Saturday, October 24, 2015

Grand Parenting - The Grand Parent Boot-Camp part-I

As the Grand Father of three beautiful children, two beautiful daughters, and a wonderfully talented wife I believe I have enough life experience to share some worth-while reading material to anyone who is about to become one of life's greatest titles - Grand Parent.  Sure it is easy to become a Grand Parent...Have children, raise them, clothe them, furnish them with their every need, send them off to college or careers, attend wedding, and then attend birth of grand child or a special adoption procedure.  Voila - Instant Grand Parent.  See. easy right?  Here are some tips on how to be a better Grand Parent, smooth the bumpy ride a little, and enjoy every second of "Grand Parent-Hood" where its all good in the hood!  What happens at Grandma's stay's at Grandma's.  There is nothing like the love of a Grand Parent - Nothing like the love for a Grand Child.

Let me start off first by saying of course I love my Grandchildren and they are the center of my fragile little world.  But, my Grand Children are not old enough to commit felonies, misdemeanors, or even a parking violation.  I have no experience with what some Grand Parents go through on a daily basis with a young adult Grand Child who may be responsible for a violent death committed during a robbery for example.  Bless their pointed little heads the ones that get on TV and claim "My little Johnny would never do that" or "Not my my Grand Child"?  That is not what this posting is about.  I am talking boot-camp for the impending earned title of Grand Parent.  There is nothing like earning this prestigious virtual badge of honor.  The birthdays, the holidays, the weekends, the dinners, lunches, sleep-overs, the teaching, the creating...and Here we go!

First Introductions:
The birth of a child is a wondrous occasion.  Human life arriving into the family unit is a grand occasion and you must not miss this event as the Grand Parent if possible.  Meeting the little one for the first time brings such joy whether in the delivery room, hospital nursery, or at a home coming.  This event will melt hearts, water eyes, and fill you up with feelings of instant love and devotion.  Not all baby's are beautiful to every one's eyes but your Grand Child is spectacular to your eyes.  After the birth and through the first few weeks of life little baby Grand Child will develop quickly some mannerism's that you cannot afford to miss which will offer some glimpses of future personality traits.  Holding the little bundle of joy for the first time will bring incredible feelings of love, responsibility, and joy.  After the birth of each of my Grand Children I immediately met them and was able to bond quickly.  My thoughts ran a gamut of emotion.  I helped produce this baby, this child is here because of me and my wife.  My parents also had a part of this as well.  We all would not be here if not for the love of our parents for each other who took on the responsibility of giving birth to us, we in turn give birth to our sons and daughters, and thus here are Grand Children.  God is Great! Praise the Lord!


What will you think when you first hold that Grand Child in your arms?  How will those feelings be validated when your Grand Child holds onto you,clings to you for safety for the first time, asks you a question, or maybe the same question over and over again...There will come a time when a Grand Child physically demands your support for the first time and trusts you with their well being.  When that situation occurs you will immediately see the light bulb light up, you may get a chill in your spine, or you will just get affirmation that you are loved, you are trusted, you are depended on for needs of that child.  This trust you earn will come in handy someday.

Instant Love:
Even before the birth of your first Grand Child there will be mixed feelings and confusion.  You have no idea what you are feeling and you will not know until it clobbers you over the head.  What is it?  It is Love.  Before the birth you will observe the pregnancy as it progresses along, the preparations, the celebrations...But, you will have weird feelings?  Will I love this baby?  Can I love this baby like my own children?  What if I don't?  What is wrong with me?  Don't worry.  That is instant love.  You don't know you love that child but you do.  How can you?  The child is in your daughter's or daughter-in-law's body?  You do love that child.  Trust me you do.  You just don't know it yet.  You can't understand it!  There is inner strength derived from this impromptu love affair yet to begin.  When you hold that baby for the first time you will know.  With each Grand Child you will feel it.  The first Grand Child will scare you to shreds.  The second baby will give you feelings of "I can get through this" and "I have experience with this". The birth of the third one will feel strange.  You are confident you love the child even before birth but worry about bonding.  How can you supply love to all these Grand Children...sometimes all at once no less.  Family gatherings with all the children present at the same time can be scary.  Don't worry.  Remember, that instant love comforted you before the birth - it will carry you along and support all your Grand Children with inner strength even when they are all around you.

Sharing the Love:
Spreading the love is not just presents, treats, or materialistic things you give to your Grand Children although you will enjoy immensely doing so.  "Spreading the love" encompasses teaching, supporting, respecting, bonding, and disciplining the Grand Child.  Rewards given to your Grand Child from you are special though.  While teaching children stranger-danger there is a delicate balance of gaining and fostering trust between you and your Grand Child.  Attaining the level of trust that you can give your Grand Children anything and they will trust you that you will not harm them or in the case of medication or health care; it may not taste or feel good but it is necessary. It takes the good parts and the bad parts together to make everything alright.  Let me give you an example.  Grand Son was 4 years old.  A difficult age.  Very active, very aware, and hard to control.  Grand Son got a terrible splinter from the decking outside the house while my wife Leslie and I had him for the weekend.  We tried to get the splinter out of his foot to no avail.  He screamed, he kicked his legs, and cried in pain.  He cooperated as best he could but it was just too much a task for Grandma and Grandpa.  So off to the pediatric clinic we went.  What an ordeal.  It was really bad.  Screaming, crying, fighting, pain, tears on every one's faces.  After the splinter was cut out of his foot the most important aspect of the whole ordeal occurred.  It was so sad.  But, it made me so proud to be a Grand Parent.  The little guy told the Doctor and Nurses he was sorry for screaming and kicking so much but it hurt so bad.  He hugged his Grandma while bandage was applied.  The Doctor had tears in her eyes.  This little 4 year old went through a very painful ordeal and apologized for screaming.  What a good boy.  He trusted us.  He depended on us as Grand Parents to fix his foot.  It broke our hearts to have him go through that.  I was so proud that he was able to respect strangers he knew he had to depend on, show them gratitude, and have so much bravery in  such an ordeal.

What about that Stranger-Danger? Am I a stranger and "The Order of the Secret Hand Shake"!
Here is a valuable tip for the Grand Parent to be.  Stranger Danger is a natural feeling almost all children will develop.  You just don't know at what age they will develop this sense of well being and who from which they will use it to protect themselves.  Develop a Secret Handshake with your Grand Child at an early age.  How early?  Start at 2-3 months old.  Let me give you an example here of secret handshake.   With my Grand Daughter I started a secret handshake when she was weeks old. I count her fingers and toes on each hand and foot.  Then I take her hand and touch each of my fingers when I count to five.   So, when my Grand Daughter was about 8 months old in her own home upon meeting me one evening she had that sense of stranger danger towards me.  Her Grand Mother was holding her in the kitchen area.  Grandma said "Want to go to Grandpa"?  Little darling looked at me and did not quite look like she wanted any part of me.  I put my hands up as if to reach out to her like I have so many times before.  She cried, turned away, and buried her face in my wife's neck.  Luckily, I had the secret handshake.  I took Grand Daughters hand and I slowly counted her fingers.  Upon reaching 4...she turned to me and stopped crying.   I held out my hands again after 5...and she then came to me.  I held her in my arms and she put her head on my shoulder.  That is how Grand Parents melt.  You should develop this technique of your own.  If not counting fingers, identify eyes, nose, ears, hair.  It can even be some special sounds like gentle whistling, clicking, purring, or singing.  It must be a unique combination of gestures and repeat it often especially when meeting the child after an absence of a day or few days. You will never know when you need it but you will need it some time.  I felt terrible she did not trust me for a moment.  But it is a natural reaction for all children.  It is part of their defense system of self protection.  Being able to break through that defense was priceless.  Here is another example.  My youngest Grand Child born Sept. 2015 loves to lay on his Grand Mothers Chest.  Well I don't have that comfy kind of chest.  So at 5 weeks old, I was holding him on my chest and he was fidgeting, fussing, and starting to cry.  I had to come up with something anything to comfort him.  I started Purring like a cat.  A deep purr so my chest would vibrate under him.  He quieted down, relaxed, and fell asleep.  That was priceless as well. 

Nurturing:  What is that?
How as a Grand Parent can I affect nurturing in a Grand Child?   Nurturing a Grand Child is probably the most important aspect of being a Grand parent. It is a life long process.  You will nurture your Grand Child for the rest of your life.  This is the stuff that will make your Grand Child hurt and cry in pain when you pass.  You may have probably observed with your own children and your parents the power of nurturing and the agony of a child losing a Grand Parent who nurtured them along in their life.  Nurturing stems from wisdom.  Wisdom allows us to teach.  Wisdom gives us street cred with our Grand Children.  When we teach and learn them we have a high level of respect.  One - because this is not Mommy or Daddy teaching.  Two - We are not Mommy or Daddy; we are different.  We have the respect of our children and our Grand Children see that.  This further gives our Grand Children affirmation that we are knowing, have valuable lessons, and can affect our Grand Children immensely.  For example; my wife taught our older Grand Son about "Compassion".  Compassion for Mommy, Daddy, Grandpa, Grandma, Family, other people, animals, and nature.  He is a good little boy with a warm heart and caring spirit. I can skateboard.  My 6 year old is amazed.  I can put him on the front of my skateboard and run him down the street with me.  I can do lots of things he can't.  He is amazed.  My wife Leslie has talents he appreciates as well. When he gets a scrape or bruise he knows Grand Ma can fix him up and make him feel better.  He watches, learns, soaks up information and emulates as best he can. With our 2nd Grand Child Leslie taught her "Kitty-Face".  What is Kitty-Face you ask?  Squint your eyes and extend your mouth sideways.  That is Kitty-Face!  Grand Daughter picked up on that real quick.  Now anytime she wants something like a toy, cookie, milk, juice or whatever; she does "kitty-Face" and sometimes repeatedly in rapid succession I might add.  It is so cute and smart.  That is nurturing.  The secret handshake is nurturing as well.

Sadness - Happiness  and Understanding:

Your grandchildren growing up are going to go through periods of happiness, sadness, and hysteria on either side of the emotional scale.  It is important to cope with these swings, manage, control, and nurture at the same time.  Letting little Johnny get away with bad behavior because in a few hours he will go home to his Mother does no one any favors.  Stability, cohesiveness, fairness, and leading by example are so important.  The bad behavior you let the Grand Children get away with even out of apathy will intensify as the child gets older.   Reward, guide,  and counsel your Grand Children through their various stages of development.  Counsel with kindness the bad - reward the good.  The child's mind is like a sponge. Empower them with small wins or accomplishments.  They will respect you and someday they will come through for you.  Here is an example.  My little guy had just turned 5 years old.  He is starting to get really interested in cars, mechanical stuff, engines, how stuff works, etc.  So I taught him how to start a gas powered electric generator.  I brought him outside, Instructed him in the procedure of how to start the machine.  I demonstrated.  Then I asked him to start the machine.  He refused.  He was afraid of the noise.  I told him to do it but the engine will not start because the gas flow will be off.  He demonstrated the procedure for me in a dry run.  Then I asked him to repeat for real.  He did.  He was so excited.  He accomplished it and he felt empowered.  Not more than a month later his Father purchased a generator of different model, color, size, etc.  Little guy was home with his mother and the electricity went out.  He was able to start his Father's generator for his Mother when it really counted.  Now, every couple of months when I test start the generator I have my little guy do it.
When the children hit a low emotional point it is important to respond appropriately as well.  Don't feel inclined to try to give them the world to make them feel better.  They probably just want someone to babble on to, complain to, rant, whatever you want to call it.  Don;t let them be disrespectful or mean but let them vent.  Support but firmly guide them away from mean trash talk and despair.  Kids want guidance and fairness.  Give it to them.  Also, meal time is so important to maintain stability as well.  No toys or electronic devices at the table.  No TV or distractions.  Just nutrition, conversation, and good behavior.  For the best behavior there will be desert.  For bad behavior there is no desert.  Plain and simple.  No screaming, no yelling, no threatening language.

Gather up some tools for success:
Lets face it - kids like to receive stuff as gifts, surprises, and for just whatever reason.  You are the Grandparent. It is your right to reward your little ones.  Don't break the bank though.  Here are some tips to get prepared.  Gather up some art supplies such as paper, paints, craft kits, markers, pencils, crayons, etc..  These are great for when the weather is too bad to go outside.  Shop the clearance sections at hobby and toy stores.  Garage sales are also a good source of stuff.  After Christmas sales, after Valentines sales, etc.  Shop and save the items.  Distribute to the kids when appropriate.  Do the same with sports equipment, fitness, etc.
Kids like the simple stuff but They want interaction and activity.  They love games and play.  They love that interaction right up to bed time.  Get some books that are are relaxing, calming, and have happy subject matter to read.  Read to the kids before they go to sleep during sleepovers.  A  snack, a bath, and some important time together to relax and read is perfect before bed.  Start at young age like two or earlier and continue as long as you can.

Injuries, hurts, sickness oh my:
  It is inevitable; the kids stay for long periods of time and they are going to get injured or hurt under your watch.  Be smart and prepare.  Work out the details before hand about doctor visits if needed, emergency room visits, minor over the counter medication administration and such.  Work out all the high level details with you kids about what to do with the Grand Children in such circumstances.  Obtain a copy of medical insurance cards, note social security numbers, and for long periods of watch like more than 2 days get written documentation from the parents to be able to administer care.  It is called "Loco Parentis".  If you have the Grandchildren and your son or daughter is on extended vacation on a ship or across the prepared.  Leslie wrote an intuitive blog post on "Traveling With Children" on her blog   Take a look to review the post for insightful info on traveling with Grand Children written by a Neonatal/Pediatric Nursing Professional and former School Nurse.

Obtaining the title of Grand Parent is easy.  Being a great Grand Parent is difficult.  I am fortunate to have a great partner; my wife Leslie of  The Grand kids adore her, respect her, and are crazy in love for her.  She is a Pediatric/Neonatal ICU Nurse so that is an added bonus for all in our family.  We all can't be Pediatric Nurses.  But, if you maintain fairness, be practical and stable in your guidance of your Grand Children you will succeed.

Have fun, love your Grand Kids, and don;t be afraid.  Be that Great Grand Parent!

Scott R. Mayorga  A.A.S., BS MT(ASCP)H CLS
@hematech - See more at:
Scott R. Mayorga A.A.S., BS MT (ASCP)H CLS

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