Being Grandma

It’s an honorable role, grandmother.

That’s how I see it.

And this week, for the second time this summer, the role of grandma — Gramma Janet, to be specific —  is one I adopt with gusto.

My older son Dave, is here this week with his two boys, Elijah, nearly 14, and Raleigh, 11.

Here they are in their first visit to us here in Vermont, ten years ago:


Raleigh on left, Elijah on the right. 2007


How quickly they grow.

2017 Mimicking the earlier photo.  


Too soon, they’ll move out of that sturdy nest their parents have woven, and fly.

Our job, as parents — and as grandparents, I believe — is to give our children the very best opportunity to sail, to soar if that is what they choose (though not everyone wants to soar, and that’s OK too), but to be the very best of whatever their talents allow them to be.

Today, I add my commitment to build a world in which more of our young have the same opportunity.

Here’s one of my favorite photos of Raleigh and Elijah. Their dad took this on their last day of school, four years ago.

The Blues Brothers, 2013. Raleigh, still on the left; Elijah on the right.


How about you? What role are you adopting this week?  

Next week: A Fun Look At Advance Directives

15 Responses

  1. Merril Smith
    | Reply

    It sounds like you are enjoying your Grandmother role, Janet. Your grandsons are handsome young men with kind faces.
    Merril Smith recently posted…Dreams, Again (Again)My Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      They are kind, Merril; good eye! When their dad asked them to pose for that second photo, they did it with gusto (I’ve been told). It’s fun to have them here, though I’m once again exhausted! In a good way though. Thanks for starting things off here.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Being GrandmaMy Profile

  2. Marian Beaman
    | Reply

    I notice you made the effort for Raleigh and Elijah to mimick the earlier photo. It must have taken some time for them to arrange their long, gangly legs. Darker hair now: Hormones kicking in?

    As you know, I too enjoy the role of grandparent. One of our grandsons has taken over mowing our grass and learning how to give some of his earnings to charity. This week Jenna and I are planning a tea party; she decided on the theme.

    Roots and wings, our goal for a healthy Gen-Z!
    Marian Beaman recently posted…Signs and Wonders British Columbia 2017My Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      I love tea parties with my granddaughters, too, Marian. How great for you they are so close. Tea parties aren’t nearly so exhausting as biking and blazing trails around our acreage here, I find. (our activities today; why I’ve been outside all day).

  3. Tim Fearnside
    | Reply

    Janet, I agree with Merril — they look like great kids, which doesn’t surprise me.

    Today is my daughters’ first day back at school, so this week I’ll be switching from “summer” mode to “school” mode. Hence, my 6:00 a.m. reading of your blog! (Rubs eyes). I love your view of the role of “grand-parenting,” and that you’ve embraced it the way you have. Enjoy your time together :).
    Tim Fearnside recently posted…My TotalityMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Thanks Tim. I am enjoying myself, though I find my energy level is not what it once was. We just got back from biking into town for lunch (at 4 pm; now THAT was fun). What is it about kids that allows us to see things differently? I love that. I hope your daughter is also enjoying getting back to school.

  4. Sharon Lippincott
    | Reply

    You have an ideal habitat for visiting grandchildren! When I was young, I looked forward to summer weeks with grandparents. How different from today. Mine did not cater to me. I just hung around. My dad’s parents ran a photography studio and I loved hanging out there, learning to make proofs (remember those magenta pics that slowly darkened with exposure to light?), run glossy prints through the huge drying drum with its canvas conveyor belt, tint sepia toned prints with oil paints, and ever so much more. Or I’d stay at the house by myself, snooping and cleaning. For whatever perverse reason, I enjoyed cleaning their chaotic, neglected house. Or I’d sew or read my aunt’s abandoned Nancy Drew books or my grandfather’s “secret” Masonic books (but only for minutes ─ they were BORING!), or catch grasshoppers in the yard. .

    Today, if I don’t prepare activities, the magnetic pull of SCREENS kicks in with our local granddaughters, a year younger than your boys.
    Sharon Lippincott recently posted…Always Date StoriesMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Hi Sharon 🙂

      I loved hearing how you spent your time at your own grandparents’ home. There is something wonderful, it seems to me, in being able to just “do” whatever comes along. I chafe at how orchestrated children’s time is today, so tightly scheduled. But then we didn’t have those addictive screens back then, did we. And yes, they are addictive. Did you see that 60 Minutes report on what Google does to increase user activity? It’s an important report, seems to me. The two grandsons who are here this week get a certain amount of “screen time” each day; I don’t know how it works. But they do seem to love it. And I’ve learned a bit about other apps from them already.

      I too spent a lot of time with Nancy Drew. Cherry Ames (student nurse) had my attention for a time, too. Did you read her? And you got to read those secret Mason tomes? Now there’s a story! (And grasshoppers? Confession time: In fourth grade, I caught grasshoppers during lunch, brought them into school, and then set them free in the coatroom. Me! I don’t recall trying to cause trouble; it was more just one thing followed another.)

      I have been paying attention to how I am different when my grandchildren are around. I’m focusing on BEING with them. It’s been good for me. I’m glad to hear your stories.

      • Pamela
        | Reply

        These are really good points. Thanks for your perspective, Sharon. It’s true, when I visited my grandparents (and for us, it was more when they came to visit us) the focus was never on me and my brother. We were just ‘around’ and watched what they did. Now, we grandparents give our entire focus to our grandkids. But each of my children have 3 young children, so I feel that they each can use individual attention and time. I try and take one at a time. Special special.
        But yes, I spent a LOT of time with Nancy Drew, and then the Hardy boys, and then oh how I loved Cherry Ames. 🙂
        Pamela recently posted…The Power of LoveMy Profile

  5. Laurie Buchanan
    | Reply

    Janet — I love your positive, uplifting, constructive, and healing stance:

    “Today, I add my commitment to build a world in which more of our young have the same opportunity.”

    Amen siSTAR!
    Laurie Buchanan recently posted…Path of Totality (almost)My Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Oh yes. My activism on the environment has long been motivated by how it will impact future generations, but the events of the past few months has convinced me that even growing up poor, I had more opportunities available to me than many here do. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link; so too a country. We must have everyone matter.

      Thanks, as always, Laurie, for your support.

  6. Kathleen Pooler
    | Reply

    I love being a grandma too, Janet! Your boys are handsome young men. So glad you are enjoying these precious moments. You are making wonderful memories!

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Oh yes, those memories. Fun to make and fun to recall. I love seeing the photos you post of your batch. Welcome home, too.

  7. Pamela
    | Reply

    I never realized (until 9 years ago) how much I’d LOVE my new role as a grandmother. I always thought being a grandmother meant I was getting older. NOooo. Instead, I need to be YOUNGER to keep up with my (now) 6 grandkids. Exhausting? Yes. Modeling to them love and respect and fun and a place where they can always come to talk and play and be listened-to. Beyond wonderful. I’ve jumped rope, made thousands of cookies, lost rounds of Uno, danced in the grocery store, and read hundreds of book since I became a grandmother. And I’m only getting younger. 😉

    • Janet
      | Reply

      I love love love your attitude, Pam. And just now reading your last post on the power of love. Thanks for joining in.

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