Being a PG … without Creme de Menthe


Last week an out-of-the-box opportunity plunked down right into my lap. How could I resist?

Here’s how it happened. Two young friends, teachers, with a sweet 5-month-old little boy, were desperate to fill a hole in their weekly childcare schedule. They sounded the alarm to friends and family. Was there somebody with a free Wednesday who could spend the day with little Ross? I remembered my own feelings of Desperation years ago when childcare plans fell through for MY kiddos. And I thought, “Why not?”

I’m not a grandma and I worried that my Skills might be a little rusty. Gulp. But I figured being a Practice Grandma—a PG—couldn’t be TOO dangerous. And I hoped it might be fun.

Well, it was! I was completely taken in by Ross’s wide, happy smile, his total dedication to draining a bottle of milk, his fascination with books, his little body working like crazy to get to that crawly stage. (Not yet. But in a few months!)

At one fussy moment during the day, I thought to take Ross on a little house and family tour. As he bounced in my arms, we walked around slowly and visited all the wonderful photos that his mom and dad have put up throughout the house. We said hello to aunts and uncles, cousins—and grandparents, of course. All of them live fairly close by and are thrilled to spend time with him.

Lucky Ross. Grandparents guarantee great adventures (and a treat or two!), but there’s an even greater benefit: grandparents help “anchor” kids in this great, big world by telling them family stories. This may not immediately occur to you, but it’s huge. Through telling them about YOUR past, kids get to understand that they’re part of a continuum in which they have a dedicated place in a special unit: their own family. They get a dose of history of all kinds—personal, local, national, and world history. Your stories contribute to their sense of security. This, in turn, leads to greater self awareness, self esteem, and self confidence.

Kids are such sponges. You don’t have to wait for them to ask you questions. They’re ready right away to hear all the great stories you have to tell. They get the giggles hearing about their own parents as youngsters, or will sit wide-eyed when you tell them about YOUR childhood sooooo long ago. (HUH!)

If you’re not really sure you’re a good storyteller, no worries. The more you tell, the better you get. And the more you tell, the more you realize that your stories need not go untold. Your audience is sitting right there in front of you.

As they get older, grandkids could work with you on a family history project ( or you yourself could work with a personal historian ( to record your stories.

Being a PG, I thought I might be entitled to tell Ross a few of my OWN stories that day. About MY Grandma’s visits when I was a kid … how she’d arrive with a bag of treats that might include my favorite, non pareils …how she’d put on her apron and fire up the ironing board … how she’d take a mid-afternoon break and sleepily sip away at a tiny glass of creme de menthe … and maybe have another … and how my father would always wonder just what happened to that bottle of creme …

Ross was captivated. And as I told him more, I saw his eyes close and watched him slip into dreamland for a little while. No creme de menthe needed.

 Meanwhile, I settled in to think about the next great story I could tell him when he woke up!