Although Bryna Nelson Paston’s tongue-in-cheek book, How to Be the Perfect Grandma: Live. Love. Spoil. will have you laughing hysterically, her final chapter in this new second edition might make you shed a tear.
Paston’s six grandchildren are now ten years older than when she wrote the first edition and the baby Alexis is a baby no more at 12. As I read her last chapter titled “Grandma Who?” I felt a sense of panic knowing that even over-achieving grandmas can’t hold on to their grandchildren when they become teenagers.
“So despite all the sleepovers, trips to the zoo, picnics in the bed, and elegant dress-up parties at your house,” says Paston, “the window of opportunity will close and your grandchildren will want their friends, their sports, and their lives without you!”
If you pay attention to Paston’s rules, all 33 of them, then you’ll secure your spot as one of the most important parts of your grandchildren’s lives.
Paston’s irreverent humor kept me laughing out loud right from the start with Rule 1: There are rules. Follow them or go directly to Grandma jail. Here’s how she describes the problem we grandmas face—the generation in the middle.
Dealing with your kid and your kid’s mate while you become the most relevant person in your grandchild’s life is tricky at best, and downright impossible at worst. If they would just leave us alone—us and the little kids—we would be just fine.
She admits that her children have developed a good sense of humor since they are often the brunt of many of her jokes. She refers to her daughter-in-law as “General Georgette Patton” when it comes to rules and suggests that if you have a daughter without kids, you tell her you have “great expectations and your grandmother clock is ticking louder than her biological clock.”
Paston ends with some good advice we should all heed: Try to stay in the moment. Stay in contact with your grandchildren no matter how many phone calls go unanswered. Keep busy with your own life. And if you are very, very lucky, someday your adorable, loving grandchildren will come back. All it takes is time.
Note: How to Be the Perfect Grandma was reprinted in 2018 with a new cover.