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Boomer Regrets

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In my teen years, spending time with my grandparents was a great chance to getaway from my parents. But my kids definitely don't see things the same way.

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Sarah Bowman:When I was a teenager, I spent spring break alone with my grandmother in Florida. I am sure that taking a flight from Boston to Miami on my own was a thrill and -- since those were the days before television had captured images of beer-soaked college kids getting wasted on spring break--I had no idea that a quiet week on a golf course with octogenarians wasn't the height of luxury. After all, it was a break from homework, my siblings and ... let's admit it: Who didn't want to get away from their parents at the height of the teenage years?

What do I remember about being with my grandmother? The little habits of her day. How she put her rings aside on the sink when she did the dishes. How she brought half a box of Pepperidge Farm croutons back to her best friend, who was staying in the condo next door, so that neither of them would owe the other for the many meals shared. And how she liked raspberries more than any other fruit.

I suggested that my 16-year-old daughter spend a week with her grandparents this summer, and she looked at me like I was asking her to repeat the fifth grade. When you live on separate coasts, the grandparent relationship is an awkward one, borne more of duty than routine. Although my family and I spend a week in my hometown each summer, it's a beach week full of cousins stuffed into rambling house. We have always been too busy trying to keep kids fed and entertained to make space for one-on-one time with Gran or Papa. And maybe that's been the mistake.

I'm always jealous of friends whose parents live nearby and can babysit or invite the family over for Sunday supper on a regular basis. A different type of bond forges when grandparents get to be an integral part of a child's rearing. That's not the bond my kids got, and it saddens me to think I've denied that pleasure to my parents as well. What's a middle-aged daughter -- a woman who still can't eat a raspberry without thinking of her grandmother -- to do? With two parents in their eighties, I think it's time to solve this boomer-generation problem. Soon it may be too late.

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8 comments so far | Post a comment now
chris February 19, 2010, 7:31 AM

My parents live about an hour away but my kids still don’t want to spend a long time with them. That’s because they don’t have 100 tv channels, no video games systems, no computers to play on so for them it is very boring. I on the other hand, like you didn’t require a lot as a child and loved to spend time with my grandmother. She was the best to hang out with. She taught me how to play rumming and my love for reading and she would always have candy bars (my mom didn’t buy us candy)She was awesome. Kids today are so used to being stimulated all the time, they don’t appreciate the “quietness” of just hanging out.

Maria February 21, 2010, 8:42 AM

Well Chris, The amount of time spent on tv’s, computers, and video games should be controlled by you. Those are special or rainy day things my kids get to do.

Aprilcot26 February 22, 2010, 8:11 AM

I grew up with my grandparents living less than five minutes away, so we’ve always been very close. My husband and I actually just vacationed for a week with them in Arizona. We had a blast going to the Grand Canyon and hanging out with their friends in the old folks’ community they live in. I’m hoping that when we have children our kids will be as close with my parents (they live down the street from us) as I am with mine.

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