The special bond between grandparents and grandchildren can enrich everyone’s life—even when they become teenagers! One grandmother and her granddaughter reflect on their close relationship at every age.
TEEN | Alexis Gross
I am very lucky to be able to say that I have four amazing grandparents, and I am extremely close with all of them. They are some of my biggest fans and greatest supporters. My Grandma and Grandpa, my dad’s parents, live seven minutes away, and I get to spend a lot of time with them. My Bobie and Papa, my mom’s parents, live in Rochester, N.Y., which is about four hours away. I don’t get to see them as often, but fortunately, we visit each other a lot.
When I Visit My Grandparents
My Bobie and I have always been very close. When I was a little girl, she taught me to read, played along when I asked her to crawl around the kitchen for hours for no reason, cooked for me, bought tons of gifts for me, took care of me, and of course, like most grandparents, spoiled me. Every summer since I was about seven years old, my siblings and I have gone to Rochester for a week or two by ourselves. It is one of the things we look forward to most in the summer.
Our Bobie and Papa let us take over the house and the TV and choose the menu and itinerary. The rest of the year, Bobie comes to every birthday party, show, and special occasion, even if it means waking up in the middle of the night to take the four-hour train ride from Rochester to Cleveland. To her, distance is just a number, and family comes first.
As most teenagers get older and busier, getting together with their grandparents may seem like an inconvenience. When people say things like, “Ugh, I have to try to get out of dinner at my grandparents’ tonight,” it always shocks me. My time with my Bobie is something I look forward to and wish I had more of. Unfortunately, as I’ve gotten older, my schedule has become so busy, and when she and my Papa come to visit, I don’t have as much time to spend with them.
When I was younger, we spent hours talking about my friends, my school, and everything going on in my life. No matter what I was talking about, I always knew my Bobie would care and enjoy listening and talking with me. When she wasn’t in Cleveland, I would call almost every single day to fill her in on everything.
Now, we don’t get to have these talks as much anymore, and long phone calls have turned into brief texting conversations. But this doesn’t mean that these conversations are no longer important to me. And even with my busy schedule, newer technology, and 258 miles between us, nothing will stand in the way of our extremely close relationship. I am so lucky to say that my Bobie is one of the most special, caring, and amazing women that I have in my life, and that I can call her one of my best friends. And I know that this will never change.
Alexis Gross, 16, is a junior at Solon High School who enjoys singing, performing, and spending time with her family and friends.
GRANDPARENT | Deanne Levy
I was fortunate to have an early bonding experience with my granddaughter because I was present at the miracle of her birth. I saw the cord cut, and I heard her first cry. We stayed three weeks and I fed, dressed, rocked, and sang to her. But there would be a problem. I had to leave. She’s in Ohio, and we live in New York State. I began to worry. “How will she know me?” We all traveled back and forth for holidays and birthdays. I still worried. I might not know her favorite cereal, might not be there for a school program, or a recital or Grandparents Day.
When I was with her, I read to her and played paper dolls, games, and Barbies. She made me walk on my knees, and we laughed. I made her a Play Doh “glass slipper,” and she took off her sock and put her little foot into it. I taught her to read with “Dick and Jane.” We took a Disney trip, and she slept in my room. Can you feel my smile? Yes, it worked. A long-distance relationship is a challenge, but not impossible.
Bonding With Grandchildren In The Summer
When Alexis was around 7 or 8, the best thing happened. She could come for a week in the summer without parents. Her close-in-age adorable brother came too. “Camp Bobie and Papa” was born. I knew her favorite everything! I took her to movies and lunch and the library. We went to museums and the amusement park. We’d cuddle at night and talked about everything. We made shadow puppets on the wall. My long living room couch was the “camp bus.” Each morning, we boarded and planned the day. She always picked the same activities.
Once I asked, “Alexis, don’t you want to something different?” Her answer was, “No, Bobie! These are our memories!”
Last April she turned 16. I waited anxiously. She has been coming every year. She was now a camp counselor and had a driver’s license. I would understand. I’m laughing now as I remember her saying, “Bobie, of course I’m coming! I arranged my schedule!” She and her brother wanted their younger sister to have the same experiences and memories, so we still did the same things—even the couch bus.
The arrival of the teen years brought a new challenge … technology. iPhones and iPads came to camp to coexist with “Bananagrams” and “The Game of Life.” I recognize this need, like our radios and comics. But it doesn’t replace our time. Alone time is always arranged.
This year Alexis turns 17. She has a car, several jobs, and an upcoming trip to Israel. I am up for the challenge of our new “adult relationship.” We have our memories. Our bond is forged. A grandmother/granddaughter relationship is the very best at any age.