is second, third and fourth in my life can all get done.  While the lure of whining is great – the truth endures.  Watch what happens when choices start to bring consequences (every one of them does) – and make the adjustments you need to.  Life really is a continuous round of learning – and learning always has been at the heart of being fabulous.  I can go back to being a fabulous grandmother if I make the right adjustments.

Yes, dear fabulous sisters, it always comes down to this sometimes very uncomfortable truth – WE have to do the changing.  Fabulous doesn’t work any other way.

Patty

Can We Save Our Grandchildren?

My grandgirls (age 10 and 7) were here for Easter week.  Great fun and many laughs. And some moments of shaking my head and wondering if these gorgeous, brilliant, athletic, sensitive and caring girls (I did mention they were MY granddaughters right?) were growing up in a wildly paced technological world I would never understand.  A world that could warp their values and twist their minds in some way leaving them totally materialistic, often without a moral core, confused, over stimulated and indifferent to everyone but themselves.  Hmm, do you ever think these crazy thoughts about the current youngest generation?  Sure you do.  Maybe it’s the Tang and Tab we drank, the Tareyton’s we smoked, the Beatles and Stones we listened to or the free love and/or non-medicinal marijuana we shared that has made us wary of today’s mysterious culture.

rolling_stones_trade_xl_gb_3d_05792_1503130925_id_912510.png

I got up one morning last week and both girls were intently playing with their Kindle Fire tablets. They were so quiet I was partly thrilled (I remember being quiet as a child – am I just delusional or were we actually half as noisy?) and partly worried as I realized I had no, yes, no control over what they were watching.  Or, what they were thinking or evolving into based on what they were watching.  After Reagan noticed me she was anxious to show me a “show” on YouTube she really likes – Miranda Sings, a sort of Pee Wee Herman for the current 4th grade set.  It was rather odd to say the least – in a sort of young tween age gross, disgusting sense.  This quick look into today’s girls’ world started my serious reflection on how I could counter some of these new cultural influences.

web_header_mirandasings.jpg

Miranda Sings – YouTube character

Here are my conclusions:

  • I am right that I have little idea what is going on in my granddaughters world in terms of fashion, TV, media, nature of the culture and most things they interact with and observe daily
  • This is not the end of the world
  • The reality is, the people our children and grandchildren become are only partially impacted by the culture they experience. They are MORE, MUCH MORE, influenced by the homes, parents, and family (including us) that surround them and interact with them as they grow up
  • We remember mainly standard things our parents said frequently – which included these and their variations:
    • Why are you heating the outdoors? Close the door
    • We walked x miles to school/church etc. with bad shoes/light shoes/no boots
    • If that is what the teacher/the Rabbi/Father John/Reverend Bob or the librarian said, then that is what you are going to do!
    • Don’t have such a swelled head
    • And their favorite as we grew to be teens and young women: why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?!?
  • Likely our grandchildren will remember the new equivalent of those messages said by our children to them, including these and their variations:
    • Believe in yourself
    • You are wonderful and deserve the best
    • Stop doing that or eating that – it will result in something awful that the government should ban
    • We don’t do that in this house
    • Time out/inside voice/STOP
  • Our grandchildren will likely NOT remember much of anything we say – BUT, and here is the BIG INSIGHT for this fabulous grandmother:
    • They will observe and mimic the things we say that are funny and unique. I expect Reagan and Morgan to talk with a banana in their ear while having breakfast with their children or grandchildren just like I did. As well as call every insect and animal Mr. or Miss whatever – Mr. Ant, Miss Bear, Mr. Chip, Miss Fish – they already do
    • They will observe and worry or not about someday getting older based on how we are handling it right now – they are already telling our daughter they want her to be an “active” grandma like me
    • They will understand love, money, success, generosity, kindness, intellectual curiosity and honesty based on what we DO with/to and around our children and them

Since this analysis, I am not nearly as worried about saving my grandchildren from the culture anymore.  I work extremely hard on modeling values I want them to incorporate in themselves.  I do not lecture or advise.  I have few if any opinions and respect the boundaries around them and their parents who they see I love dearly.

“Shit”, I said after doing something not quite right in the kitchen.  Morgan and Reagan reminded me of two things.  First, I said a bad word (damn they listen don’t they?) and “it’s OK grandma, we love your meatballs.” Where did they get that from?

Don’t worry about YouTube. They’ll be fine.

Patty

Yikety Yak – Yikes – It’s The Yik Yak App!

More on the controversial smartphone app Yik Yak in a moment, but reading about it made me wonder if we shouldn’t bring back parents and grandparents who are not judgmental party poopers – but who are adults with knowledge and competence. Adults know some things that children do not because they are not mature enough, or able to understand and store it in their still developing brains.

books4

These adults can and SHOULD make some judgments and then insist on not “blind obedience” (sadly we had to deal with lots of that) but rather “compliance” – a word I like MUCH better and is both softer and more appropriate in the 21st century. These judgments need to be shared, not to be arbitrary, cruel or bossy two-shoes, but to protect young children and teens from their under-developed minds. That and the resulting stupid, inappropriate and cruel things they are capable of doing just because they are young.

books3

Enter Yik Yak.

From the NY Times: “Like Facebook or Twitter, Yik Yak is a social media network, only without user profiles. It does not sort messages according to friends or followers but by geographic location, or, in many cases by university … Think of it as a virtual community bulletin board … Much of the chatter is harmless. Some of it is not.”

“Yik Yak is the wild west of anonymous social apps, said Danielle Keats Citron, a law professor at the University of Maryland and the author of “Hate Crimes in Cyberspace”.

yik-yak-app

Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, recent graduates of Furman University in South Carolina are the developers of the app which they intended to be democratic – giving everyone a chance to share even if they did not have many “friends” or “followers”. Sounds good — no fabulous women over 60 are down on democracy, but the iPhone and Android app, which is one of the most frequently downloaded in the Apple Store, seems to have created some very difficult and ugly situations for students, teachers, deans, and others on college campuses. Sadly, it is gaining ground in middle and high schools too.

** Google’s Android has recently dropped the app from its app store charts. It hasn’t been banned, it is just harder to find.

Despite all the push back and anger of those injured by its ability to anonymously publish anything about anyone that is not a direct threat (that would be a no no – police recently tracked down a freshman who made a direct threat to someone – he was arrested) there isn’t much anyone can do about it. Free speech of course trumps most efforts at curtailing it. But shouldn’t all adults who know about this application ask our own children and grandchildren to explain why and how they are using it? In other words, we fabulous women need to take some responsibility!

The developers feel that better uses will happen – via NY Times: “It’s definitely still a learning process for us. And we’re definitely still learning how to make the community more constructive.”

I agree the developers are still learning. However, it seems to me some of that learning needed to go on prior to the launch of the application. The experience of millions has informed most of us that giving young people a free pass to say anything they want without any consequences and to be able to do it anonymously doesn’t sound like a good idea. It puzzles me who thought it would lead to good?

Shouldn’t we as adults be on top of this stuff? Or maybe we are too busy on our own social media accounts to pay much attention. I remember my parents saying dozens of times “you will understand when you grow up”. Most of the time I did – maybe we need to give our children and grandchildren a chance to say the same at least a few times. Wouldn’t that be fabulous?

Patty Gill Webber

 

Tricks, Treats and the Day of the Dead

My memories of childhood and Halloween don’t seem to be infused with any sense of loss, failure, upset, commotion or mixed results. It was always fun — and simple. And, as other holidays in the 1950s there were certain recurring traditions. Costumes of course! Hand made or inexpensively purchased with a witch hat or skeleton smock, these costumes were standard fare of an All Hallows Eve or All Saints Eve. Looks from the dead – witches, devils, ghosts or goblins were strongly represented – as were a few common TV or comic book characters like Superman and Roy Rogers. So while many of us remember innocent and less commercial Halloweens, the truth is that even by the 1950s popular culture was seeping into the low key and inexpensive fun.

the_evolution_of_halloween_640_73

We packed little bags of goodies. And while going around the neighborhood families greeted small groups of children they mostly (if not exclusively) knew. Some people went “all out” and served some cider or donuts. Houses had 1 to 3 pumpkins carved with smiling faces and candles inside. The streets of suburbia or the halls of apartment buildings were alive with laughing and sometimes pushing children and some small number of dads (some with flashlights). It started and ended pretty predictably with large bags (pillow cases were often employed) initially empty filled with all that is bad for you and some few apples or pennies that came in those goody bags. Then of course bedtime – perhaps a few parents stayed up with a glass of wine – but I sort of doubt many did. By 9PM it was MORE than a wrap if the children were under 10 and everyone was going to bed and awaiting another entirely predictable day. Hey it was the 1950s and there was no “breaking news” ever!

5427145790_d5180a9e82_z

While it sounds almost sad in comparison to the myriad of costumes, adult parties and of course Halloween apps to download. This is one holiday that really isn’t all that different from that of our childhood. It is still very much about children, family, and having silly fun – and of course getting some great treats while still avoiding tricks – toilet paper draped on trees or smashed tomatoes were frowned upon both then and now.

There was a time in the 60s up through the 80s when Halloween got creepy in a different way — pins, needles and some poisoning hit the media. Some of the innocence and fun was drained as parents and some older people thought the end of Halloween as we knew it was upon us.

But by the 21st century a traditional tide seems to sweep the country in a good way – as least as it relates to Halloween. TV anchors dress up:

Matt Lauer as Paris Hilton

Matt Lauer as Paris Hilton

Costumes got fancier and yes, single people and adults got into partying, but the mainstream celebrations returned to neighborhood trick or treating and an emphasis on family fun. Of course there is always people going to extremes — think Yandy.com – yuck! I put up some inexpensive silly decorations and plan to be here to greet any trick or treaters.

hallo 2

chasing-fireflies.com

My move to Tucson and advancing age has found me ever more fascinated by the Mexican Day of the Dead holiday.

800px-Posada2.Catrina

Maybe because more dead people are closer in age than ever, I find a holiday all about having fun and also honoring the recent dead a winner. My thinking is be there for the young trick or treaters and then pour me some wine while we go look at elaborate or informal shrines and altars — as well as parties in Mexican influenced neighborhoods and restaurants — or hang out watching the Halloween Parade in Greenwich Village with friends.

Halloween is a holiday without guilt, ridiculous family dynamics or overblown competition — add in a big nod to the Day of the Dead and you have a holiday made in heaven. Don’t worry – drama is coming: Thanksgiving is just around the corner.

-Patty

 

%d bloggers like this: