It’s been an unexpectedly long and challenging summer with our two granddaughters, ages 11 and 13. I understand that modern kids and modern parents live and grow up in an entirely different way than we did, but I think there still just might be something to learn from doing things the old-fashioned way.
I was hoping I wasn’t too far out of line with my expectations and was happy to find a website http://www.choresandchecklists.com/chores-for-preteens.html that pretty much confirms reasonable ways kids should be expected to participate in family life.
I am also considered a prison warden because I allow only one hour of phone time per day. That has, admittedly, been the most difficult. After about three weeks, I finally relented that they could earn an extra hour of phone time in exchange for an hour of garden work. They only earned that extra hour once. “It’s too hard,” they announced.
Here are a few things I hope they’ve taken away from their Pleistocene-era grandparents. I’m printing this out for them to post in their rooms at home in hopes that in the bustle of the school year, they’ll remember.
- You can tell you nana or papa anything. We will always love you.
- You can ask us any questions you have. We’ll answer honestly if we know the answer. Please accept we may not know the answer.
- “Friends” you make online are not true friends and may not even be who they might seem to be.
- At your age, your only true friends are cultivated through face-to-face time. They’re the ones who stick up for you when times are tough.
- To have a friend, you must be a friend.
- Words have power. To add, “Just kidding” to a hurtful statement will never erase it.
- Make your bed every day.
- Keeping your room clean is a sign of self-respect.
- There’s value in doing something secretly helpful for someone every day.
- Reading fantasy novels is fine, but they should be sprinkled with doses of the real world.
- As citizens of the world, we have an obligation to be in touch with the world around us. We need to watch a half hour of news a day and discuss the news.
- Your sister may be a pain, but there is also value in sharing space respectfully and being considerate of each other’s privacy.
- It’s fine to slow down a bit and smell the flowers. And weed the garden.
- Exercise every day without fail.
- When you start a task, carry it all the way through to the end.
I don’t in any way mean to say that our grandgirls need fixing or that they are wrong.
- They are beautiful, intelligent, inquisitive and creative.
- They are voracious readers, budding young artists and the older one is passionate about learning to cook.
- They are almost always uncomplaining when asked to help.
- Their mom has done a great job of raising them in the face of enormous challenges.
We’re just putting on some finishing touches that I hope they remember. Maybe that’s one of the many roles grandparents can serve.