Friday, March 13, 2009

Volunteering

My next door neighbor and I went out for a casual dinner the other night, and she told me about a wonderful organization here in Vancouver called Volunteer Grandparents. I had not heard of it before, but my neighbor "B" knows about all the volunteering organizations. And what a fabulous idea.

When my daughter was small, I used to love doing things with the kids -- bike riding, ice skating, swimming, going to the beach, playing in the park, going to movies, museums, art galleries, children's theatre and concerts -- and so much more. I was like the Pied Piper, I had a stream of little kids following behind me as we set out on one of our adventures. It was always tons of fun.

When my own grandchildren came along, I could hardly wait until they were old enough to do all these things. I see advertisements on TV for kid things like Ice Capades, movies, children's concerts and ballet, etc. Just recently the play "Annie" was here and I thought, "Gosh, I wonder if a little girl would like to go to that with me." And of course this weekend is the wonderful St. Patrick's Day parade here in Vancouver, and in a couple of weeks the Royal Winnipeg Ballet will be presenting "Peter Pan" at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Doesn't that sound fabulous?

Volunteer Grandparents brings together grandparents with children who do not have the immediate presence of grandparents in their every day lives. The intention is to create a mutually beneficial relationship which resembles an extended family. The emphasis is on the creation of long term extended family relationships. The program has been providing children and adults with the opportunity to be an important member of a family, enabling them to share time, love, skills and life experiences, while offering families support, love and wisdom.

I love my own little grandchildren with all my heart, and I know they love me too, but somehow my relationship with them seems to have morphed into my being their babysitter -- sort of on an as-needed basis. I am not really a part of their lives, and they are not a part of mine. It's just the way it is, and I have accepted it, although I don't care for it. When I was a little girl, I would have loved to have had a closer relationship with my grandparents, but it was not to be. One of my cherished memories was of my grandfather holding my hand, walking along the waterfront with me, explaining the waterline on ships. He was a Captain in the British Army, and most of the time he scared the tar out of me, but on that day I felt very special. My daughter had a very special relationship with her grandmother as well, one that both of them cherished. My mother adored her granddaughter -- she was her pride and joy -- but sadly my mother was not able to be an active part of her other grandchildren's lives.

None of us escapes this life alive. And at some point most of the grownups seem to get into a game of "silly buggers" with each other, and it is usually over the most minuscule things. Often no one is to blame -- it just happens, and the gap widens as the years go on. But the children should not be involved. They should be free to enjoy their childhoods with all the love they can get, from as many people as they have in their lives who love them unconditionally. Go and hug your grandchildren, or your grandparents. It all goes by very quickly.

And I hope everyone gets outdoors this weekend and has some fun!

24 comments:

Deb said...

what a wonderful organization, good for the children, good for the adults, I hope you are able to join in. I have always volunteered with my children in all kinds of activities, soccer, baseball, softball, PTA, dance etc. now that they are both grown, I do miss some of those things, and other things I am glad they are done, I have always found volunteering to be quite rewarding, especially with children.

Paula Slade said...

Very wise words Jo and spoken from the heart. The volunteer program sounds special too.

Firefly said...

Wow, what an awesome initiative. I actually wonder if it could also work over here.
Something like this is mutially benefitial as there are many lonely elderly people out there who would sorely want to have the pleasure of having some kids around sometimes to feel that joy and laughter kids bring into any environment.

scarlethue said...

To that I would also add "And go and hug your grandparents, because they will be gone before you know it."

I had one of those special relationships with all of my grandparents that lived during my childhood. My grandmothers are still alive, although one is quite senile now. When I lost my grandfather two years ago, I grieved like I had lost a father. I still grieve.

What a wonderful organization. Grandparents are so special and for a child who doesn't have them to be a part of this... wow.

Kym said...

That sounds like a fun organization to be a part of....go for it, Jo! I involved myself with my son when he was growing up all the way through his senior year in high school and now I am doing the same for my daughter. My parents are a part of her life as well and she does get to spend time with them.

Whitney Lee said...

You say that the relationship with your family (or lack there of) is just the way it is and that you have accepted it. That may be but based on your posts lately you are very much aware of the lack. And yet here you've been introduced to an opportunity to give to someone else what you are not allowed to give to your own grandchildren. Isn't it wonderful to have life present you with answers to your needs that you might never have thought of on your own? It sounds like a wonderful way for everyone to gain.

Just Breathe said...

If only you lived here Jo! I would love for you to be an honorary granparent to my boys! Life is too short and you have so much love to give. Right on!

Jo said...

Deb, well, it can only be a win/win situation, can't it? Maybe I can make a difference.

Paula, yes, what a fabulous organization, hey?

Firefly, well, I'm not elderly -- yet -- *heh* and maybe these little kids might have some fun too.

Scarlethue, I wish there had been an organization like this when I was a little girl. I would have loved it!

Kym, life is too short to sit on the shelf all the time, isn't it?

Whitney, oh goodness, yes, I am aware of the widening gap. It grow wider each year. And yes, it's just the way it is.

JustBreathe, oh, gosh, thank you! I would enjoy that, very much! Kids are great, aren't they!?

TheChicGeek said...

That sounds like a wonderful organization. The most all-consuming unconditional love I've ever felt in my life came from my Grandma. You would be such a joy and blessing to any child. Grandparents love us like nobody else. Sometimes you may feel as though you're just doing errands or last-minute babysitting with your grandchildren, but I believe, to them, it means the world. Children are simple and what they want more than anything is our time. The most precious gift we can give is that...they don't care if they're helping you wash the dishes, baking cookies or going to the zoo, each will always be so special and memorable to them. They are getting your undivided attention! Wow, what could be better.
Have a Beautiful Weekend, Jo :)

TheChicGeek said...

Jo, I'm thinking more about you volunteering and I'm thinking you might have a waiting list of 1,299 kids just chomping at the bit to have a day with Jo :) Lucky little buggers!

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Lorna said...

Sending you a big big hug, Jo. Big huge hug.

Lorna

Jo said...

The Chic Geek, yes, I never realized how much a grandparent could love a grandchild -- until I had grandchildren of my own. I adore them. To me, they are the most perfect children in the world. And the cutest too, of course. *heh*

Commoncents, thank you. :-) I will check out your blog.

Lorna, thank you!!! Gosh, I could sure use a hug. (((Hugs back))) :-)

Margaret said...

When my daughter was a teen, she announced she wouldn't have children--quite a pronouncement from one so young. She took this stand for good reasons, which are better left unsaid. After she married, though, one day she told me that I would be a grandmother. It has been both wonderful and bittersweet being "Nana." The wonderful part is the unabandoned joy and hugs these beautiful children give me. The bittersweet part is the tearful calls I receive from my daughter because the eldest has asperger's and is difficult to manage. Any program that focuses on helping children wins my support. I wasn't a big fan of Hillary Clinton, but she did say, "It takes a village," in reference to raising children. Good for you Jo.

Jo said...

Margaret, oh, gosh, yes, it does take a village. I don't think a child can get too much love. It's very sad when a child is taught to be indifferent. Everyone loses, including the child. Thank you for sharing your story.

introspection said...

Hi Jo, your post brought lovely memories of my own children's childhood days. Even I used to take them and all their freinds together to beaches, and have barbecue for them with burgers, and kebaabs. They used to absolutely love them. On weekends I would drive them to their piano lessons, swimming lessons, and ice skating concerts. I am really looking forward to becoming a grandmom soon. My elder sister who is a grandma tells me that she thinks grandparents love their grand children more than they loved their children. Is it true ? I wonder.
Jo this volunteer organisation sounds wonderful. Children are such fun to be with. Their innocence is incomparable and irreplaceable by any thing else on this earth.
Hope you have a wonderful evening.
PS: Make the most of your time with your own grand children too; even if it is just baby-sitting time.
hugs.

Jo said...

Introspection, oh, yes, I cherish every minute with them. Every time they visit I get lots of pictures so I will have memories when they have grown up too. I adore them.

Miss_Nobody said...

Wow this sounds lovely,absolutely marvelous.I never got to spend much time with my grandparents,just my grandma who was a lovely lady and we loved each other SO much.She would take me to the parks,play lets pretend and any silly thing I came up with.But she died when I was six and thats the end of a wonderful relationship.My dad says I would have had a ball with my grandad,though I never got to see him,I know them just through my parents' memories

Lover of Life said...

As a grandmother currently spending a few days with my one and only grandson, I really related to this post. I would hate to not be a part of his life. Living apart from him has not been ideal. But I have also been thinking about volunteer work. I can't think of a better way to spend time than being an adoptive grandmother. There are so many little children that could benefit from your time and love, Jo. I think I will look into my community and see if it is available. Thanks for the idea.

Mean Mama said...

I've often felt sad for kids who do not have grandparents. I love mine so much and helped shape who I am today. I will be losing one or both on my mother's side soon, I know. It is very sad and I feel helpless about it. I have tried so very hard to make sure they know how much I love them. Thanks for the reminder. Your grandkids and your adopted grandkids are very lucky to have you.

Russell said...

Wonderful idea! To be a volunteer grandparent is great, great and more great!

It is easy to sit around and just look at TV or a computer or read ... but it is only by giving of yourself that you feel really good about life. (I bet someone else has said that, haven't they?! Heh!) But it is true.

Do it, do it and do it some more!! A little boy and/or girl will be beyond grateful and will remember your time with them for the rest of their lives!

Donnetta Lee said...

Sounds like a very good organization, Josie. And good words of wisdom. I don't have any grandbabies but beginning to wish I did. Maybe some day. If not, I could volunteer! D

Andrea said...

This organization sounds great. I barely knew my grandparents because they lived in another state. I hope you get involved and share your love!

Jo said...

Miss Nobody, oh, gosh, I'm sorry to hear you lost your grandmother when you were so young. I was only five when my grandmother died, but I still remember her hugs.

LoverOfLife, I'm sure this organization must exist in other places too. I think it's a wonderful idea!

MeanMama, I think my grandchildren are learning to be indifferent to me, sadly. It breaks my heart. I'm sorry you are about to lose one of your grandparents. I think they know you love them.

Russell, yes! I have tried to create memories for my grandchildren as well, but they always seem to be negated. Maybe I will make a difference to some little kid's life.

Donnetta, you could "adopt" a grandchild. I think you would probably love it!

Andrea, thank you! I didn't know my grandparents all that well, either, and it has always made me sad.