Charles and Sally

Charles and Sally
en route to Le Diner en Blanc

Le Diner en Blanc New York

Le Diner en Blanc New York
Lincoln Center 2012

Thursday, June 26, 2008

When Grandparents Get Sick

Two days ago I had a really upsetting experience. As I left a memorial service for a friend, which was held at NYU Medical Center in Manhattan, I was just outside the hospital when I saw two children, about 10 and 11, with an elderly man who looked as if he was about to keel over – he was lurching sideways. As I stopped to help, the younger child, a boy, asked me if I had a phone. I took out the phone with one hand and gave it to him. Meanwhile I reached out and held up the man to keep him from falling. The girl dialed a number but it didn’t go through. Neither of the children seemed to speak good English, and the man wasn’t speaking at all.

With the help of another passerby and an attendant we got the man, who turned out to be the children's grandfather, into a wheelchair, and the attendants said they would take him to the Emergency Room. The three had been visiting the grandmother, a patient in the hospital, and when they came out the grandfather got sick. The hospital attendant who eventually came over thought that he had had a stroke, which seemed likely. The man behind the desk spoke Spanish and was able to communicate with the children and to tell them they could go up to tell the grandmother what was happening. I offered to go up with them – I hated just leaving them there, but they waved me off and went on their way. I tried telling the grandfather where the children were going, but he didn’t seem to understand me, so I asked the wheelchair attendant to tell him in Spanish, which he did. It wasn’t clear whether he understood him either or whether the stroke, or whatever was happening with him, left him unable to grasp what was happening. I felt really bad for this family, wondering how the children would get home, who would be there to take care of them, and how they would deal with the trauma of seeing their grandfather get so sick while he was supposed to be taking care of them.

Then I thought about the implications for all of us who take care of our grandchildren. Although when we do this we're usually healthy and don't anticipate a problem like this, trouble can come from nowhere. I have been trying to figure out what we can do to be sure that if we are suddenly taken ill or are injured, our grandchildren will be cared for. One thing is that we should always have a phone with us at these times, and for children who are old enough to use one, we should teach him or her how to call for help. One precaution is to have 911 programmed into our phones at the top of the list. But what else? I would welcome any suggestions from other grandparents.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Super Granny in the Computer Age

So -- my frustrating tale of woe. On June 17 I posted here. On June 18 I had a computer guru come to fix various glitches on my computer. On June 19 when I went to log into this blog the guru's email address was on the sign-in spot and I was unable to sign in. I entered my own email address -- and still was unable to sign in. Many tries, doing all sorts of things, including going to blogger help, which didn't help. So here I am logging in on my husband's computer. It's a big help to have a backup computer in the house!!! Right now I'm waiting to hear from my computer guru, about to try some other machinations to try to sign in, and about to surrender this screen to my roommate. So if you don't hear from me for a few days you'll know why. And I think I'm so computer-savvy! Not. If anyone has any ideas I'd love to hear from you at WendkosOlds@alumni.upenn.edu. This includes the powers-that-be at blogger.com.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Katie Davis's books

One of my greatest joys as a grandmother has been to introduce my grandchildren to the joys of reading. I have given them books as gifts from the time they could barely hold board books in their hands or enjoy the tactile fun of "Pat the Bunny." I have developed a little Oma's Library at my house by buying books that I knew I would enjoy reading over and over and over to them, and never get bored. These reading-together times are special moments I have shared with all the grandchildren.

And one of my deep pleasures as a friend has been to see my friends' children growing up to do wonderful things -- like writing books. I first met my friend Sue in a New York City playground with our two-year-olds, my Jenny and her Katie. After Sue's family, and then ours, moved away from New York we didn't see much of each other for many years, until we both moved back to the New York area. My next connection with Katie came when she wrote and illustrated the wonderful picture book "Who Hops?" Of course I had to buy it for the grandchildren. We read it over and over again. Even before the grandkids could read they were able to memorize its hypnotic rhythms and enjoy its vivid colors. And I could keep enjoying the jokes that may have gone over the children's heads.

Then I discovered another book of Katie's, which became another family favorite. "I Hate to Go to Bed" so exactly mirrors the feelings of little people who are convinced that if they go to bed while others are awake, they'll be missing all kinds of wonderful events. Again, a hypnotic refrain and marvelous pictures.

And "Mabel the Tooth Fairy and How She Got Her Job" gave us lots of laughs and lots of good conversations about teeth, and when Nina lost her tooth last week, who else but Mabel came and visited with tooth money and even signed her name.

There were more delightful books. But now my grandchildren are growing up. They want to read to me -- or by themselves. And just in time, Katie has written a wonderful "chapter book" for 9-to-14's about a sixth grader with problems with math, her best friend, the death of her father, and her mom's new boyfriend. Thanks, Katie, for bringing "The Curse of Addy McMahon" into Lisa's and Nina's lives.

Next time Lisa (12) and Nina (8) come to visit, one of our activities will be going to Katie's wonderful website: www.katiedavis.com. We'll all have fun.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Just Granny and Me

I have a hard time understanding those grandmothers who say "I don't babysit." Don't they know how much more fun it is being with a grandchild when the parents aren't around? After all, when you have her all to yourself (most of my grandchildren are "hers"), you're the one she comes to with her interesting questions (like "How does the tooth fairy know where to find me when I'm at your house?"); you're the one she snuggles up to when she wants to read -- or have you read -- a favorite book; you're the one she shows off her special tricks in the swimming pool to; you're the one she beats at Checkers (thanks to the two "imaginary" checkers her day camp counselor told her she could play with); you're The One. As much as I love my grandchildren's mothers (my daughters) and want to spend time with them, there's a special joy in the times when you're a twosome, just Grandchild and You.