The Uber car we’re in pulls up to the “Washington House,” the name we and the grands call their home. We see our three grandchildren in the big picture window of the house, jumping up and down – which is what we’d be doing if we weren’t so grown-up. As we walk from the car up the driveway, the kids dart from the picture window to fling open the front door and jump into our arms without hesitation.
Few things in life top this moment.
When we step inside the house, we kiss and hug and squeeze and pass kids back and forth and maybe get to briefly hug our son and daughter-in-law before we’re dragged over to the couch by the grandkids for a pretend tea party they’ve set up for our arrival. Unpacking our suitcases won’t get done for quite a while.
Being able to visit in person is extremely important (I almost wrote Uber-important!) to building and maintaining a relationship, especially with children under five years old.
Sure, we frequently video chat and talk on the phone, but grandkids need to periodically hug us, kiss us, have us cut up their chicken tenders, have fun with us giving them a bath, and zoom down the playground slide into our arms. We need the visit, because we want all those things, too.
I find that grands want to show us their “stuff” – Hot Wheels collection, books, the party invitation they received, the new tricycle. I remember when two-year-old Fiona dragged us back to her bedroom right after we arrived to show us her new bedspread with the owl designs on it.
Young grandchildren love seeing grandparents on their couch and doing dishes in their kitchen. During our visits, one of our grandchildren will sometimes say out of the blue, “I can’t believe you’re here.”
When you and I pay a visit to the grandkids, we’re also making memories that become part of their home environment. Your presence in the home lasts far longer than the length of your visit! For instance:
- If you and your grandson had tons of fun playing veterinarian with a collection of stuffed animals, even a month from now when he takes the Dalmatian to bed with him, he might remember how silly-you tried to use the stethoscope on each of the dog’s spots.
- Days after you leave, your granddaughter might tell her mother, “Grandpa let me have my orange juice in a coffee cup just like he was using!”
Alas, as important as home visits are, they certainly aren’t effortless. Visits involve time-consuming preparation — for the visitor and the hosts. For people who work, getting time away from the job is a big factor to deal with. Travel expenses, ranging from tolerable to astronomical, are no small matter whether you’re going by car or plane, motorcycle, or motorhome.
Because finances can be an obstacle in some families, if the grandparents are financially better off than their adult child, the grandparents usually foot the cost. In other families, the grandchildren’s parents have more extra dollars than the senior citizens on a fixed income, so they’ll pick up major expenses when a grandparent is coming to visit. I’m extremely grateful that we’re able to travel from Ohio to Washington state about three or four times a year. We search for the best airline rates, save up mileage points, travel at usually cheaper times of year, give up some other travel dreams, forego spending the money on other wants, and all the rest. But when I board that plane and know my arms around grandkids is only hours away, I never for a moment stop appreciating how lucky I am.
How often are you able to visit your out-of-town grandkids? Please leave a Comment below.