Rock On, Grandma and Grandpa

Eileen Hopkins (Gramma Jamma)
Grandma’s Point of View

Did you grow up to be the rock star or astronaut you wanted to be when you were in Grade 3? Or did you end up owning a music store or counting bacteria in a blood sample? For many of us, our adult interests mirrored our childhood aspirations although the interpretation changes somewhat over the years.

I always dreamed of being a teacher. In my teen years I loved to tutor my peers in Math or English during summer vacation to help them pass their departmental exams. I read voraciously and put pen to paper for fun – spewing out poetry or prose. All things about education turned my crank – except studying. I was a geek in hiding. Did that have any bearing on my career of choice? You bet it did and now that I have spent years working at a post-secondary institution, advising students and coordinating programs, I can still say I love what I do. Education is my field of choice but a teacher I am not – at least not in the classroom!

As a grandparent, I get to listen to my grandchildren as they play out their adult lives in their child minds. It is so fun to watch them build bridges, crash cars, play air guitar, video their Barbie dolls, sew aprons and bake cupcakes. How can you and I, as grandparents, encourage them to seek education and a career that will be fulfilling and suited to their special talents and skills? Watch and listen to them first.

When I had the opportunity to go to the Winnipeg Children’s Museum a number of years ago with two sets of my grandchildren, I watched them explore and expose their very varied interests and skills. Two grandsons were both attracted to a sandbox play area but one immediately grabbed the biggest front end loader and started noisily pushing sand around and breaking any pre-existing block walls in his way. The other grandson took a pile of blocks and with precision and planning began to build a tower with great skill and focus. One granddaughter got totally caught up trying to make a large size electric shovel perform tasks using levers and buttons and the other one gravitated to the old fashioned ticket wicket in the train station and took over all plans giving directions and selling tickets. They all ran to the TV station but some only wanted to jump up and down and dance on the stage; others were much more interested in putting a very carefully planned weather report together with pictures and script. And in the Lego room – well, there is definitely a future engineer in this group and maybe a wrecking crew supervisor!

Once you observe them, you can encourage them to keep on developing their interests and skills. If you have a granddaughter, like I do, that has a passion for fashion design, creating elaborate costumes with scissors, fabric and some thread and then filming her models (Barbies) in various situations, then you can take her to a fashion show or local art school to see other fabric art that might be an inspiration or introduce her to film and video production at a summer camp in a local post secondary institution. If you know of someone in the arts who would be willing to spend some time with her, whether it is in fashion design or stage/film production, maybe you could introduce her to them and even encourage a tour if possible. Or, is there a future mechanic, pilot, dentist, or nurse in your midst? – use your imagination and open the doors that are within your grasp to shine some light on your grandson or granddaughter’s dreams.

You can also encourage your grandchildren with gifts that help them continue to develop their interests – whether it is a camera for a shutterbug or quality art supplies for a budding artist – oil those wheels of creativity so they know that you are interested in them and proud of their skills as they explore their world.

Introducing your grandchild to the world of further education and all of the career choices out there that might relate to their interests or skills that make them shine in school or on the playground may be as easy as providing them with an opportunity to explore first hand on a campus in your city. Many post-secondary institutions have summer camps geared toward this exact thing. Your grandchild can explore everything from baking to robots. Or, if you child loves animals, source out a school offering courses on the care of pets from dental to minor injuries treatment and even prepare him or her for an after-school job as a pet sitter or dog walker with that little extra knowledge. Did you know you could perform CPR on an animal? Well, I found a course for kids that teaches how! There are myriads of fun choices out there and the sky is truly the limit.

Many of us have coached our own children and told them that they need to work hard, follow their hearts and pursue their dreams – I remember a poster on my daughter’s wall stating that very thing. But hearts can be divided and dreams can bounce in many directions all at once. As children, we need to hear that we can do something well. As grandparents, we can help by cheering them on, providing opportunities to broaden their horizons and, above all else, give them that love they can depend on as they experiment, fall down, and get up to try one more time.

Here’s one specific activity I came across that might kick your baby boomer mojo into gear as your grandchild’s career coach. Every time I come across a concrete idea – not just theoretical – I get excited and say YEAH! – I could do that! Maybe I should just figure out how to pin it but just in case you aren’t into pinning…..

Here’s a GRAND idea from “GRAND: The Digital Magazine for Grandparents and Their Families” (in an article written by Karla Sullivan, June edition)

Create a framed resume for your grandchild to hang on their bedroom wall or placed strategically on a desk. In resume format, highlight the grandchild’s name, address, phone number, etc in an attractive font. Provide a summary of your grandchild’s character traits; energetic, enthusiastic, passion for others. List accomplishments/responsibilities; volunteering to take care of the neighbors pets while on vacation. List awards; that coloring contest won at the local movie theatre. List grades; add teachers’ comments to define skills. Change the resume up as the grandchild grows or create several to identify age and interests. Have your grandchildren assist you in telling about themselves.

Rock on, Grandma and Grandpa! You can make a difference!

This blog posting is not a form of psychological counselling, advice, therapy, or assessment and should not be used as such by any individual. This blog posting is provided only as an article intended to encourage thought and discourse. For specific psychology related services, please contact an appropriate healthcare provider.

One Comment

  • Gramma Jamma | 2012.10.05 at 12:53 PM

    So happy that the ideas are getting launched in other directions! Thanks for your comment.