Author’s Note: This article it is all Linda, with Richard cheering her on from the sidelines—more for Granddads next week.
Editor’s note: This is the seventh in a series of Meridian Articles to and about grandparents. See the first six articles at 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. A new article runs each Tuesday. Richard and Linda, who spend more and more of their time these days writing and speaking to Grandparents, would appreciate your feedback (via comments) on each of these articles.
We love your inputs! Here are a couple of questions to respond to by commenting on this article: 1. Do you have any special, traditional times each year that you spend with your grandkids? 2. How important is it to help form “cousin bonds” between your grandchildren?
Looking back over my twenty plus years of Grandmothering, I’ve realized that the best investment of my time, and the most fun I’ve had with our grandchildren has been through what I have called Grammie Camps. They have become a way to create lasting relationships and treasured memories with our grandchildren.
In preface, I must say that every grandparent/grandchild relationship and situation is different. I’m pretty sure not many readers will have thirty grandchildren who live from Zurich and London to New York City and Hawaii—and because they are so spread out, I try to cram in a lot during the two weeks we are all together each summer, and the key to it all is Grammie Camps!
The kids are invited to come to Grammie Camp the year they turn five and we look forward to those times together all year. I have tried a lot of ideas to make our time together memorable. If you’re up for it, pick and choose from the smorgasbord of ideas below that might fit the needs and ages of your own grandchildren. Or even better, use some of these suggestions as a springboard to create your own ideas, depending on your circumstances.
Here are a few things that have worked for me:
- “Happys” and “Sads”. Even our oldest grandchildren like to share the happiest and saddest things that have happened to them since the last time we met. We learn a lot about each child as they share hard and good things that have transpired in their lives. There is real empathy as well as rejoicing as they share both the fun and the hard things in their lives.
- Talent Show. For years the “talent” was pretty marginal, but as the years passed, unique abilities manifest themselves.The talent ranges from great piano and violin solos to amazing demonstrations of the use of the Kendama and the putting together a Rubik’s Cube in one minute flat!
- Work. In today’s world, work for children is often a forgotten art. I come from a long line of hard-working farmers whose children had to work to survive. Luckily our Summer place always has plentiful weeds. I have loved teaching the kids to feel the satisfaction of making an area of the earth more beautiful by clearing the weeds. Of course, some ice cream at the end of a project is nice but the satisfaction of doing something hard with their cousins is the best reward.
- Dancing. The younger groups love to dress up and dance. We have a chest of dress-up clothes for both girls and boys and a place to dance to beautiful music that matches the mood. There nothing that shows personality more than dancing to great music!
- Art. I love art, and we have had a great time looking at beautiful classical artwork and then painting our mountains and lake in the style of the artist we have been studying (for example the pointillism of Seurat and the impressionism of Monet and Renoir).
- Scriptures and Quotes: I compile favorite quotes and scriptures and am amazed at how good the kids are at memorizing them. I like the idea of having those good thoughts rumbling around in their heads throughout their lives.
- Music. I was a music major in college so in recent years I gathered a list of my favorite classical music and sent it via email to the parents of all the grandkids from ages 5-17 on Spotify (ask your grandkids if you don’t know how to do that). I offered a cash reward for recognizing each composition and another one if they could name the composer during a contest at Grammie Camp. Money was a terrific incentive and a good investment for a music-loving Grammie who wants her kids to love music!
Our first list, which is pretty kid friendly was:
1. Aquarium by Camille Saint Saens
2. Peter and the Wolf by Serei Prokofiev
3. Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 by Johann Sebastian Bach
4. Clair De Lune by Claude Debussy
5. Symphony No.9 (Ode to Joy) by Ludwig van Beethoven
6. “Spring” from the Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi
7. Star Wars by John Williams (this was by far, the favorite)
8. Rodeo by Aaron Copland
9. Flight of the Bumble Bee by Rimsky Korsakov
10. Morning Mood by Edvard Grieg
- Ancestor Stories: As discussed in great detail in our column here two issues ago, the value of teaching our children about their ancestors is enormous. Knowing stories about the lives of those who came before them gives them resilience and grit. One year, in advance of Grammie Camp, I assigned each of the kids the name of an ancestor to research online (with their parents’help) at familysearch.com or ancestry.com. Then, each child actually “became” that ancestor during our time together—dressed up like them and presented what life was like for them when they lived.
Of course, through the years, there are also precious one-on-one times spent with each of our grandchildren that neither of us will ever forget but I realize that this group time in Grammie Camps pays real dividends every time I hear from one of our twenty-year-olds reminding me of how our relationships with each other were deepened and solidified during those glorious times we spent together at Grammie Camps.
Richard and Linda Eyre’s parenting and life-balance books have reached millions and been translated into a dozen languages. As fellow Baby Boomers, their passion and their writing focus has now shifted to the joy of Grandparenting. Linda’s latest book is Grandmothering, and Richard’s is Being a Proactive Grandfather, each of which is now on sale on Amazon or in Deseret Book.
The Eyres have 31 grandchildren and counting, so they have an ample laboratory to test their grandparenting ideas. Their Mission Presidency in London also resulted in another 500 “children” so if you count the children of those missionaries, Richard and Linda may actually have thousands of grandchildren. At any rate, they want to share thoughts from you and hear thoughts back from you, so please comment on this and future articles. To learn more about what Linda and Richard are doing, go to www.TheEyres.com.