Last week we watched a sweet, humorous 2012 family movie: Parental Guidance.
Bette Midler and Billy Crystal play the unlikely grandparents suddenly called to duty when their daughter accompanies her husband on a business trip and their “go to” sitters – the husband’s parents – have a crisis of their own.
The mishaps begin when Bette and Billy arrive from the airport and their brightly colored toddler gifts indicate their lack of awareness about the grandkids’ ages and interests. It’s a fun movie for all ages – watch it with your kids and your parents!
Here’s what got me musing…
The scene when Bette and Billy first walk into the house and wander through the rooms, pausing to look at shelves laden with family photos. They see many shots of the family beaming while doing activities involving the other set of grandparents. Bette cries out, “Oh no! You know what we are? We’re the OTHER grandparents!” They awkwardly spend the rest of the visit trying to ingratiate themselves with their grandkids.
Hub and I chuckled because we’ve been humming that phrase (in a mostly good way) for nine years – “the OTHER grandparents”.
Let’s face it: family dynamics aren’t easy. Step families and in-laws add extra layers of complexity. A family with both “steps” and “in-laws” is doubly
Thankfully, the jealousies and frustrations Hub and I have experienced pale in comparison to the gratitude and admiration I feel towards my respective OTHER grandparents. They bring immeasurable value to our beloved grandchildren, and I can’t imagine trying to fulfill our roles without OTHER grandparents in the picture.
Sparks (9) and Raqi (8) have three sets of grandparents. We have different lifestyles and interests. Rather than judge the differences, we use this as a living example of choice, diversity, balance and consequence. No matter which set of grandparents Sparks and Raqi are with, they are learning perspective. How fortunate they are.
Hub and I are the “every week” grandparents. We are blessed to be warmly embraced in their home and enmeshed in their regular routines.
We’ve shared midnight feedings, scary shots, scarier fevers, the family flu, 3am nebulizer treatments, first words, first steps, first day at daycare, the birthday hokey pokey, incomprehensible homework, fickle crushes, and – just today – first deodorant.
We take them to the dentist, urgent care, football practice, volleyball games, book fairs, dance class and theater rehearsal.
We ride bikes on trails, swim in pools, throw footballs, jump on the trampoline, shoot hoops at the Y, take them golfing, dance in the living room, scratch their backs and hum them to sleep
Hub and I eat (mostly) healthy food. We try to teach them that how they feel is a direct result of what they eat
We live in a small house filled with books, fitness balls, a yoga mat and a mini trampoline. We hang their art on our bathroom mirror; keep a set of toothbrushes and favorite band aids in “their drawer” and cover our refrigerator with photos.
Grandma S and Grandpa J are the “fun house” grandparents. They have a big house with a game room (pinball & electronics), a home movie theater, a one-lane swimming pool and a jacuzzi. They take the grandkids to restaurants and visit shopping malls to buy clothes, gadgets, stuffed animals and video games.
They own an RV and have taken the grandkids camping and to Disneyland. Several times, they have “come to the rescue” when family emergencies meant unexpected weekend visits from the grandkids.
Papa Choo Choo and Grandma S are the “good old days” grandparents. Papa Choo Choo is a “live close to the earth” guy who loves trains; can build, fix or grow anything; and calls bullshit what it is. Grandma S taught school; raised four kids; practically raised two grandkids; and is the best “down home” cook I’ve met.
They live in a rural southeast Colorado town so small even most Coloradans haven’t heard of it. In summer, Papa Choo Choo holds Boot Camp for all the cousins. Sparks is a proud survivor of his first “deployment”, and has the Boot Camp Survivor t-shirt to prove it. This July will be Raqi’s first time. She is excited beyond words.
Boot Camp starts with a daylong visit to Bent’s Old Fort on the banks of the Arkansas River.
Established in the 1830s, this non-military, well-preserved fort was one of the most significant trading outposts on the Santa Fe Trail because it sits at the crossroads of the north-south Platte River to Santa Fe route and the east-west route that follows the Arkansas River west to the mountains.
After a day at the Fort, Papa Choo Choo will spend a few days putting his recruits through their paces swinging by rope into the swimming hole;
fishing in the “crick” (only city folk say creek); roasting marshmallows over the campfire;
and naming constellations along the Milky Way. In addition to horseshoes and bean bag toss, this year Papa Choo Choo is introducing his pioneer version of A Minute to Win It.
I can only hope it doesn’t involve arrows.