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Notes from a Nanny Granny

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RoseRed135

Pokiemon! (Spelling?)

Not sure if I'm spelling the name right, but DGS and many of his friends are really into Pokiemon. He takes his cards w/ him everywhere that his mom will let him! He and the friends I mentioned love o trade, share, play "battles" w/ and even just talk about Pokiemon cards! :)

IMO, it's a plus and a minus. The upside is this kid who used to kind of drag his feet getting ready for school or even his favorite extracurriculars, now gets dressed/changed in a flash, sometimes, amazingly, before his very punctual (yes!) sister! All, no doubt, b/c of Pokiemon!

The downside is the frenzy that ensues if one of the kids loses/can't find a card.  YDD generally limits the number of cards DGS can take w/ him anywhere to minimize the chance of losing them and stem any possible drama.

But when I see him all ready for me to take to school - early - and hurrying into the schoolyard, well, I guess it's worth it! :):db::)

RoseRed135

Winter Through My Grandchildren's Eyes

Me (if I wake up in the morning to find that it has snowed a lot): Ugh! Now I'll have to shovel out my car! Well, at least, I'm sure the kids will have some fun in it.

My DGC (on the phone or when I see them):" Gramma, it snowed! We're going to build a snowman (or make "angels" or go sledding, etc.)"

Me (if I go out in the morning to find ice on my car windows); Ugh! Hate having to stand here scraping ice off in the cold. I'm going to try go defrost it all away.

My DGC (on the phone or when I see them): "Gramma, guess what?! There were snowflakes on our car windows this morning!" (frozen snowflakes, I suppose).

I love the way my DGC bring back to me the joys of winter! :)

RoseRed135

Times Tables - Are They Back?

DGD's grade at school recently had a "Multiplication Bee" (like a Spelling Bee, but w/ times tables). Apparently, they have learned the multiplication tables, by heart, all the way through the 12s. She asked me to study w/ her, one day, while I was watching her and DGS (flash cards - 1st straight through each table, then mixing it up). And I'm proud to say she knows it all very well (though the 7s, 8s and 12s give her a little trouble :)).

What I was especially glad to see, however, is that they are learning the tables this way, at all. As I recall, my DDs didn't though, no doubt, they did learn to multiply. Ok, I guess the fact that my DDs got to know their multiplication facts, anyhow, shows that doing "tables" isn't exactly necessary. But, IMO, it's good for their basic foundation in math. At any given moment now, I can ask DGD, say, "What's 5 x 6" and she'll answer "30," just like that, etc. IMO, that's a good thing.

Is this part of Common Core now? I don't think so. To my knowledge, CC provides a set of standards for math and English/language arts, not any specific methods of teaching them. So it may just be my state, city, school district or the school, itself, that decided to teach multiplication this way. IDK.

I'm just glad the times tables are "back." But, no doubt, I'm wondering if other people are seeing the same in other schools, states, etc....

RoseRed135

Dolls

DGD loves her dolls! Given the time, she can play with them for hours! And I think it's wonderful! It's a joy to hear her ( to the degree that I can make out what she's saying/doing) play that she's their "Mommy," teacher, doctor or take them on some imaginary adventure or other! :)

I don't recall taking this much pleasure in overhearing my own DDs play with their dolls (though I do know I enjoyed hearing them play something together, as I do DGD and DGS). Maybe I was too busy. Or had my mind on some of the other aspects of my busy schedule. Or perhaps I was too worried about the possible effects on body image of some dolls, etc. Or maybe I was just too impacted by DM's and MIL's critcism that they had "too many dolls," even though DH and I didn't think so.

As a nanny granny, I'm still busy and still have a lot on my mind (so scratch those as possible differences). But I don't seem to worry, anymore, about the possible effect of this/that doll. Nor do I concern myself with whether or not DGD has "too many." Perhaps it's b/c her toys and how they may or may not affect her is not at all my responsibility, this time around, the way it is her mom's/my YDD's.

Then again, ODD aggravates over these issues when she thinks about them. In fact, this past Christmas, all the gfits on DGD's list were dolls and we each gave her at least one (including "Santa"/YDD). ODD and SIL got her a couple of dolls, as well. But ODD told me she felt conflicted about getting her still more toys that were so specifically slated for girls/not more gender neutral.

So maybe the difference has something to do with age/stage of life? Or perhaps with the fact that I have less energy than I did as a mom and am just glad when my DGC find activities that fill their time? (Then again, I know parents can feel that way, too, sometimes.) Or maybe b/c I don't see where any doll - or the number of them - actually hurt either of my DDs, in any way (not making light of anyone else' concerns) and so, I'm more relaxed about it?

All I really know, here, is that DGD loves her dolls! And I think it's wonderful! :)

RoseRed135

"Why don;t you want to be involved?" my friend asked, somewhat bewildered.

This struck me very funny, actually, b/c it was about my DGC. As many of you know, I'm very involved with them, watching them, for a few hours, several times a week! :)

But this was about something my friend thought YDD should be doing with them (I'm not going to say what for reasons of privacy). And to me, trying to weigh in there would be "interfering," not merely, "being involved."

We've had this conversation b4 and my friend says my attitude doesn't make sense to her. "Up till recently," she reminds me, "you were doing a lot of childcare. And it's clear you've had an influence on DGD and DGS" (nice to hear, I admit, though, as my friend she may be biased:)). "Why do you stop short of being involved in the decisions?"

"That's why I stop short at the decisions," I've told her, more than once (well one of the reasons, anyway) "b/c I have been very involved and still am, to a great degree. I don't want to go too far and cross any lines that I shouldn't."

Then she stares at me or shakes her head, not really understanding. And I change the subject, not wanting to get into it, any further.

Funny thing is, I don't even necessarily agree with my friend's opinion on childrearing, much of the time. Often, my thinking it much more in line with YDD's. But regardless, I wouldn't try to change YDD's mind. And if I tried, I know exactly what YDD would say, "They're my kids! Stop interfering!" It wouldn't accomplish anything, except to cause tension where there didn't 'have to" be any.

For that reason, among others, I have no intention of trying to have a voice in the choices YDD makes, even on those occasions where I disagree with her. But I realize that my friend sees the scenario differently than I do. And looking back, perhaps so did my mom and MIL. Perhaps they didn't see themselves as "interfering" when they tried to weigh in... maybe they thought they were just being loving and "involved" GPs...

Then again, MIL did admit to me once that she did, indeed, try to "interfere' (her word) in DH's and my marriage and childlearing. B/c, as I've said previously, in the forums, "I know him (meaning DH) longer than you do! Why shouldn't I have a say?!"... Sigh...

But what I'm thinking now is that there are clearly different POVs on this... Like anything else, one person's "interference" is another's "involvement" and vice versa. And, I suppose, to still another person, it's "interference" but it's "ok."...

RoseRed135

Another Kind of Shift

In a recent entry, I talked about how hard it can be, as nanny granny, to keep the line between my DD and me in sight when I'm so much a part of her and my DGC's lives. I've also spoken before about changes in my caregiving role. But here, I want to talk about another change - one that's very natural, I think, but that doesn't make it any easier to see where the boundaries are, either - shifting relationships with the DGC! Until the last year or so, DGD was very attached to me, so much so that I worried that it might hurt DD's feelings though she (DD) seemed to brush it off. DGS, on the other hand, was way more into "Mommy" than "Grammy," and, in fact, perhaps that's what made it easier for DD to accept DGD's attachment to me.

So you'd think we had it all figured out for, at least, the next several years. Though they loved us both, of course, and I've never thought of myself as the "2nd mom" or anything like that, DGS was, more or less, "Mommy's boy" while DGD was "Grammy's girl," at least as far as we women were concerned (I could write a whole other entry about the dads and "Grampas" - maybe I will, sometime). But, gradually, over this past year, DGD has become "all about Mom." Due to her somewhat erratic schedule, some days, DD takes the kids to school and some days, I do - but on the days that it's me, DGD always complains, "I want Mommy!" DGS, to the contrary, though he still adores DD, has become more clingy where I'm concerned, even asking me to stay in their home when they're not there!

Not that I expect their new attitudes to become set in stone. Those will shift, again, I'm sure - and again - as time goes on, I become less and less of a presence in the children's lives and their world widens more and more to embrace friends and classmates, etc. as well as family. The one constant, for me, is my love for them - that, of course, will always be there!

RoseRed135

Changing... And Changing Again

Change has played a big part in my experience as a nanny granny. First, of course there was the major shift in priorities, etc., as I went from the mother of adult DDs (dear daughters) to a main caregiver for my 1st grandbaby. And more change followed, as I learned about new rules and practices in childcare, etc, as I said in a previous entry.

Change again - as YDD (the mom) married and had another child. During that time, my services were often needed a little less, for obvious reasons.

And change again - In time, the mariage went downhill and ended, unfortunately, in divorce. During that time, YDD tended to lean on me more than usual. After a while, we had to do some renegotiating.

But change again - she and the kids began to need me less again, as DGD went off a few days a week to preschool and summern camp. And then, even less so, when DGS started spending a few days at camp, too.

And then change again - the biggest change since the initial one - Both kids began attending fulltime school/camp, 5 days a week. Now I've had to reorder my priorities and reorganize my time, once again... And then, just as I get settled into a new routine... one of the kids gets sick or along comes a vacation..I know it affects YDD, as well, and I guess I went through the same kinds of changes when I was a young mom, myself... but it seems, somehow, stranger now (YDD says "No," however, b/c it took her some adjusting, too, and that I probably just don't remember... could be).

But here's the good part... I'm enjoying the greater amount of time I have for my home, DH and myself - and I'm all the more excited about it when I do get to be with the kids (which is still several hours a week, just not as many, each day)! In fact, my favorite part of each weekday is when I see their little faces "at 3 o' clock.!"

Future Change - But, of course, I know this is just a little taste of the changes to come, as they get older, enter their teens, and have less interest in "Grammy." Hmmm... guess I'm very lucky to get to enjoy them now, as much as I do! :)

RoseRed135

The Blurry Line

One of my greatest challenges as a nanny granny has been that of seeing that fine line between GP caregiver and parent. After all, I do/have done many things with my DGC (dear grandchildren) that a parent does. I have often fed, dressed/helped dress and, depending on the schedule, even bathed my little granddolls. And yes, sometimes, when they were infants, I was the one "walking the floor" at night with a crying baby (or, at least, waching them in the baby swing:)). I definitely have not been just a GM who comes and goes in a few hours.

I also have more influence on them, IMO, than I might have, otherwise. In fact, no doubt, they have each picked up certain phrases, habits, even, maybe quirks of mine. (Their mom/ my YDD - younger dear daughter - isn't crazy about this but, I'm afraid, it can't be helped.) Also, as I mentioned in my last entry, I've had an impact on their bond as brother-and-sister (this one YDD appreciates). And as I've said, too, she and I both agree that I'm around them enough that I need to discipline them just as she would.

It's hard, sometimes, though, knowing when to step back. Or rather, I know to step back when YDD is present but, now and then, it's just a knee-jerk reaction for me to say, "No, you can't have another cookie" or "Do you need a time out?" And, to be honest, YDD didn't make it much easier, early on. For a long time, she vascillated between wanting me to take a backseat when if she was there ("Mom, I'll handle it!") and wanting me to deal if she were tired, I guess ("Mom, dooo something!"), even just as I was (supposed to be) leaving! There were periods where she leaned more in one direction and periods where she leaned more in the other.... sigh...

Finally, I called it to her attention. I told her that I thought she should do the disciplining if we both happened to be there but if she preferred I handle it, she needed to let me know. (Not that my DGC are so difficult! Mostly, they're very well-behaved, largely I'm sure b/c YDD is, in fact, very good at discipline.) Actually, she found she was quite conflicted about this and it took her a few days to give me an answer. But in the end, she decided that she would deal with any behavior issues, under those circumstances. Then it was just a matter of my having to remember she made that decision and pull back when necessary - still not always easy but better when I knew her POV.

Speaking of decisions - The one thing I don't get to do as a nanny granny is make any of the major ones. I may make some small, daily choices when YDD isn't there, such as whether to offer the DGC juice or milk, etc. (no worries, I always work w/in YDD's rules, etc.). But the big decisions are all hers (and the dads when either one is invovled). I must admit, though, that being so close to the picture often makes it hard not to weigh in. Usually, I like YDD's choices, but, now and then I disgree. And it has sometimes, been hard not to feel as if I'm "supposed to say something," even if I'm not. I knew how much I resented it when my own DM (dear mom) or MIL did that, yet, here I was, feeling as if in my case, it was "different."

Thank goodness for GP.com and this Community section! Here I came to realize that, if anything, as a GP caregiver, I need to watch the boundaries even more carefully! There were just too many opportunities for overstepping them, inadvertently disrespecting YDD as a parent and causing friction between us! Here, too, I learned how to tell the difference between what really was my concern and what was not. If YDD made a decision, for example, that meant I would have to give more of my time, that made it my issue, too, and I had a right to say something about it. But if she chose to, say, use the nursery school bus when I thought her child should be driven to school, that was not my concern, even though I might feel concerned about it. (Actually, I now think it's great but that's besides the point.) This understanding has probably saved us from a number of arguments and tensions. It's one of the main reasons why I love this site!

RoseRed135

Drawbacks and Rewards

As the saga of my nanny grannying continued, I discovered there were many pluses and minuses. The minuses are easy to count off... Less time for socializing with friends, other family and even DH... Less chance for DH and me to travel, as "just us" (we've taken a few short, weekend trips, gone to a couple of out-of-town weddings, but that's it, except for vacations with extended family)....Less chance to be that GM who "spoils the kids and sends them home" (or goes home herself). YDD and I decided, early on, that I needed to implement the same discipline as she would. After all, since the kids were going to be with me a lot, I needed to be able to control them, for safety reasons. And I was bound, we both agreed, to have some influence on their attitudes about "the world."

Then there's that other problem - the fatigue! Almost every GP caregiver I know find themselves exhausted at the end of a day (or evening) of "grandchildcare" and I'm no exception! (Somewhere, in Grandparents Caring for Grandkids, we have 2 whole threads dedicated to this issue, alone!) It's a matter of "happy-tired," no doubt, but tired, just the same! Perhaps, someday, Future Reader, if you're there the world will have a safe and healthy energy pill or drink that GPs and other older relative caregivers can use to help them avoid this syndrome. But, for now, most such caregivers that I know, just except being "always exhausted!"

But the rewards, as I also, soon found out, are "legion." First - and I'm humbled when I realize it - I know I enjoy the privilege of having a lot of time with my DGC, more than many GPs, especially those who live at a distance from their GC or are, unfortunately estranged. And as a result, it's easier for me to form close ties with them (I know LDGPs can, too, it's just easier for us caregivers, IMO). As some of my LDGP friends have pointed out to me, my DGC will "really get to know" me - an idea that's already been proven, time and time again, when DGD, for instance, announces, matter-of-factly, "Grammie likes velcros better than buttons!" (True though I'm sure I'm not the only one.) And I would add, vice versa, at least, at this time in their lives. Apparently, many of my friends place a high premium on these perks. So much so that if I voice even the smallest complaint about "loss of socializing" or whatever, they retort, "You have no problem!"

That same additional time affords me another reward - a greater chance to have an impact on my DGC. To some extent this is scary ( huge responsibility with someone else' children). But it's also compelling (ahah! a chance to teach them something YDD doesn't have time for, etc.) Trust me, I would never try to teach them anything that didn't coincide with YDD's values or that she wanted to teach them herself. But she's cool with my introducing them to such natural and simple wonders as the delights of dandelions! And she's ok with my encouraging stronger bonds between then as brother and sister, even though she isn't as passionate about that goal as I am.

The greatest rewards, however, are the little "daily" ones - the hugs, kisses and adorable smiles of my little granddolls. And the sweet, loving comments that come out of their mouths, often when you least expect it. Like the other day, as I was leaving their house (where I watch them) and DGS (who, of course, would choose his mom over me, any day, if he had to) piped up, saying, "Stay Grammie. I want you to stay. Even when I'm at school, I want you to stay here." :)

RoseRed135

On Becoming a Nanny Granny

When my YDD (younger dear daughter in the current "Internet-speak") first asked me if I would help her with her then-child-to-be when she arrived, I immediately said, "Yes." I knew that as a single mom, she was going to need some help, especially as her relationship with the (excited-but-scared) dad had become shaky. And that when she went back to work, she wouldn't be able to afford daycare, even if she wanted it (she didn't - she wanted baby watched by someone who loved her). DH (dear husband) understood this, too, fortunately.

So soon enough, our wonderful DGD (dear granddaughter) came into this world (I was fortunate enough to be invited to the birth) - and I becam a "nanny granny," one of a growing number of grandparent (and other relative) caregivers, who were frequently watching their DGC, due to the increase in 2-career/job marriages and single moms (and sometimes dads), in case you are that "future reader" that I talked about earlier and don't know. This involved a major change in my daily schedule and reordering of my priorities. Actually, a series of changes since I stayed with her almost fulltime, the first week or so, and then had to reorganize my time - and rearrange it again, some months later, when she returned to work. Did I ever expect to be so fully involved in the life of a DGC. Yes and No. "Yes" in a general sort of way b/c, having 2 DDs, I always knew, in the back of my mind, that, someday, one of them might be a single mom and might turn to me for childcare, while at work, etc. And b/c my own DM (dear mom) helped me out when my kids were little and my MGM (maternal grandmother) helped DM even more (though mostly with household chores).

But mostly "No" - b/c as independent as my DDs have always been, I really thought that I'd be playing less of a part in their kids' lives than DM did in theirs or MGM, in mine. In fact, I admit, I kind of looked forward to being that "fun" GM that saw the kids once-a-week or once-a-month, whatever we all worked out. And DH and I had even thought that, among other things, we'd do more traveling, once our 2 DDs were grown and both out of the house (more on that another time). I was fully prepared (and I think DH was, too) to babysit, say on a Saturday night, if asked, so the parents wanted to go out, etc. But I never dreamed that I would play the large role in my DGC's lives that I came to play.

Nor did I anticipate the changes in child/babycare! Newborns had to be put to sleep on their backs? And never on their tummies (due to new into about SIDS)? But, years ago, as a young mom, I was warned to do just the opposite! Everyone must wash and/or sanitize their hands b4 touching a new baby? But years ago, I was reassured by doctors and nurses alike, that infants had a "built-in immunity from Mommy" for the 1st 6 months! And imagine my shock when, even a little later down the road, I confidently reassured YDD that the polio vaccine was "just a drink" (no crying!) - only to find out that pediatricians had gone back to the shot! The live, oral vaccine, apparently, had caused polio-like symptoms in some children (if I recall correctly what YDD said her pedi explalned to her). But, years ago, we were assured it was safe! OMG! One of those children could have been mine! (Granted, "Future Reader," even greater changes may have occurred by the time you were born. But in the early 21st Century, those changes seemed huge to me!)

Many a conversation ended with YDD and me each looking at the other as if they had 2 heads (this was b4 I discovered this website)! Until I realized that a lot had changed and that I would have to trust YDD's word and learn from and along with her!

YDD and I also discovered, fairly quickly, that we had different visions of what my role as a GP caregiver was supposed to be. In my mind, for example, there were definite beginnings and endings, with me arriving as she was about to leave for work and going home, as soon as she returned. Her view was more flexible, with my coming a little b4 she went to work so she had time to get ready w/o interruption and staying a little longer if she wanted to, say, stop by the store and pick up a few items, sans kids. DH also had his expectations. We did a lot of negotiating - and renegotiating b4 we were all, more or less, satisfied. Even so, from time to time, I found myself having to reaffirm the boundaries - or readjust them if something wasn't working - with either YDD or DH. (This is why in Grandparents Caring for Grandkids and other forums on this site, I often advise prospective caregivers to discuss "expectations" with the parents b4hand.)

So... My world changed, in many ways, when I became a nanny granny. New concerns rose to importance and I had to let some plans and projects slide. And my relationship with YDD shifted, now that she was the mom and I was her "helper." It wasn't always easy to acclimate myself or "get my balance," so to speak.

But in the center of that world - and what made it all worthwhile - was, first DGD and, later, DGS. Looking back, I wouldn't change a thing!

RoseRed135

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Thought I posted this last night, but I guess it didn't "take," somehow, so trying again...

If anyone had told me, years ago, that, someday, as a GM (grandmother), I would spend part of my time at computer, on a thing called "the Internet," chatting about my life and family with hundreds of total strangers, I would have laughed and thought they were "crazy!" Yet, here I am doing it!

So now I'm wondering what changes will take place in the future - and what some future reader, if any, will think of what we talk about here and how we go about it. Will GP (grandparent) caregivers, like me, be a thing of the past or the absolute norm? Will the "family" look much as it does, today, with all the variations it's already experiencing? Or will it have taken on such a new shape that the conversations on sites like this will be entirely different?

Will we even still communicate with each other in this way? Or will technology have brought us whole new forms of contacting each other that we can't even imagine right now? As a Boomer GM, I recall when the electronic typewriter was the most modern piece of equipment in my family's home. Now it seems quite "primitive." Will our ways of communicating seem just as archaic to some future reader?

And as much as I hate to say it, will this material even still be here? Or will it have disappeared as the technology became outdated and newer types of communication took over?

Regardless, I expect I'll be talking a lot about changes, as I blog - those that I underwent as I took on the caregiver role and those I've gone through and am still going through as my role, itself, evolves. But with these kinds of questions in my mind, I almost can't help addressing myself to that possible future reader, as I write, as well as, of course, those of you who are reading here and now. That is, if this blog is even still here in the far future and if any reader, at that time, is even interested in what's said by a "nanny granny" from the early 21st Century!