One of the joys of aging is the privilege of grandparenting. If one takes seriously the fundamental precept that engaging in healthy activities helps one age well, the opportunity to support children and grandchildren is right up there on the keeping-healthy scale.
At first, way back last March, it did not seem like isolation would be that long. Oh, I knew that the pandemic would require a long time to address and that coping with it would challenging and laborious for us, for scientists, for the medical community, and for most of our leaders. But I did not imagine just how it would effect my connections with my grandchildren.
Now six months later, and with no end in sight, I can say that it’s been, well, awful, and just about every long-distance grandparent that I’ve spoken with says the same thing. Actually, most say it’s devastating. Some even report feeling tearful at the end of every phone conversation.
We grandparents and our adult children have done all sorts of things to address the situation positively: FaceTime calls, Zoom family get-togethers, reading books together (video and audio), playing online games, and much, much more. Most of the time we are positive, and our children have bent over backwards (and often done handstands) to ensure that we connect with grandchildren as often as possible. But you can’t cuddle and hug over the phone or the Internet, or jump out of the car joyfully as a young child races across the lawn to leap into your arms. Missing these things is dispiriting.
If there is anything that I will not, in the future, ever forgive about the shameful, bungling management of the pandemic in the United States, it is the blasé way many of our leaders seem to address the deaths (today pushing 190,000 individuals).
However, just below that is my umbrage, anger really, at the connection gap that I am experiencing in the lives of my grandchildren. It’s time that will never be recaptured.
What Have You Done to Connect
With Your Grandchildren?
Here’s What I (We) Do — Add your ideas in the comments.
- FaceTime at least once a week.
- Mail books
- Celebrate big events on Zoom
- Video ourselves reading books and uploading them to Vimeo. (This does not work with the Vimeo free version.)
- Sending email messages (in our case this requires parents to help).
- We are looking for online site that allows us to play games together, in our case with a 5-year-old.