All posts by joyce

I'm a recently retired teacher and author. Books available are The Latch: An Acadian Adventure (hard copy and ebook editions) and Animal Talk. Visit my website at joycegrantsmith.com.

So Sick

I have been a bad blogger. I know it has been a while since I wrote. But I have an excuse. (I guess all procrastinating bloggers do) .

Since Christmas we have all had the flu and colds. Six weeks of feeling sick. It is bad enough when one of us is ill. But to try to cope with a sick youngster when you can barely crawl out of bed yourself is not cool.

This happened to us 25 years ago. I remember because our daughter was 3 at the time. My husband and I both came down with the flu. The big difference is that we could call my mom and she was able to take the kids for a day. That, and we were 25 years younger at the time.

This year, we were on our own. We basically worked in shifts – whoever could get out of bed looked after things. Not a pleasant way to get through a week.

We survived though. What choice did we have?

I admire single moms so much. How do they do it? Coping day-to-day must be a huge struggle. And then, when illness hits, how do they manage???

Blessing or Tragedy?

When acquaintances learn of my role as grandMOM, there are two basic reactions. Some people express delight. “Oh, how lucky for both of you. You get to spend those precious moments with your grandchild!”

The other reaction is horror. These people see my responsibility as a huge burden. They pass on sympathy as if I have lost a dear relative or friend. Their angst over my loss of freedom is overwhelming.

The truth of my situation is really a bit of both. True, I don’t have the freedom that an Empty Nester enjoys. I can’t pick up and go have coffee or take a weekend jaunt without pre-planning.  Quite a lot of pre-planning.  And the responsibilities are constantly in my face. Anyone who has raised kids understands the enormity of what their care involves. And unlike other jobs, this one is indeed 24/7.  So it is exhausting. (When I was thirty and raising my family, it was exhausting. Now it is exhausting times 3!)

But, I love spending time with my GD. She is lively and funny, smart and interesting. She’s good company. And now I cannot imagine life without her being my little shadow. I feel thankful and blessed to have her with me.

So it those who are horrified that my life is over, I say, “Oh, it isn’t so bad.” And to those who say, “Aren’t you lucky?” I say, “I am. I’m very tired, but I’m lucky.”

 

Mom Friends

I recently had a young mom complain to me that it seemed hard to be accepted into Mom friend cliques. I sympathized. I can relate. I not only am having a hard time being accepted into any young mom groups (who wants an older woman, a mother figure, at your happy coffee party?) , but I feel I am losing touch with my own generation of friends.

My friends are now middle aged and seniors. Many of them are grandmothers. You know, the grandmothers that have their grandchildren visit for a day or two and they spoil them and feed them too many cookies and then send them home with their parents till the next happy visit.

I have been deprived of being that sort of grandmother. I am the parent. The one who has to say, “No” to another cookie. The one who has to insist on good manners, bath time and healthy eating. The one who stays up nights with a sick child and shops with a cranky child and negotiates endlessly with a wily three year old.

Don’t get me wrong. I am blessed to have this little person in my life and I am so grateful she is with me. But my grammy role is not what I had envisioned it would be.

And because I have this different relationship with my GD (granddaughter) I don’t really fit with my peers. I have to get a babysitter when I want some quiet, chat time with my friends. When people come over to visit, there is a very energetic preschooler tearing around the house, interrupting conversations and looking for attention. Travel has taken on another whole dimension of difficulty, so fun trips with friends rarely happen.

I feel some of my friends drifting away. The exuberance of a preschooler wears on their nerves. My hesitation to make evening plans (“let me see if I can get a sitter”) is irksome. I get it. I understand where they are coming from. They have moved on to the part of their lives where they have some freedom and peace and quiet. Their nests are empty and they are enjoying this phase.

But it is isolating for me at a time when I could use all the help and support I can get.

My doctor told me recently that I don’t fit any demographic. Being the odd one out is not a very comfortable place to be.

Rights

If you are a grandParent you are probably discovering some legal roadblocks to raising your grandchild(ren). Grandparents have very few rights when it comes to their grandchildren. The policy in family services and legal minds is that children belong with their biological parents. And while I agree that children should always have time to connect with their parents, there are cases where being raised by their parents may not be the best scenario for them. If it was a perfect world and parents were always great at nurturing their offspring, we grandParents wouldn’t be in the situation of bringing up a second generation.

The legal stumbling blocks can cause frustrations and challenges. Unless grandparents go to court and win custody of the grandchild(ren) – and by the by, that happens very rarely and is a nasty and expensive endeavour – there are things grandParents are not able to do.

If the child needs medical tests  or surgery, grandParents are not permitted to sign the consent papers. Imagine being in a medical emergency situation and facing that reality!

Obtaining a long birth certificate, which is needed to register a child for school, or a passport, which is needed for travel outside of the country, is fraught with difficulties.

Private health insurance will not include a grandchild unless the grandparent legally adopts the child. The legal hoops you  have to jump through for this are huge, and again very expensive. Most grandparents on pension can’t even begin to think about this. However, should the child need braces, medical procedures not covered by health care, or expensive drugs, the grandparents must find the funds somewhere. (Bye-bye RRSPs.)

Now, if things are co-operative and congenial between the parents and the grandparents, things can be worked out. But if that is not the case, grandParents walk a nervous path. In fact, their ability to care for the child at all comes into question.

Some  areas of the country are working on this issue. Lobby and support groups for grandparents are forming and pressuring the government for change. It is slow going though. In most areas, grandparents are still fighting for the right to visit their grandchildren should things be less than blissful between one or both parents and themselves. Divorce often separates grandchildren from their grandparents, and the grandparents have no legal recourse. There is a very long way to go before grandparents are seen as legal  custodians of their grandchildren.

Tot Travels

Having recently made a cross-country trip with a three-year-old, I feel qualified to offer a few tips.

When travelling with a preschooler:

Pack as many toys in the carry-on luggage as you can manage. A toy computer, books, favourite videos, stuffed toys and play doh work well. (Security may have a conniption over the play doh if you don’t include it in your liquid and gels baggy. You can get it in small containers- less than 90ml –  that will work out.) If your child has a favourite sleeping toy or blanket, make sure it goes onto the plane with you. Trust me….you will want it!

Let your child help you pack before leaving. Pick out clothes together. It will make the child feel part of the process and you won’t end up packing an outfit the child has decided is just not what s/he wants to wear anymore.

Talk about the trip in the week before departure. Describe the airport, the plane, security. The fewer surprises the child faces, the fewer melt-downs you will experience.

Give yourself lots of time so you aren’t rushing from gate to gate or stewing because of the line-ups. If you are calm and relaxed, your child will likely  follow your lead.

Most airlines  offer only drinks and snacks during  the flight. It’s a good idea to take some munchies that are more nutritious than pretzels and cookies. Mini muffins, granola bars, cheese and crackers, or trail mix are all easy to put in a purse or backpack to carry on.

Plan  for playtime at your destination(s). Try to find a playground where the child can run off energy and stress. Limit the amount of site-seeing you do so you aren’t dragging the child through too many new experiences in a day. An over-tired and over-stimulated child is not a pleasant travel companion.

Get as much rest as you can whenever you can. If you are over-tired, you won’t be a pleasant travel companion either.

Keep the child hydrated. Offer water or juice often. This helps keep his/her energy levels up and may prevent constipation.

When you get home, don’t plan too many extra activities for a day or two. You will all be jet-lagged and will need time to readjust.

Good luck!! 😉

Cold

Having a head cold is never fun, let’s face it. The stuffed up nose, the sore throat, the headache – a bummer.

But having a cold when caring for a preschooler is challenging. My GD (granddaughter) doesn’t understand that I am slower than usual because I feel like crap. Why don’t I want to play hide-and-seek or chase or go jump in puddles in the rain?

I am fortunate that she likes to do things like read stories together and paint and colour. So at least I can sit down with her for part of the day. Even though what I really want to do is curl up in bed with a hot drink and then doze off.

The saying “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” comes to mind. And then I think of a friend who has battled diabetes his whole life and his comeback to that: “I must be freaking Superman, then!”

Here’s to Super GrannyMom! Upward and onward!

Sleepless Nights

I don’t bounce back from long nights of consoling a sick preschooler. I guess I never found it easy, let’s face it, but it sure is a lot harder at 60 than it was at 30.

When my kids were little, I often was up at night tending them through the flu, colds and other childhood diseases. And then I  would go to work the next day and survive. Now, I don’t have to get myself off to work in the mornings, and I am still dragging my butt around.

Menopause is a factor. I have many nights of interrupted sleep these days, due to night sweats and creepy-crawly arms and legs. So I guess when I have care-giving to do throughout the night, I am already in the red, so to speak. I am working on a deficit, REM cycle wise.

And as much as I hate to admit it, I am not the dynamo I was 30 years ago.

But I manage. What choice do I have, really?

It’s nearly 9:00. Past my bedtime. Good night!

Spelling Bee

My GD (granddaughter) and I had the pleasure of eating lunch with my 87 year old mother today. And by the way, my mother cooked the lunch after she played the organ at her church service in the morning. She’s a amazing lady.

But I digress.

GD was kind of picking at her lunch; she had eaten a late breakfast and wasn’t terribly hungry. After we adults had finished our hodge-podge, my mother looked at me and said, “Would anyone like to have some i-c-e-c-r-e-a-m?”, spelling so if I didn’t want GD to have dessert, it wouldn’t become an issue. However, GD looked up at her great-grandmother and said, “Oh, yes! I do!”

I asked, “What do you think ‘i-c-e-c-r-e-a-m’ is?”

“Ice cream,” GD replied confidently.

GD is 3 and a half years old. You could have knocked my mother and I over with a feather. Our mouths dropped open, and then we both burst out laughing.

And of course, GD got her ice cream.

The smell of roses makes my nose feel very, very, very….cute.

The Best and the Worst about being a Grand-Mom

The Best is watching my GD (granddaughter) grow, develop and discover her world and herself every day. I marvel at each milestone and moment of revelation. She has such interesting insights and she has returned my sense of wonder in the world. I laugh at her funny ways of expressing herself, like the smell of roses makes her nose feel cute. She makes my world a more joyous place.

The worst is the worry. I am concerned about my own ability to keep up. Can I really be all that I need to be for her for the next 15-20 years? Will I be healthy enough, stronger enough, flexible enough to support her as she goes through her early school years, her adolescence, her teens? It is a daunting prospect. I will be in my late 70s before she graduates high school.

I hope and pray each day that I will be able to carry on.

And bask in the glory of her young self in the here and now.

Smelling Roses, Watching Slugs

I never know what the day will bring with my GD (granddaughter).

One day this summer, we stopped and watched a slug crawl across our driveway. For twenty minutes. That is something I would never “have time for” in other circumstances. The fascination for such little things is quite amazing in preschoolers.  My GD has really made me slow down and pay attention to exceptional, but often dismissed, things.

We do a lot of role playing too. On any given day, we might be birds, cats, Dora and Boots, or butterflies. It takes some mental gymnastics to keep up with her imagination.

The other evening at bath-time she announced that she was a bouncy cantaloupe. Where did that come from?

Every day is an adventure.