9 posts categorized "Grandparents"

Unaccompanied Minors: Big deal?

May 07, 2012

Every year I try to schedule a family trip back to the Midwest to visit family. For the past few years, we have been able to coordinate the trip so that my two older boys spend a few weeks with our families without our presence. It's worked out well, but this year, scheduling this has been challenging unless my boys fly solo.

Instead of their cousins flying solo to come see us, I've been exploring the possibility of my the boys (ages 7 and 9) flying unaccompanied, giving them 1-2 weeks with our families before the rest of us make the road trip halfway across the country. Gulp! I've talked with them at great lengths about this possibility. Both seemed to be open to the adventure especially since they'd have each other.  As I was searching for fares last night, I found something reasonable enough to purchase.  Exciting, right? When I shared the news, I was met with mixed emotions. The older one was excited, and his younger brother was well, hesitant. Apprehensive. Probably a bit scared. I completely understand. I had regrets. Maybe I jumped the gun. With the trip a few months away, I'm hoping that I have some time to ease his and my own anxiety. Have your kids traveled unaccompanied? What has been your experience? Any words of wisdom?


Grandparents as Caretakers: has it worked for you?

April 25, 2012

As I was heading to drop off one of the kids at school this morning, I passed a mom and child pulled into a driveway.  She was handing off her son, pre-kinder age, to her parents.  "Mom, don't worry about it," she said.  It seemed like a regular arrangement for grandma to be watching the tot, just about as regular as another family I pass often, where mom pulls over, many times double parked, to lug her infant-in-carseat up several front steps to her dad, always waiting for her atop the stairs.

Grandparents can play a crucial role in rearing our little ones.  I, myself, spent a lot of time with all of my living grandparents - my mom's parents and my dad's mom took turns taking care of me from the time I was born.  I was even sent back to my parents' native country, the Philippines, for a while when I was around a year old, so that my parents could work odd hours and study to pass licensing exams.

Rearing my own children, I didn't have the support network of nearby family where they could play a daily role in helping with childcare.  

Having loved growing up with my grandparents, and now watchiing how adoring my own kids are of their own grandparents, I love to hear stories of grandparents developing a routine with their grandkids, a special, regular relationship and intimacy with one another.  Have you had your children's grandparents involved, on a regular basis, with childcare?  How has that been?

Sending them to grandmother's house... and beyond.

August 08, 2011

Now that my eldest is eight, my mother reminded me that next year he'll be old enough for his "9 year old Yaya trip." The idea being that my mother (yaya) and he would plan and take a trip together - a special place they agree on. It's a brilliant idea, really, that my mother gleaned from another friend of hers who is especially well versed in the art of grandparenting.

Granny_g But wait... nobody asked me if *I* was ready. And wouldn't he get home-sick? Or at least family-sick? He's not been apart from us for more than a single night. Even then, he wasn't very far away (a short drive at the most!) My mother is also not local (although she's an extremely frequent visitor). I'm not sure if she is ready to host a journey solo with my eldest. They spend some time together but there's the awkward situation she would be put in if this trip were to happen. The awkward situation of her being the parental figure, if necessary.

There are two thoughts that keep nagging at me. First, I really don't want to burden her with my child. I know that sounds silly. After all, she's had lots of parental experience (and success - I hope!). I just feel like as a grandparent, she'd want to be more liberal in their relationship than a parent and child would be. So would she just assume the parental figure if things come down to that? Second, they haven't spent all that much time together. In the past, their personalities have gone head to head a few times. I have to admit, my eldest can challenge the limits of even the most patient types!

So I think that maybe we will wait. Until he is 10, perhaps, or 11. That way the experience will be a better one for both of them. The experience that my mother envisions them having. A growing and bonding time together that they will remember for their whole lives. Have any of you sent your children off with grandparents for grand adventures? Have you had any great successes (or great disasters) in trusting both your parents and children to go off on their adventures? Any advice you may have about making trips like this work is welcome!

Get the Grandparents Moving: is it possible?

July 22, 2011

A few years ago, when at the inagural Sunday Parkways, my parents happened to be visiting us for the weekend.  I was determined to bike the route, so I insisted that they join us.  I asked them: do you want to walk or bike?  My dad, who probably hadn't been on a bike in a good 20 years, agreed to ride.  My mom tried in earnest to quickly learn to ride a bike on the sidewalk, but she just couldn't get it.  But she tried.  She ended up riding on the back of my Xtracycle.

A few weeks ago, again it was Sunday Parkways in our neighborhood.  My husband's parents, this time, were visiting.  Again, his parents had either never really ridden a bike or hadn't done so in years.  His dad rode along with us for a few miles, but really petered out at the end.  He was spent.   At one point, my husband just took him home, as he feared his dad would buckle over.  The exertion seemed too much.

Our kids are most definitely lucky in that they have all four of their grandparents.  However, we worry about their health, and what we can do to make them more healthy, more able to spend more time with their grandkids for years to come.

We can't do anything to change their [very sedentary] ways.  Or: can we?  Whenever they visit us, we walk to the store or to dinner or just take walks around the neighborhood.  We push them to continue to walk, even if just around the block, even if just a quarter of a mile to their neighbor.  Walking could be such a great way to get fit, to stay fit.

Back in their hometowns, they drive everywhere.  There is little reason to be active.  There is every reason to settle in front of the TV for hours.  Recreation involves eating out.  

We don't expect our parents to take cross-country bicycle rides or run marathons (although some people their age do!).  We just want them to find a level of fitness and activity that is comfortable for them, in the hopes of extending their lives, increasing their energy levels.  Is that too much to ask?  If your kids have grandparents in their lives, are they active?  Do you worry along these lines?  Or, is it futile, as they will be as they are?

When grandparents come: Is it all candy & TV?

March 24, 2009

Sometimes I have a hard time believing that I came from my parents.  Could it be possible that our approaches could be so different?

We limit sugar in our family.  It just makes sense.  The sugar makes little people go bonkers until wee hours of the night.  We aren't a no-sugar household, just a moderated-sugar household.  When it comes to screen time, we use it on occassion, but not all the time.

When the grandparents whisk into town, it seems that the kids are always clutching a bag of gummis or a sucker.  It seems that there's always the background noise of "kung fu panda" or "nikelodeon".  We have had words with grandparents, asking them not to give the kids candy or plop them in front of a screen all day, but it lands on deaf ears.  It must be their age.

Do we just pretend we don't see our kids discolored tongues from the daily lollipops?  Do we pretend we can't see the unending glare of the TV screen?  How do you handle how grandparents handle your kids if it differs from your approach?

Who Will Care For Those We Care For Most?

June 16, 2008

As we get older, we being to face the difficult challenge of caring for our elderly loved ones.  Making the decision to place them in an assisted living facility can be filled with all kinds of emotions and can be an enormous responsibility.   Once the decision has been made to make the move, the process of finding a care facility that will provide a safe and loving environment can be daunting at best.  This UrbanMama hopes to find advice and referrals from our loving community.  She writes:

I need to find an assisted living situation for my grandparents fast. I prefer close-in NE. Does anyone have any experience with Calaroga Terrace or Holladay Park? Any other suggestions? This is so stressful for my family, I would love any and all advice.

Activities for Grandparents & Grandkids

February 22, 2008

Aside from an effort way back to unite grandbaby-grandparent pairs with other like pairs, does anyone have suggestions for helping a grandma and her grandchild make some meaningful connections? Julie emails:

I have an amazing mother-in-law who takes care of my 14-month old full-time. My in-laws are relatively new to the area, having moved to Portland my son was born and are still getting settled in. Does anyone have any recommendations for play groups or activities that would be fun for my son and also provide a social outlet for grandma?

Blood - is it thicker than water?

August 23, 2007

Our family is bi-coastal.  My husband's family in New York, my own family in San Francisco.  When we lived back east, my inlaws were 3 hours away and my parents were across the country.  When they would visit, we were torn between exploiting the free babysitting and spending quality time.

When I grew up, it definitely took a village.  I was surrounded by cousins, aunties, uncles, and three grandparents.  My mother would drop me off, my aunt would pick me up and leave me at my grandmother's until my father picked me up later.  I would hang out and play with cousins.  Aunts and uncles would float in and out of my grandmother's house, picking up my cousins and often staying for dinner.  The place always smelled of vats of my lola's home-cooked Filipino food.

Fast foward to my girls and their growing-up experience.  Daily interaction with extended family is nil.  We have created our own "family" here in Portland, but there is still something to be said of family, of whom you could ask almost anything.  At 4 o'clock one afternoon, when you are held up somewhere, could you ask a relative to please, please see if s/he can drop everything to pick up your child from school?  Could you ask your brother to babysit the kids while you run Hood-to-Coast, perhaps?  Or could you ask your sister to watch the kids so you could steal away for some much needed adult time?  Or leave the kids with your parents for an even longer weekend for an adult mini-getaway?

We've been parents for almost seven years, and - for the most part - we haven't had family close enough for those last-minute regular requests for assistances with the crazy juggle of parenthood.  Two years ago, though, my two brothers moved to Portland.  Single, in their 20s, and very bachelor-minded, it's been hard to pin them down and make these special familial requests.  They're in the SE and we rarely see them.  But, they're all we have here in Portland when it comes to family, in the strictest sense.

Now that my parents and my parents-in-law are approaching retirement, we get to thinking about other families we know here in Portland whose parents have moved to Portland to be closer to their grandchildren.  So, I'm curious: do you have extended family nearby or here in Portland?  Is it helpful for you and your kids?  Do they share in childcare?  Is it more of a nuisance?  Do you see them often or hardly at all?

We're going to grandma's!

July 19, 2007

I remember when I was a kid, I'd beg my parents to let me stay at my cousin's house for the weekend.  The first night was so fun - we'd stay up all night, set up sleeping bags in the living room, watch movies.  By the second night, though, I'd miss my bed, my own pajamas, my room, and my parents.  I'd get homesick, even on just the second night.

When I was ten, my parents decided it would be a wonderful life experience for me and my brothers to spend the summer - three months - in the Philippines.  We rotated houses, staying with my grandmother and a myriad of aunts, uncles, and cousins.  I definitely thought it was novel, since I convinced my aunt that I was allowed to have ice cream sundaes every day.  But, after the first week, I was homesick.  And, I had several, several weeks to go.  My two brothers were 6 years old and 4 years old that summer.

When we came home, finally, my mother gave us each the hug of all hugs.  She clung to us like she'd never let us go.  She told us, "We will never, ever, ever leave you for that long again.  Ever."

Our girls are lucky enough for have four grandparents - my parents and my husband's parents.  For a long while now, they have been trying to finagle a way to get the girls to spend a week in San Francisco (with my parents) or in New York (with my husband's parents).  The girls and I have spent only a few instances apart.  Just a handful, really.  I didn't spend a night away from either of them until they were each three years old, at least.

Maybe it I am the one who is having a hard time being OK with the time apart.  But, I do think that the time apart may be more challenging than they may think.  Have you had your child(ren) go away and spend time at the grandparents' or with other family?  How has it been?  Have you loved the time apart or hated it?