A Grandparent and grandchildren can create a special bond.
Do you know a grandfather who would respond eagerly to his grandsons invitation to drive cross-country with them? For that matter, how many grandsons would happily invite their grandfather on such a trip? That element of togetherness recently happened in our family and tales from the road tell of an extraordinary experience for all.
It all began a year ago when Art and I invited our children and their families on a family vacation. We chose Big Fork, Montana for it’s beauty and irresistible activities for ages 7 – 70 plus. Next, we challenged each person to identify their activities of choice.
Our three oldest grandchildren, ages 20, 18 and 16, rose to the occasion above all expectations. Not only did they think about what they would like to do there, they started dreaming about how they would get there. Forget those boring air planes. It would, they decided, be more fun to drive and trail their small sail boat from New England to Montana. Next they gave “Pop” the best gift he could have ever received—an invitation to join them.
The trailer idea eventually got left in Connecticut, but the drive came to fruition. Along the way, Art observed how the boys related to and cared for one another—and for him. They shared mutual enjoyment of the Rock ’n Roll, Hall of Fame in Cleveland. In Chicago they “maned” a submarine, climbed in tractors they’d never seen the size of before and Segwayed around part of Lake Michigan. They were also thrilled when the White Sox won the game at Wrigley Field.
Throughout the entire trip, Art enjoyed their energy, their enthusiasm and their skills. He delighted in watching the 6’ 6”, 16 year old leap through the Badlands like a gazelle. Their Internet skills provided great “local eats”, alternative farm roads that added fun and distance and sources of local information. He also saw how they enjoyed one another, despite an occasional need to keep another’s ego in check.
One of the most interesting outcomes of their skillful Internet searches was their discovery of a “Man Cave” for their last night on the road. Finding a dearth of motels in Livingston, MT our sleuths turned to Air B&B. Admittedly Pop had a moment of pause as they pulled up to a steel sided garage hidden down an alley. Nonetheless, the boys assured him it would be perfect—and who was he to question their proven ability?
Complete with air hockey, a pin-ball machine, a pool table, two 51 inch screen TV’s and a bar, but no booze, they had discovered paradise.
What secrets lie behind these steel doors?
I share this with you because it speaks of the best gift we retirees can give ourselves and our grandchildren. Spending time with them in their turf is one of the greatest ways to enjoy their intelligence and value their knowledge. A week later, when we all arrived at our vacation spot, I sensed a deeper and more appreciative relationship between all four of the travelers. The had come to know and appreciate one another more deeply. These experiences will enrich them and bring smiles for the rest of their lives.
If you sometimes wonder why young people do or say certain things, spend time with them and let them show you their world. When we ask questions that matter and respect their answers, we receive the richest gifts we can ever imagine. I know — I see my husband light up every time he recalls something from that week.
Most retirees with grandchildren seek a special bond with them. What’s your favorite way to create that relationship? Just imagine how many grandparents you could inspire by telling your story in the comment section below. Please do!