Le Diner en Blanc New York

Le Diner en Blanc New York
Lincoln Center 2012

Thursday, June 25, 2009

WHAT GRANDMOTHERS ARE FOR

A few days ago I was interviewed by Bobbi Conner, host of the radio show “The Parent’s Journal,” which is carried by about 200 stations around the U.S., as well as the Armed Services Network. (I’ll post here when I find out when it will be aired.) Bobbi asked some really good questions – including a couple that focus on the value of grandparents spending time with grandkids, and some of the positive aspects of this for the child, the grandparent, and the parent.

As I was thinking about this, I remembered a wonderful interview I was once privileged to have with the amazing anthropologist Margaret Mead. I had been asking her about issues relating to child care. She told me, “The worst thing is just having the mother boxed up with the baby 24 hours a day, which nobody ever meant to have happen in the whole history of the human race. Babies are most likely to develop into well-adjusted human beings when they are cared for by many warm, friendly people – as long as most of these loved people remain in the infants’ lives.”

And who fills this bill the best? The grandmother, of course. We’re the next best thing to a parent. As another stable relationship in child’s life, we’re there. We can give parents a break, and they can relax knowing we'll take loving care of their offspring. And in some ways we’re even better than a parent – well, at least, different. Our role is different -- for one thing we don't have the responsibility of socializing the children so we are free of those pressures. Also, at this time in our lives we usually have more time than a busy parent does, more patience, and more of an understanding that so many of the things we worried about never materialize, so we can be more relaxed than the parents can be -- and than we were as parents.

Then too, sometimes a child needs to talk to someone who’s not a parent but who they know is just as concerned with their happiness and well-being as a parent is – here’s where grandparents come in, to offer a different perspective from the one they can get from their parents, friends, or siblings. We’ve been around the block a few times, and we can draw on a wealth of experiences.

Plus, we’re one more person in their lives they can have fun with.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

WHY I WENT TO CROATIA AND SLOVENIA

This post is in answer to Little P's question commenting on my post about bringing back presents for grandchildren, in which she asked why we chose this trip.

My husband had been wanting to go to Dubrovnik for years; we had heard that Croatia is beautiful; and then a brochure from SmarTours came in the mail and the places, dates, and cost were all right for us. Both countries are indeed blessed with lovely sites. One high point was walking the city walls in Dubrovnik and seeing the marvelous views of the sea, the old forts, and the red-tiled roofs of the houses below. We also enjoyed admiring the architecture of the buildings by the river in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. And so much more.

I had known nothing about Slovenia before, and very little about Croatia. Thanks to a little reading that I did ahead of time and to the info from our tour guides, I came back with a better understanding of both countries and their often sad history. I always like to prepare for a trip by reading travel narratives and novels set in the place where I'm going. This time I got some of the flavor of both countries by reading "After Yugoslavia" by Zoe Bran, an account of the author's return trip through the area; "The Sound of Blue" by Holly Payne, a novel set partly in Dubrovnik and partly in a camp for Croatian refugees; and "They Would Never Hurt a Fly" by Slavenka Drakulic, a powerful and painful account of some of the defendants in the 1995 war crimes trials in The Hague, asking what happens to ordinary people that can turn them into vicious killers.

One big plus about travel for me is that it sensitizes my antenna for news. I have found, for example, that when a place I have visited is written about in the newspaper, I am more likely to go beyond the headline and read the whole article-- and to have a special understanding of what's going on there. I feel a new linkage to the people of that country, its government, its trials and its triumphs. And so it is now, with this part of the world about which I had been so ignorant. I know I don't have to visit places to understand them, but for me this brings them closer when I have walked their streets and spoken with their people. And so I hope to continue to visit -- and to learn about -- more places in this big world.

Monday, June 15, 2009

FREE SUBSCRIPTION TO GRAND MAGAZINE FOR GRANDPARENTS

GRAND is a terrific online magazine for grandparents, which subscribers receive monthly in their computer's inbox. I had a subscription to it in its former paper life, and now I really enjoy the online version. The April, May, and June issues are especially enjoyable for me because they all carry excerpts from SUPER GRANNY (grin). I like the other articles, too, full of good information and good ideas.

The powers-that-be at GRAND have offered a free subscription to all my readers. To get it, check out this website: http://www.nxtbook.com/fx/mags/lastissue.php?mp=/nxtbooks/grand/grand_v4&stdata=trackcode:superg and then click on the word "Subscribe" on the top right corner of the screen. It doesn't say "FREE" but if you enter my code (superg), your subscription will be free.

To find my story in the June issue about running with my grandson, go to page 32. My other stories -- all about adolescent grandchildren -- are about taking a grandchild to breakfast (April) and texting (May).

I hope you like the magazine, and I’d love to hear from you about it.

The editors are currently looking for GRANDParent of the Year nominations. If you would like to nominate anyone, they would be happy to hear from you.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

GRANDPARENTS ON VACATION

I’ve been away from these pages for a few weeks because Mark (Opa) and I went to Croatia and Slovenia, with a brief visit to Bosnia-Herzegovenia. We were away only two weeks, but somehow catching up with work before and afterwards, and getting ready for the trip and re-entry afterwards ate up a lot of time. We saw some beautiful picture-postcard scenes along the Adriatic coast and some very sad reminders of the war in the Balkans during the 1990s. And we met a number of other grandparents – this is, after all, the demographic that has the time and the money to travel.

Even though none of us were with our grandchildren, you could tell that thoughts of them were ever-present. One grandfather looked everywhere for dolls in ethnic costumes for his granddaughters that were “not in plastic cases [the dolls, not the granddaughters] but were real dolls that the girls can drag around with them.” A grandmother stocked up on local postage stamps for her grandson’s collection. Several people hit the computers at the hotel every day to connect with children and grandchildren. And so it went.

We sent postcards to everyone as we always do, letting them know we were thinking of them and giving them a little taste of another country. Then, throughout our twelve days of active sight-seeing I looked for presents that I might bring the grandchildren. I ruled out cheap souvenirs since they all have too much stuff already and don’t need more to clutter up their homes. I ruled out expensive jewelry because I like to shop for good gifts where I know the merchant and can return if there’s any problem. I knew we didn’t need to bring anything, since one of my daughters has said, “Please don’t bring a present every time you come – the children are happy just to see you.” And we weren’t gone any longer than a typical gap between seeing the family.

But I didn’t feel right coming home empty-handed after we had taken such an extensive trip, so I kept looking – and I finally found a solution for the four granddaughters in an unlikely little souvenir shop: little change purses made of handkerchief-linen fringed with lace (for which Croatia is known), with little zippers. Easy to pack, inexpensive, and easy to push to the back of a dresser drawer if the girls don’t want to use them. For our 20-something grandson there was nothing that seemed useful or entertaining enough to bring home. We’ll have to buy him a little something when he comes to visit us this fall.

I wonder how other grandparents feel about bringing souvenirs from trips for grandchildren. A “must,” a “maybe,” or a “forget-about-it”? Let me hear from you.