Andrew is not quite 3 years old. We skype and facetime every couple of weeks. He has four other long distance grandparents plus a huge fan club of friends of the family.
Elissa, my daughter repeats Andrew’s question, as if I didn’t hear it the first time. "He wants to know when you are coming back to visit." I knew what Andrew had asked; I just didn’t believe my ears. He wants me to come back to visit.
I’m touched deeply by his question and his desire for me to return. This is like an invitation from the King. Obviously, I don’t take this relationship as a grandparent lightly. But, I’m caught off guard. "Yes! I’ll be back to visit you in the winter." Andrew looks at me on the computer screen as if this means it will be very, very soon. Its three long months for me!
Grandparenting is a lot of things “ mostly made up in the minds of grandparents. What we are is a biological unit that produced offsprings, who produced offsprings. That’s all we are. The rest is context “ interpretations, assumptions and expectations made up by us, our children and their children.
Driving into Eastsound, on Orcas Island, my home, thousands of miles away from Glasgow, Scotland, where Andrew and his parents live, I think a lot about who I am as a grandparent. What’s my role in Andrew’s life? What do I want from this relationship? What do I have to offer, living so far away? He doesn’t have a clue about what to expect from a grandparent. Me and the others; we are just people with names like Granny, Nannie, Gramps and Grandpa. He doesn’t know that it means the world to us to have him say those words out loud, to the right person at the right time. Who we become to him, overtime, will depend on how we show up and engage with him. Again, I ask myself “ how do I want to be as a grandparent for myself and for him. Here are my top four ways to show up as a valued grandparent, as of today:
1.) I want to reflect to Andrew the preciousness of his presence “ that who he is, is a gift to the world. I engage with him, not as a prince, to whom I bestow many gifts, but as a little boy, whose presence brings wonder, innocence and imagination into my world. I’m playful and present so as not to miss a moment of connection. I’m not trying to do anything or get anything. I’m wanting to experience the fullness of me and of him in the rare moments we have together.
2.) I want to be active and engaged physically when I’m with Andrew. In August, during a visit to Scotland and to a wonderful castle with a lovely slope down to Loch Lomond, it was a chance to show Andrew the skills of rolling down hills. Hopefully he would follow. See the video. It was an OMG experience for me! It had been decades since I rolled down any hills. I stopped rolling, but the world kept spinning for many moments afterword, and it took a day for my tummy to return to normal. But, the delight of being all of me, at 61, rolling down the hill, then having Andrew follow afterwards was just too much fun. I want a lot more of that!
3.) I want Andrew to know that I will always try to see him in his truest essence of being; that I will respect his unique desires and wishes as best I can, and enjoy witnessing him on his own personal journey through this lifetime.
4.) Lastly, at this moment, I want to be the kind of grandparent that he comes to with those questions that he just can’t trust to anyone else. What does it take to be this kind of grandparent?
I have some work to do, no doubt, to remain active, playful and present, but this is one relationship that is worth all the effort and energy it takes. See you soon, Andrew!
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Check out the book: Cultivating Spirituality in Children: 101 Ways to Make Every Child’s Spirit Soar. Its a great book for Grandparents!
Who is Dr. Rosie? Dr. Rosie Kuhn is a preeminent thought leader in the field of Transformational Coaching and Leadership Development. She is available for Speaking Engagements, Coaching Sessions for Individuals, Organizations and Executives, as well as Trainings. Her books can be found at Amazon.com. And, be sure to check out many of her other blogs as www.theparadigmshifts.com.
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