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!