What has the grandparenting life come to? We had to make an appointment to telephone Happy Birthday wishes to a 10-year-old grandchild. Okay, it wasn't like a business apppointment but we did have to txt and e-chat to find a moment when the phone would be answerable and the appropriate child available to hear good wishes sent her way.
There is a back story. Of course there is.Our grandchildren have aged out of toddler-hood and preschool--those were the days when we sent balloon bouquets to great huzzahs of excitement on their part. They are now primary and middle-schoolers. There are soccer practices, piano lessons, gymnastic classes, play dates, homework and who knows what else. In the case of Uber son, whose family lives in a city far from ours, those activities--and the coordination of said lessons, practices and playdates--are multiplied times three children and would take an excel sheet to map and execute if my daughter-in-law didn't manage it all in her head.
The busyness is understandable. Therefore, so is setting a time when there's a break in the child's day and she or he can come to the phone. It's when we finally get through--appointment kept!--that we find the conversation not very satisfying. It is the end of a long day. The Grand is tired. She has a date with her dad to read a book together before bedtime. She's very polite but we can sense how--well, what a drag this call might be. It was so much easier when air-blow ups of Mickey Mouse and Hello Kitty were an option.
So why do we persist with the telephone call? I have been thinking a lot about this. First off, we love our grandchildren. We want to remind them that, though in our case we don't live nearby, we are another set of adults who care deeply about them, that they are very special to us and very special. In short, it's a reminder that we are there for them.
But there's another part: I think we do it to remind our grown children, whose lives are even busier than their children's are (and certainly than ours are, now that the child rearing is done and our careers are winding down), that we are part of the family--the part that shares the deep and constant love for the most precious aspect of their lives, their children.
That's as good a reason as any to make the appointment, if that's what it takes to send the message.