Ettie could not believe her eyes or her ears. As she walked into her eight-year old daughter’s room, her mother was telling Beth, her daughter, “You don’t have to listen to mommy; you can stay up because I’m visiting.”

Beth was a good girl who would not have thought of defying her mother on such a major issue. Luckily, mommy came to the rescue.

Ettie only had to raise her eyebrows in question; Grammy knew she was caught.

Grammy decided that the best thing to do to save face AND get her way was to be confrontational.

“Isn’t that right, mommy?” Grammy went on, “Since I am your mommy and you have to listen to me, Beth can stay up late tonight?”

Now, Ettie was in a pickle. If she was defiant, what would she be teaching her daughter? If she agreed with her mother, Beth would be having a hard time getting up in the morning. But a light bulb went off in Ettie’s head and she replied:

“Ah, mom,” Ettie said, “I think that is a great idea. And you can wake Beth and get her off to school in the morning, too!” She chuckled so that it was clear to everyone that she was joking. However, her mom was not to be easily outdone.

“Nonsense!” said Grammy. “She doesn’t have to go to school tomorrow. I’m visiting, after all. How often do I come in anyway? She can learn her subjects later on, but she only gets this moment to connect with her Grammy.”

Ettie started to remember why she moved to the other side of the country from her mother.

“You’ll be here for a week, Mom,” Ettie pointed out. “And she gets home from school at 4. In fact, by going to school, you can go over homework with her which will give you a special way to bond. Otherwise, she will hang around the house and you will get tired of trying to find things to entertain her with.”

Daughter won that round by dint of quick thinking. Whew.

But it was a close call.

On the other hand, don’t grandparents have something to offer their grandchildren?

Something of the wisdom of years and the accumulation of experience?

Okay, I get that. But just how does that fit into the notion of a child staying up late and missing the very education that we are talking about? Hmm. Grammy perhaps should consider this a bit more deeply. Let’s do that.

We can promote the idea of grandparents teaching their grandchildren–directly. But here is the catch: The mom has already taught the daughter. Now the grandmother repeats that learning to the grandchild. The child therefore hears the lesson twice and it comes out the same. That is very powerful — when the mom and her mother are on the same page.

She can imagine that the same thing happened to both her mother and her grandmother.

If Grammy and Poppi did a great job of passing on to their children good values, then it really won’t matter who teaches little Beth. The grandparents and the parents can stand in for one another and the same lesson will be taught.

In fact, if Ettie and her mother end up on the same page, then Beth will be quite impressed with the truth of that lesson.

In other words, it’s not a contest. It’s a symphony.

When I visit my grandchildren, I take particular delight in letting my voice be another one in harmony with that of their parents, teachers, and their other grammy.

If something is worth hearing, it’s worth hearing two or three times! One time, the littlest cutie pie wanted me to read her a book, but I was listening to my then-second grader read. “Not now,” I smiled at the little one. The older child looked sternly at his baby sister and said, “Grammy says homework is more important.”

Now, that’s true joy.

Oh, but you want to know about Ettie and her mom.

Grammy has to do some introspection: Does she really want her relationships to be all about vying for power or can she derive joy from working out of the same playbook as her children?


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