We’re not sure how our oldest grandchild morphed into a social seven-year-old, but it caught us off-guard. Her maturation snuck by us so quickly. To our hearts’ discontent — gasp — she now prefers playing with her friends over hanging with her grandparents.
We have two choices: 1.) wallow in self-pity, mourning the passing of the once-glorious moments she clung to our legs in worship or 2.) thank God for those memories and revel in her marvelous, normal development.
We chose Door #2.
Really, she hasn’t outgrown us. She’s simply distracted. Staying present amongst the diversions in our grandchildren’s lives will simply require more creativity. So, my husband and I formulated a strategic plan, incorporating a tradition of semi-annual Grandpa and Grandma “dates” when each of our grandchildren will be the center of our universe.
During our first official date, our granddaughter (Ms. Social) selected dinner at A&W Root Beer and shopping as her excursion. She held our hands and skipped, often lifting her feet, so that we could swing her through the air. To encourage selflessness — and because children are starving in Bangladesh (we are cheapskates) — we took her to the dollar store to shop for her siblings. We worried she would consider us miserly. Instead, she glowed, as if she had inherited a treasure. She carefully searched out the perfect stuffed animal for her toddler brother, an art apron for her pre-school sister, and window decals for her kindergartner sister.
She brought her own money to purchase eye glasses for her nearsighted doll. We helped her do inventory of her pennies and nickels and Grandpa slipped in some extra change to cover her selection.
She declined amusement park rides, getting sidetracked by an ice cream/cookie sandwich.
When we dropped her off at her home she proudly distributed her gifts — a consolation for the formerly sad siblings who wanted to go on the first first date.
While we admired her admiring her bespectacled doll, Ms. Social whispered, “I love you, Grandma. I love you, Grandpa.” This led me to skip–even though Grandpa couldn’t swing me when I lifted my feet.
Since then, we’ve decided to be proactive with our grown children and our friends as well — diligent in designing more quality interaction rather than hoping the moments will spontaneously occur.