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We Are Grand!

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We Are Grand!

It began before they were born.

We had the critical job of choosing names. Not names for the shadowy figures in the sonograms but names for ourselves.

Grandma and Grandpa?

Gemma and Poppa?

Glamma and Pops?

To the horror of our kids we chose Nana and Poppy. They hated it instantly. That should have been a sign. After all, what do we know about babies, children, and running a family?

According to Statistic Brain Research Institute, there are 70 million grandparents in the United States, each with an average net worth of $254,000. Sixty percent still have a full or part time job and 75% use the internet.

One of us with orange hair now runs down the country. Fortunately, he doesn’t represent the 43% of us that exercise or play sports and 71% that say reading is one of their favorite activities.

As modern grandparents, we quickly learned who the experts are. Any suggestion, advice, or questioning the latest child-raising strategy was not allowed. The rules were clear – information came from the internet, the cranky nanny, the 17-year old babysitter, and the neighbor with four kids in therapy.

Sam Levenson once said, “The reason grandchildren and grandparents get along so well is that they have a common enemy.”

Who could question that?

Grandparenting is a joy unlike any other. Each child is different: wise Johnny, funny Nicky, serious Mason, and Emma . . . the only girl and beloved family diva.

Through them we’ve learned about the important stuff – how to play Mindcraft, the latest superhero action figures, understanding trajectory on a plastic car race game (that’s Mason, the serious one), and the endless joys of pink and purple Shopkins.

When Mom and Dad aren’t watching we spoil our four grands with gifts, goodies, and time. What can be better than munching on “forbidden candy” at the movies or having a serious conversation about Peppa Pig?

We eat it up like the gooey, leftover desserts deposited on our plates when the kids are finished. Or the sticky lollipops and precious gummy bears left in our care. The real secret, according to grandparents.com is that 72% think that being a grandparent is the single most important and satisfying thing in their life.

Nana and Poppy fit right in.

We adore our four grands. The crazy video games, irreplaceable “luvies,” chocolate ice cream smiles, and paper-plate paintings that say “I love you” are precious beyond belief. Dance recitals, baseball games, cub scouts, and school projects are endless sources of entertainment. That’s before spending $1 million in play money as a surrogate tooth fairy or running through sprinklers and water buckets in the backyard.

Hang drawings on your refrigerator, “gifts” on your keychain, or wear with pride the paint and spaghetti stains deposited on your clothes. They’re reminders of the joy of being a grandma, grandpa, nana, poppy, or whatever they call you.

Celebrate being grand . . . take everyone out for pizza. On your dime, of course.

Dr. Jeri Fink, author, photographer, traveler, and family therapist, challenges the creaky myths of aging. She believes that now is a creative, exciting time to grow and explore new ideas, people, and places. Visit Dr. Jeri at www.jerifink.com,   www.hauntedfamilytrees.com,   or   www.bookwebminis.com to enter her world of discovery, fun, and insights. Her fiction project, Broken, is a series of seven thrillers that defy tradition. She is presently working on Book Web Minis – a series of fun, fast and positive mini books (50-70 pages long) where readers partner with the experts. Check it out at www.bookwebminis.com

She tells us: “I challenge the art of writing by merging fact, fictional elements, interactivity, and photography into nonfiction mini books. I draw from my training in social work, experience in individual and family therapy, professional research, and passion for exploring positive psychology. My 32 published books, hundreds of articles and blogs, speaking engagements, and active online presence all reflect who I am today.”

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