Commentary: 12 things Grandma learned on summer vacation from the grandkids

Summer vacation is over. It is hard to send the grandkids back to school. I find myself today reflecting on 12 things I learned from them over the summer.

1. I learned that if you want to see horrified faces you tell the teens that you just spent the day patching up all the rips in their denim jeans. I enjoyed their reaction.

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2. Seriously, why did I just pay big bucks for ripped blue jeans that charities would have rejected as too damaged to donate a few years ago? Now the school requires that the holes in their jeans be lined inside (not outside as I suggested) with patches if the ragged rips are above the knee. What in the world is going on here?

3. No matter how far you camp from a cell tower in an area like Hocking Hills, Rachel, Heather, Ann, and the rest of their persistent telemarketing crew will manage to still get phone calls to you even if no one else can. I want to know what cell phone company they are using. And of course, somehow the teens in the camp continued to communicate with friends while the rest of us might as well have been on the moon.

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4. It is indeed possible to make Jello using a Keurig coffee brewer while camping provided you have electricity. The family didn’t believe that the seven year old grandson and I figured out how.

5. Arms come off manikins in the stores if you hug them. This probably means it’s a good time to take the preschooler home.

6. Don’t let toddlers stand alone near the fire alarm at the library. Nothing good can happen from this arrangement.

7. It is not grandma’s job to take away the binky. It is my job to get her to nap. It is a matter of survival. I need a nap too.

8. No matter how many times you remind the kids of their summer reading assignments, the books still end up being read in marathon fashion and finished the night before school starts. They are so lucky it was not Great Expectations.

9. Giving the iPhone to your 14-year-old tech rep on the way to Columbus might get you a new account on Snapchat, with a photo that has a cute animal nose and puppy ears. Do I want to be there at my age? And where is there? Why does my photo have a cute nose and puppy ears?


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10. Introducing the youngest generation to 130-year-old images of their multiple great grandparents can be eye-opening. They still don’t know if they want the old unsmiling formal portraits in the guest bedroom. And it is difficult for us all to comprehend oil portraits of eight times great grandparents in Europe. I wish those portraits could talk like the ones in Hogwarts.

11. The first day of high school is as scary in 2018 for my granddaughter as it was for me in 1964. Seniors still intimidate freshmen. Some people are nice while others are downright mean. I had to wear skirts every day, while she has ripped blue jeans. I’m jealous. Social media has replaced passing notes. She types essays on a Chromebook; I wrote them out longhand in a Bluebook. If she needs to call her Mom she uses the phone in her pocket; I had to get a hall pass and put a dime in a payphone by the cafeteria. American History has 54 more years to cover than when I was in school. Students and parents still pray to get the best teachers. And before we know it, she will be graduating.

12. Fact is that summer vacation wasn’t long enough in 1964 and it was even shorter in 2018.

I’m praying for a good year for all our students, teachers, and administrators. Let the learning and the fun begin.