For years one of my granddaughters and I had a favorite game: I would be the "doctor," her stuffed animals the patients. One by one she would bring them to me, tell me what was wrong with them and assist while I treated them for, say, a broken leg or a tummy ache. I loved the game. Not only was it precious time together, but I hoped to gain insight via stuffed-animal aches and pains into the little things she worried about as she grew from toddler to pre-schooler to a kindergartner. I'm not sure we ever reached the insight stage, but we had our little game and we loved playing it together.
One of the many advantages of being a Nana or PopPop is that we are free to play with our grandkids, often to the exclusion of the things we had to do as parents--overseeing their homework, driving them to soccer practice or imposing discipline. While play is responsibility-free, there's more to it than that, according to this article in Grand, an online magazine. We're enhancing our grandchildren's lives as well as our own plus we're forced to keep ourselves current.
Here's author Judith Van Hoorn's take on that:
Another characteristic of play is the age difference between the players. When we think of preschoolers, school-aged children, or teenagers playing, we often imagine them playing with friends their age. The most common exception is playing within families where we see people of different ages playing together. And, with grandparent and grandchild play, the age difference is usually the greatest.
What might that mean for grandparents in terms of what we play and how we play? To begin with, we have to adapt our play styles to one another. For example, we need to update our repertoire of songs, stories, books, and movie plotlines, and definitely update the names of popular superheroes and princesses.
Here's looking at you WandaVision.