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From early on, implant your voice
in that tiny ear. You'll reap the benefit
for years to come.
From early on, implant your voice
in that tiny ear. You'll reap the benefit
for years to come.

“Great” Grandparenting

457 words


Ideas for developing a lasting and deep relationship with grandchildren
by Dianne Roth


When my first grandchild was born, I just held him, awed by the profound miracle of life. As months went by, I created rituals for him alone. When his brother and a cousin came along, the rituals were shared. Since I would only see them after intervals of time, I wanted them to have memories to connect with me.

It started with phone calls. “Put the baby on,” I would say. They would humor me and put the phone on a tiny ear. I would coo and cuddle with my voice, always saying the same thing. I could calm a crying baby from 3000 miles. My voice became familiar, my words soothing. In person I would use the same voice, the same words. Early on, they knew who I was.

Singing became a ritual. I chose one song that would be “Grandma’s Song”. I sang softly in their ears when they were only months old and have continued singing them to sleep as they have grown. I sing other songs, too. But, Grandma’s song could calm an over-tired birthday boy or close the eyes of a screaming non-sleeper. Held close, with my lips moving against an ear, my voice so quiet, they would settle down in order to hear. It never failed. Now, they sing along with me. They know the words from their earliest memories.

When I arrive at their homes, they know I have brought them nothing. I am not a “toy grandma”. My coming is gift enough.

Sometimes, I bring books, but mostly I read from the collection of books they already have. A true love of reading comes from reading and re-reading the same books over and over. The characters become lasting friends and the music of the language and my voice are imprinted in their brains.

With my first grandchild, living at 7000’ elevation, I discovered that without a fitness regimen, I would not be able to carry my Precious up the stairs. With regular exercise, I can carry these strapping toddlers and keep up with active, growing children who live high in the mountains. We hike, play chase, and walk a mile to friends’ houses. I push swings, hold up bicycles, and spin the merry-go-round 'til they scream. For them, I stay fit.

It is not all spoiling that I do. I always look for opportunities to support the parents in their efforts to tame and socialize. They are well behaved children, so discipline is a small part of our relationship, but a part nevertheless. That may change as they grow. But, for now we play, read, go for walks, sing, and bake cookies. I have even been told, “Grandma, you make the best chocolate chip cookies in the whole world.”


Dianne Roth is a teacher, mother, grandmother, and freelance writer. She lives in Oregon.




Last updated on October 8, 2012