For grandparents, educators, and anyone who has ever loved a grandparent, you will likely appreciate this heartwarming guest post by Judith Frizlen. She kindly shares her experience on what grandparents and grandchildren can learn from one another, a topic that she explores in the memoir Where Wisdom Meets Wonder: Forty Stories of Grandma Love. I hope you enjoy this look at learning from one another at different stages in life.
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Sharing life with grandchildren: When everyone is learning (Guest post)
I became a grandma about four and a half years ago. But three years ago, my grandson suggested a name change. I was told that our grandchild would have a name for me, but I did not imagine it to be true. This was not the case with my generation.
Yet our firstborn grandson decided grandma did not fit with Opi, the name his German-born grandpa called himself. He started calling me Opi too, so, we modified it.
In a blink of an eye, I became Omi and I have embraced the name as much as the role. Of course, Omi and Opi are a team, in a way that Grandma and Opi are not.Lesson number one from the grandson; we needed to not only act like a team, but to sound like one, too. And the second grandson followed suit since he was introduced to Team Omi and Opi from the beginning.
Ok, I got it. I also got great joy hearing the little guys refer to us as Omi and Opi, as in waking up on Saturday mornings and asking, “Is it an Omi and Opi day?” Most weekends, we pick up the grandsons to spend time together, sometimes including a sleepover.
In the summer, we go to the lake house where we immerse ourselves in nature. We love spending time relaxing while the children discover things, and we remember the joys of being in the present moment.
At the lake house, I learned a no fuss environment creates a more relaxing experience for everyone. And it’s a joy watching a chipmunk scurry about the patio looking for scraps of food left under the boys’ chairs. Also, picking blackberries is worth the risk of getting scratched by a thorn or wearing a life vest by the water allows for a spontaneous paddle boat outing. It was about learning to balance safety and freedom at the lake.
While listening to the birds, we learned to identify the calls of an owl, woodpecker, and crow. There’s such wonder in the sensory experiences in nature! I had forgotten how fun it is to watch and listen for birds. Learning from the boys, I have rediscovered the joys of paying attention to everything that lives in our surroundings from tall trees to tiny insects.
At the playground, I learned to tuck away my fear while watching the boys climb the ladder to go down the big slide. Neither one of them tried to do it before they were ready. So, I stood by marveling at what they were able to do, waiting to catch them at the bottom of the slide. Their gross motor skills were developing faster than my ability to adapt, so I had to hurry to catch up. So fun that we are all learning together!
Over the summer, they learned to swim, fish, tie and untie the boat onto the shore, and to tread the uneven path around the lake without tripping. Their balance is good, and I am working to keep mine good as well. Not only the physical skill, but to stay balanced in my being, as in slow and steady, confident, and careful.
The boys get hungry at the lake, and they also get tired from all the fresh air and activity. Since they wake up early, it’s wise for us to go to bed early as well. We gave up watching the sunsets and stars to enjoy the sunrise in the morning. We would rather be rested when the early wake-up call comes and as delighted with watching the sunrise as the boys are.
Together, we are learning how much fun it is to visit the Farm Store to buy produce and freshly baked cookies on our way to the lake. We linger at the store, nibbling our cookies on the porch, and getting to know the people and the farm animals. It’s become a familiar ritual that adds to the joy of going to the lake house.
Before leaving, we remember to thank the farmers, animals – even the bees that give us honey – and the earth that nourishes us all. It is true that gratitude, a playful spirit, fun adventures, consistent rhythms, and lots of love help everyone connect, learn, and grow together.
That’s what Grandma love is all about.
About author Judith Frizlen
Judith Frizlen is a writer, teacher, mother, grandmother, and founder of the Rose Garden Early Childhood Center. An advocate for young children and everyone who cares for them – she is a champion of play.
Judith likes to go on adventures with her husband – whether traveling, kayaking, hiking, bicycling, or just strolling through the local park. Her books include: Unpacking Guilt: A Mother’s Journey to Freedom; Words for Parents in Small Doses; and Words for Teachers and Caregivers in Small Doses.
Her newest book is Where Wisdom Meets Wonder: 40 Stories of Grandma Love. Follow Judith Frizlen’s blog today.
About Where Wisdom Meets Wonder
How often do we hear the term “old” used to reference a state of diminishment? Where Wisdom Meets Wonder is a memoir that aims to turn that idea on its head, celebrating the wisdom years through the happy ways in which aging allows us to revisit the wonders of childhood. The child is alive and well inside all of us.
While Where Wisdom Meets Wonder speaks to readers who have moved into the Third Act, it also calls out to parents of young children. These stories will give parents a reassuring glimpse of what’s to come.
With joy and a reaffirmed sense of personal worth, Judith Frizlen seeks to change older people’s perspectives. She hopes these pages will inspire you to take on a beautiful new role as you step into the Third Act of life.
Are you a grandparent? What have you learned from kids lately or taught them?