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An Entirely Different Job

December 3, 2013 | 3 Comments

My granddaughter is a freshman in college. What advice does a grandmother who has made more mistakes than you can name give to her? She's bright, talented, her own person and so excited. Perhaps she needs to go where she's never been without advice from me. What do you think?

Take care of yourself.

Pat Hall
Green Bay


What would be good for your granddaughter is an older, wiser, familiar soul (you) to whom she can speak freely and tell the truth and know that you respect her independence. A benevolent listener who will offer advice if asked but who will not pry and will not tattle, except in extreme circumstances. So make plans to drive to her town and take her out to dinner. A college kid can always use a free meal. Skip the advice. Tell her about the dumbest thing you did when you were her age, or the Five Dumbest Things. Have a good talk. Make her laugh. Get yourself a motel room and ask if you can come to a class with her. She'll be impressed that you take an interest. And you'll get to take vicarious pleasure in her adventures in the world. Don't discuss her with her parents except to stick up for her when they rag on her, as parents are wont to do. You're her grandmother. Entirely different job.


Post to Host - Good Listener

The Gift of Listening

There is perhaps no greater gift
Than being available as a listener.

Attentive ears and eye-contact can heal a rift.
A pen pal can be both a trainer and an entertainer,
For though solitude is not loneliness,
An audience can serve as a great motivator.
We need not someone we feel we must impress,
But someone to whom we can allow our mind to undress,
For a good listener is a great elevator,
Even if sometimes the letter never gets written,
The call never made,
The working through the thoughts to you
Can help a soul to feel brand new.

"What would be good for your granddaughter is an older, wiser, familiar soul (you) to whom she can speak freely and tell the truth and know that you respect her independence." 12/3/13

I myself was a freshman in college exactly 40 years this fall. I was lucky enough to have a loving and supportive grandmother. She knew I was getting through college by the skin of my teeth financially and had virtually no spending money. So she did an incredibly practical thing for the next four years. At the beginning of each month during the school year, she sent me a check in the amount of the money that she usually gave to her church. In short, I was her "tithing project" while I was in college. I was never sure what her church thought of this, but I will always be grateful for those small sums from a retired widow who loved and believed in her grandson and wanted him to be able to have a little fun while he was at college. Though she passed on about ten years ago, the memory of what she did for me continues to burn brightly as I am in the midst of my thirty-fourth year serving as an English professor.

my granddaughter, kathryn, is 8 years old. she has autism, and she is awesome. she spends one weekend per month, sometimes two, at our home. when her mom was young, by some miracle she and her sister taught me to accept and love them as they are; not how i thought they should be, or by trying to live my life vicariously through them, just sort of kick back and let them be themselves (with some reasonable rules in place, of course).
now, as a grandmother, i watch kathryn flourish as she teaches her mom this same lesson. she's also teaching me something else: how to regress with her and be 8 years old again. it's an incredibly rich gift which, with all the other lessons my 3 girls teach me as they continue to raise me, i'm incredibly thankful for.
someday, if and when my granddaughter goes to college, i hope to recall these lessons and be there for her -- just be there. i think i will be.
i hope all of this, or at least some of this, makes sense to someone out there.

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