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ravenoaks | profile | all galleries >> Galleries >> ON BEING GRANDPARENTS WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED SO FAR, WE THINK!!! tree view | thumbnails | slideshow


Sam Levenson, the popular Brooklyn New York humorist is quoted as saying, “The reason grandchildren and grandparents get along so well is that they have a common enemy.” Sara and I are relatively new to the grand parenting game and are not sure of the veracity of that thought, but we are sure of one thing, being grandparents is grand.

Our life style is unique, namely living in a recreational vehicle (RV). We actually live in two RVs; (The Big House) in Aguanga, CA between San Diego and LA that is large, well, 450 square feet and rarely moves, and the other (The Small House) 260 square feet and used for traveling exclusively. 260 square feet is TWO 10 by 13 foot areas for your living room, dining area, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, guest room (roll up mattress), closets and storage. We live in each unit for about 6 months and as hard as it is to imagine, we do it by choice. RV living affords us an advantage that has become, over the past 10 years, very dear to both of us-total flexibility to be almost anywhere in North America for as long as we want, whenever we want. Winters in Southern California and summers in the upper Midwest with spring and fall on the way out and back seem ideal.

For two months of each year our location of choice is Madison, WI, home of our daughter Amy, and husband Rick and our two granddaughters Presley and Teagan. Grandma Sara usually flies from California to Wisconsin each winter to get a 10 day “January jolt” of grandkids.

Our time with Presley and Teagan is compressed into 8 weeks and it is important for us to get it right. Our goals are simple: to spend as much quality time with the grandkids as possible and give Amy and Rick a much deserved break from time to time. We now understand the universal desire of grandparents to be a part of their grandchildren’s lives.

The joy of being grandparents is complicated. Much is made of the fact that the role is so attractive because you have all the fun and little of the responsibility. We are not so sure about that. We have observed, that after a long day or overnight with Presley and Teagan, we are thrilled to see their parents return. However, that emotion may be prompted by sheer fatigue rather than a sudden lifting of a feeling of responsibility.

Comedy writer Gene Perret famously wrote, "Do you know why grandchildren are always so full of energy? They suck it out of their grandparents." Oh, how true!

We have learned to rest up for our appointed time with Presley and Teagan. We aren’t getting any younger and are amazed at how tired we can be at the end of the day. Amy and Rick both have very high stress jobs with pressures that we have long forgotten since retirement, and we marvel at how well they do it all. The situation gives us great pause when tempted to give advice. We never do unless asked and quite frankly, with all the challenges and changes in day to day life since we raised kids, we have nothing but admiration for Amy and Rick as parents.

Timing is everything and we do our best to stick with a schedule in planning our time with the grandkids. We have one day each week plus one weekend day, usually a late night or overnight. We have learned by experience not to “over think” when planning outings with a 3 and 4 year old. Serendipity far out performs what you think they will enjoy. A trip to a farm to see a cow is often more memorable in their eyes than eating at Chucky Cheese and when the cow poops on grandma, well, what could be more fun.

We have learned that buying a used set of car seats far outweighs trying to transfer these mind boggling contraptions from the parent’s car to ours. We have learned that “packing a lunch” of foods we think they will eat makes a lot more sense than a restaurant where there is a good chance the meal will sit on the table. And have you gone to McDonald’s lately? The days of cheap, fast food meals are gone.
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