When A Child Loses Hope

This pandemic has left it’s mark on everyone – some marks deeper than others. Some will be too frightened to go anywhere again. Some will wear a mask from now on. Some will have nothing more than bad memories. But the epidemic of hopelessness among teenagers seems most tragic to me.

According to a psychologist I know, children in their teen years have lost their will to live in unheard of numbers. Can you even imagine being 14 or 15 and seeing no future for yourself? I really couldn’t imagine that myself.

Or at least I couldn’t until I found out that my 16 yo grandson Matt had confided to his physician that he was having some suicidal thoughts. Then it all came crashing in. This is real! This is happening! My baby is in danger!

My poor sweet boy had not planned the date or time but had definitely planned the method to end his life. That’s how absolutely real it is to have no hope!

My first instinct was to get on a plane, fly two and half hours, go to Matt’s school and scoop him up in my arms like a baby. Then hug and kiss him all over, follow him around so no one could say or do anything hurtful to him. And if anyone tried, I would beat the snot out of them!

That was the Granny bear response in me. But first responses are often primal and not thought out very well.

So what did I really do? After some careful thought, I wrote my sweet darling boy a love letter.

I told him how much I loved him, how much Gramps loved him, how lovable he is in general.

I told him all the things I loved about him – his energy, his love of music, his sense of humor.

I told him how much I appreciated his love of astronomy, his joy of marching in the High School band, how well he plays his saxophone.

I told him how much I enjoyed being around him, the good memories I have of our vacation together and how well he can tell a joke. I ended the letter saying, “Remember you are my favorite!”, which is something I say to all my grandchildren. They all laugh, but it is true. They are ALL my favorite!

Of course, one letter is not a cure-all but lots of love and prayer can certainly tip the scales. And that’s what I have lots of – love and prayer.

Look out Matt! You’re about to be loved on and prayed for, Granny style!!!!!

Sometimes Just Listening Is The Best

First of all, I’m a talker. I tell stories and jokes, keep the conversation going, ask questions and make comments. I’m good at small talk and making strangers feel welcome. At a restaurant, I can get the waiter’s/waitress’ complete history by the time our meal is served.

I’m not usually comfortable with silence in the room. I love the sound of talking, laughing and conversation.

But sometimes . . . . .

As the other day when I just happened to be standing with a friend at church. I asked her how she was.

(Now let me pause here and give you some good Granny advice. Never and I mean NEVER ask anyone how they are unless you are prepared to hear the answer. The whole answer!)

She proceeded to tell me how things were not going well, how the doctors were not able to give her answers, how frightened she was, how out of control she felt.

Believe me when I tell you, I had no jokes, no stories, no small talk, no witty words to make her feel better. I stood there silent, holding her hand and listened until she had no more words.

She thanked me profusely for hearing her. We hugged and cried. Then she said, “You are the only one who understands.”

Truthfully, I didn’t understand anything, except I could identify with her feelings. I had said nothing of any profound use, offered no advice, didn’t even say I understood.

I simply looked into her eyes for what seemed like hours and listened to her story of pain. It doesn’t seem like much, until no one does it. Then the lack of it can be it’s own kind of death.

She and I aren’t even the closest of friends. We see each other at church and church functions and are friendly.

How this all happened this one particular time, this one particular moment and place is a mystery. Or is it?

She was ready and I was ready. One to talk and one to listen.

And you know what? I’m as grateful as she is!!!!

How To Really Love A Child

  • Be there
  • Say “yes” as often as possible
  • If they’re crabby, put them in water
  • If they’re unlovable, love them anyway
  • Laugh a lot
  • Have family movie nights
  • Let them pick out their own clothes
  • Don’t yell
  • Play games
  • Play dress up
  • Read books out loud with joy
  • Bake a cake and lick the bowl
  • Surprise them
  • Handle with care
  • Be kind
  • Make traditions
  • Hug them every time you greet them
  • Say “I love you” every time you say goodbye

How To Become A Granny

Next to being a mother, being a granny is the best thing ever. The relationship has a lot of the perks of motherhood, without all the responsibilities. For example, I get all the hugs and kisses but don’t have to worry about getting the kids to bed on time or giving them a balanced diet.

The grandchildren and I have a lot of fun together and don’t have a lot of rules we have to live with. It’s pretty much a perfect world, being a granny.

OK, so first of all, to become a granny, you have to get a grandchild, somehow. There are several ways to accomplish this. First, there is the old fashioned way. You know – you have a child. The child begets another child.

It’s lovely and very sweet to see the baby of your baby. You fall instantly in love because they remind so much of your baby and when you gave birth. It’s a full circle moment for sure.

One grandson came to me this way. The son of my daughter, Mac, was our first grandchild and is now fifteen years old.

Then God can gift you with grandchildren, as I was when our niece asked Gramps and me to be her parents and be grandparents to her children. That’s how I received five grandchildren in Phoenix, now ages fourteen to twenty-two.

These gifted grandchildren came to me in such a special way. I learned to love them as I learned to know them, each in their own special way.

Then, of course, there is adoption, where you choose the child yourself. How special is that? I don’t have any grandchildren in that way but I would certainly accept them if they came in such a manner.

I love being a granny so much. I would take grandchildren almost anyway they might come to me. If they were for sale in a mall, I would become a retail shopping granny. If they came wrapped in bows, it would be Christmas every day. And if I had to borrow some, I would most certainly get the library card and start checking them out!!!!

I recommend grannyhood to all. For me it is the culmination of all I have learned and loved the past seventy-four years rolled up in six shiny young faces that I cannot get enough of.

Try it! I think you’ll like it!!!

Gramps And Granny Go To Oshkosh

Gramps and I decided to go to Oshkosh this year, which if you are not aware, is the biggest Air Show in the country – maybe the world. I’m not sure, but it’s pretty big.

We have been before and have even taken grandchildren. (See Camping With Teenage Boys 9-5-2013) But somehow, this year was different. We had originally hoped to take Mac, our 15 yo grandson with us, but Summer High School Band conflicted, so we decided to go by our lonesomes.

Off we started in the old reliable camper, now 17 years old! Our first stop was to visit cousins in Iowa for a couple days and of course, eat sweet corn, freshly picked. Nothing is better than fresh Iowa corn!!!

Then straight to Oshkosh, Wisconsin to find a spot in the field designated for camping with no hookups. Good thing we had our generator! It was a huge village of every kind of camper, van, RV and motorhome you could imagine with every accessory known to man.

Bicycles, scooters, golf carts, trams and buses were going by constantly, to say nothing of the stream of pedestrians. Our little village was certainly a busy one.

And may I add, a very pleasant one. Families, children, elderly, disabled all gently mixed with no cross words, no grumbling, no shouting. Everyone used kind language, humor and smilies at every turn.

Gramps and I felt safe and among friends everywhere we went. Young people were a polite as the mature and the old were having as much fun as the kiddos.

I’ve never seen such harmony in such a large group in my life. What a treat!

To Gramp’s delight we saw wonderful planes, planes and more planes. Some of the old WWII planes flew in huge formations that may never be seen again, It was very stirring to see.

The most fun was the WW II encampment where everyone was in uniform and stayed in character, even the USO girls and Nurses. How they found all the equipment and paraphernalia appropriate to the times is amazing.

We walked a lot, carried our lawn chairs, drank gallons of fluids and tried not to get sunburned. It all seemed to work pretty well.

Day two, a nice couple moved into the area next to us in the field. We met them, Mary and Tim and found we had a lot in common.

Mary loves quilting – like me! Mary is a retired nurse – like me! She has two children – like me! A boy and a girl – like me! Tim is a pilot and loves cars – like Gramps! So we did the logical thing – we went to dinner. For TWO HOURS!!! We talked, we laughed,, we touched. (Nurses touch people – it’s a thing!) We felt like we had known each other a lifetime.

And to make it even more special, it was our 53rd Wedding Anniversary. Gramps and I agreed it was one of the best in many years.

Now I have a new friend. That’s worth any kind of trip in my book.

The trip ended a day early due to a storm coming to Oshkosh. The prediction of strong winds and 2-3 inches of rain is more than this gal can tolerate in a camper, so home we came. Sad to miss the big night Air Show and fireworks, but practicality prevailed.

Two days on the road to get back home to record-breaking temperatures. Oh boy!

But I have always said that coming home is the best part of every trip.