Andrew is not quite 3 years old. We skype and facetime every couple of weeks. He has four other long distance grandparents plus a huge fan club of friends of the family.
Elissa, my daughter repeats Andrew’s question, as if I didn’t hear it the first time. “He wants to know when you are coming back to visit.” I knew what Andrew had asked; I just didn’t believe my ears. He wants me to come back to visit.
I’m touched deeply by his question and his desire for me to return. This is like an invitation from the King. Obviously, I don’t take this relationship as a grandparent lightly. But, I’m caught off guard. “Yes! I’ll be back to visit you in the winter.” Andrew looks at me on the computer screen as if this means it will be very, very soon. Its three long months for me!
Grandparenting is a lot of things – mostly made up in the minds of grandparents. What we are is a biological unit that produced offsprings, who produced offsprings. That’s all we are. The rest is context – interpretations, assumptions and expectations made up by us, our children and their children.
Driving into Eastsound, on Orcas Island, my home, thousands of miles away from Glasgow, Scotland, where Andrew and his parents live, I think a lot about who I am as a grandparent. What’s my role in Andrew’s life? What do I want from this relationship? What do I have to offer, living so far away? He doesn’t have a clue about what to expect from a grandparent. Me and the others; we are just people with names like Granny, Nannie, Gramps and Grandpa. He doesn’t know that it means the world to us to have him say those words out loud, to the right person at the right time. Who we become to him, overtime, will depend on how we show up and engage with him. Again, I ask myself – how do I want to be as a grandparent for myself and for him. Here are my top four ways to show up as a valued grandparent, as of today: