Benefit Each Other

When our sons were young they were often involved in trades.  Their trades involved giving an item that was no longer a precious treasure, for an item someone else owned which appealed as a precious treasure.  We tried to help them understand that items did not have to be of equal dollar value.   One might be willing to give up a pricey G.I. Joe vehicle for a coveted baseball card. This was a good trade if first, the vehicle was no longer being played with by the owner and the baseball card was one being sought after. And, secondly, if the owner of the card didn’t really care about it, but desperately wanted the vehicle.  Both parties had to believe they were getting exactly what they desired and maybe even the better part of the deal. This way both parties benefited from the other. (Of course there were times when both sides became angry and the whole deal was abandoned.)

H and K

My husband and granddaughter

Relationships are similar ­- both sides should benefit from the other.  Hopefully this happens in families and across generations in positive and healthy ways.  I am thinking specifically between grandparents and grandchildren.  Hopefully grandparents are willing and able to give time and attention which grandchildren need from them.

Both parties can give unconditional love and acceptance.  Both parties need this.  Both parties can give attention and share their lives without criticism.  Emotional bonds can be developed which build self-esteem. Who doesn’t wish to be cherished?

Grandparents can offer serenity and time to be, go and do with grandchildren. Grandparents can tell stories of their own childhood or that of their grandchild’s parents.   Even elderly people with memory loss issues can usually share memories from their childhood.

Grandchildren can offer energy, laughter, movement and vibrancy, which older people need.  Babies bring joy.  Toddlers and preschoolers say and do adorable things.  Some children and teens teach loyalty and others patience and justice.

Grandma and SS

My mom and my youngest son

As these grandchildren grow up, they will each gain knowledge and skills which can be used to assist their aging grandparents.  I am barely a senior citizen and several of my young grandchildren have helped me better use my smart phone.

We need each other.  We can listen to and learn from each other.  We can support and love each other. We can benefit from each other.

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How to Party

5 piggy birthdayIt is party season.  Do you know how to party?  Some collegiates think partying  is a required course.  I am thinking more along the lines of family and children’s celebrations.   The time between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day is a busy party season.  There are always a few graduations to attend.  These might include high school, middle school, college and even kindergarten or preschool.   Milestones are fun to celebrate.

My own wedding fell in that time period.  So did the weddings of three of my children and the birthdays of three (not the same three) of my children, plus mine.  Oh, my!

Anytime there is a party to host or to attend there are some things we need to know and practice.  Like most skills we improve with practice, which means we might be fairly awful at the start. In other words, your children might be awful at party behavior. They probably need to be reminded of some or all of their party skills prior to every party and maybe privately and gently during the party, also.

Try to be patient with them.  Here are a few party skills to practice.

As a guest:

  1. This means please respond.  Say yes I will be attending or give your regrets. Don’t leave them guessing. Do this in a timely manner.  Not the day before.
  2. Take an appropriate gift.
  3. Be happy for the guest of honor and express it.
  4. During gift opening be engaging but not overwhelming. Don’t crowd them.
  5. Accept offered food and drink, but use some restraint and don’t pig out. This is not your opportunity to have a meal of only chips and cupcakes.
  6. Say thanks to the host(s).
  7. If you have a close relationship with the host then offer to assist with preparations, food, or clean up.

cupcake

As a host:

  1. Invitations (written or oral) should go out 3-6 weeks in advance.
  2. Make sure your home is clean enough that guest will feel welcome and comfortable. Perfection is not required.
  3. Greet your guests and focus on them.
  4. Make sure guest know how to find the food, bathrooms, and activities.
  5. While opening gifts be thankful. Do not express disappointment, dissatisfaction, or criticism. All gifts costs time and/or money and the gesture should be appreciated.
  6. Interact with all guests of all ages, not just your favorites.
  7. Thank each one for attending. Say goodbye as they depart.
  8. Written thank you notes are becoming as extinct as dinosaurs, typewriters, and landlines, but are lovely to receive. I encourage you to do this even if it takes you months.

Like anything we think is important enough to practice, these party skills will become easier and make every party better.  Parties occur frequently.  With practice your child could be the favorite party guest or host.   Keep Calm. . .  and Party On.

2006_0507(012)

Me, #2 son, and daughter all graduated from the same ollege on the same day

 

Cousins are the Best

Cousins are like candy, the more you have, the better.  They are sweet and sour and wonderful, some are squishy and some are hard.   I hope you are blessed with many of them.  Cousins can be like extra siblings or better.  A cousin can be the sister or brother that you do not have.  A cousin can be your first playmate and best friend.

Barb, L & D

My cousin, my sister and I

How many cousins are enough?   My children have 8 first cousins.  I had 37 and my husband had almost that many too.  Some of ours have passed away.  Nearly all have married (a few multiple times) have children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren.   All of which, equates to more cousins.  No one has any control over how many cousins they have.  You get what you get (many life lessons there).

Make time for your children to know their cousins, even the ones who live far away.  Consider vacationing together or just visiting at their house.  Invite them to your house.   One precious memory I have was when my parents, siblings and their families went with my family to Starved Rock State Park to spend the day with my aunt, uncle and their children and grandchildren.  I only wish we had done it more than once.  Throughout our lives friends come and go and change, but cousins endure with us.   Our common family history and experiences bond us together.

Lilicia Park deer

Me, with our 4 children (daughter in back pack), plus 2 of their cousins at Lilacia Park, Lombard, IL

Connecting with cousins also gives us opportunities to relate to people beyond our own age and gender. I had far more boy cousins than girl cousins.   I learned to interact and relate to my boy cousins in a very natural way without the weirdness that often accompanies cross-gender friendships. (At age 14 there was one whom I wished could have been my boyfriend).   I recall having fun pestering some older cousins (trying to count freckles) and sometimes being thrilled and terrified by older cousins.  I admired and adored them and loved being with them.

Among my grandchildren it is fun to watch the cousins play together.  Generally the boys play with the boys and the girls with the girls.  Younger and older play together.  My heart is warmed at their friendships.  I heard that last summer at junior high church camp my grandson and my petite granddaughter who are only 2 months apart in age but many inches apart in height hung out with each other and often sat together.  He is caring and protective and she is sweetness.   I am certain that at camp someday soon they will clearly identify each other as cousins.

Attend your family gatherings at holidays, weddings, showers, funerals, and reunions.  If those really big gatherings are overwhelming, then plan some frequent little ones.  May your family be a blessing in your life.  If it is not, I give you my condolences, and may you have wisdom to set healthy boundaries.