What do you do for your grandchildren?

Post 1 – What do you do for your grandchildren?

A bright sunny day in July seems the right time to begin blogging about the things that are important to me. I hope you will find them of relevance to your life and decide to follow along the path where these irregular posts lead.

My first question, “What do you do for your grandchildren?” brings to mind the gifts my grandparents offered me. Most significant is the life skills I learned from my Norwegian grandmother, my Dad’s mother. She showed me how to knit, to crochet, to embroidery, to make and serve coffee and when I was old enough to manage with my left hand guiding the fabric and the right hand turning the handle, how to sew a simple seam on her hand cranked sewing machine.

We had no electricity there, no refrigeration or roads to the outside world; we were essentially locked in by water and our escape was by water. With her quiet assured manner Grandma Gunhild, who I called White Nano for her silver white hair, made everyday life lessons interesting. Until I was nine years old she was a daily influence on me.

My mother’s mother, Little Nano, was as different from White Nano as she could have been. Short and solid with a wide range of farm and gardening knowledge she taught me the difference between the weeds and the cultivated plants as we moved together along the rows, showed me how to thin beets, turnips and carrots, called upon me to pick the peas and beans and let me feed the chickens and collect the eggs, all life skills in her world but not as significant in mine. My grandfather’s made their own contribution to my knowledge of life but that story is for another time.

Dead now for twenty years, I’ve had some time to think about what my own parents gave to my three children. They came to visit us regularly and were present at every Christmas and family celebration, taking a serious interest in what each of them was interested in and what they were doing. I think the important thing is they were present in their young lives and made a positive impression on it.

In my opinion, perhaps also in the view of the children, Grandma and Grandpa, from the time the child were five or six years old took each grandchild separately for a week of ‘summer holiday.’ My parents had a truck and camper rig in which they went out to the forest back roads for extended periods. Their aluminum boat loaded on top and with assorted gear and games packed away, they managed to successfully amuse each young one they happened to have with them at the time. Some days it was trout fishing, others berry picking, swimming, or exploration hiking along the lake or stream’s edge. Helping with the campfire, cooking on the two burner stove, washing dishes, all became part of what they learned to help with.

The children came home suntanned and dirty from their week away telling stories of the fun they had and the people, and animals, they had seen and met. For us at home that week we were dealing with a different configuration of children and as much as possible took the opportunity to spend time according to their preferences. When the siblings came together again there seemed to be a settling in time during which everyone shared stories about what the other part of the family had missed.

Although what my husband and I will be able to offer will be quite different than what my folks undertook I hope we will be able to offer ‘summer holiday’ time to each of our three grandchildren soon I have spoken to my daughter about it and she enthusiastically agrees with the concept. Other ideas next time . . . .