How are you coping during the Coronavirus? Have these challenging times affected your relationships with your grandchildren? I asked my GaGa Sisterhood members this question and got some wonderful stories about the creative ways we’re staying connected.
The coronavirus has created so many challenges but I imagine the hardest for us grandmas is not being able to see our grandchildren. April 26th was my granddaughter’s 17th birthday. For the first time in her life, I wasn’t able to celebrate with her in person. I was overcome with sadness until a GaGa suggested I make a video and send it to her.
As soon as I started working on the video, my spirits lifted. I reminisced about witnessing her birth and the miraculous moment she entered the world — with her eyes wide open. I realized that was a perfect metaphor for the way she is in the world — with her eyes wide open! She’s an artist, musician and avid reader. On our hour-long phone calls, I learn the most fascinating bits of information I would never encounter on my own — about Anime, Cosplay, medicine, movies not to mention how to navigate Instagram!
On the morning of her birthday, I called her on FaceTime. Through the wonders of technology, I got to see her watching my video on her mom’s phone while I watched her on my laptop! Even though it was very different from previous years, this birthday memory will always be truly memorable.
Here are some stories of GaGas who’ve found creative ways to stay connected with their grandchildren, family and friends.
Every Tuesday at ten o’clock, Jan and several neighbors meet on their street, coffee in hand, and catch up with each other. “We’re getting to know one another in a much deeper way.”
She also loves her weekly Zoom Spanish class practicing with friends. Even though they can’t sit around a table together, she loves seeing their faces.
She’s also been delivering letters from her Disaster Preparedness Team to neighbors, letting them know where they can find help and support. The response has been hugely positive and she believes they’ll all be far more connected when that earthquake hits!
She confesses that she’s been forced to accept the distance from her granddaughters and look for other ways to feed her soul. She does get giddy with FaceTime calls and photos of them, and writes them cards every week. But the break has given her avenues of enjoyment that she never had time to fully discover or embrace.
Frances couldn’t be with her granddaughter on her 13th birthday. So she and her husband snuck up to her granddaughter’s house while she was out, and ‘chalked’ her street and driveway! They haven’t had that kind of kid fun in years! Her granddaughter was really touched when she returned home to see their art and message!
Martha was able to celebrate her granddaughter’s third birthday with an outing to a local park. In separate cars, she followed her granddaughter and parents to a huge open space with only one other person flying a kite. Since becoming a grandma, she keeps a stash of various items in her car trunk for any occasion that might arise. When she heard her granddaughter say she wanted to fly kite, Martha reached into her trunk and pulled out two ready-to-fly kites! She handed one to her son and the other to Nika who was able to fly a kite for the very first time!
She feels her 6-year old grandson is having the most trouble adjusting to the restrictions. He seemed more depressed on a recent FaceTime call. He misses his friends at his new school. Martha discovered a first-grade teacher who reads a story every day live at 10:30 PDT on Facebook. She messaged him and told him about her grandson. During his reading of Stone Soup the next day, he sent her grandson a special greeting before reading the story. You can find Peter Limata’s Story Time on YouTube.
Ricka has twin 13-year old grandchildren age 13 who like to play hearts. She found Trickster cards website which has a virtual hearts game that they can play together. They played on Zoom so they could chat while playing. If Hearts isn’t your cup of tea, they also have Bridge, Spades, and Pinochle.
Marla has been sad to be away from her two little guys who are both under two. She’s having “Songtime with Mimi” and “Storytime with Mimi.” She sent them books, ordered copies of the same books for herself and they read together on FaceTime. She recommends doing the same thing with older grandchildren by picking out a favorite chapter book.
Kitty made her 21-month old grandson, Henry a peekaboo counting book for an Easter present. Each page has a tab that says: “I see 1,” etc. They read together on FaceTime and her grandson peeks under the tab and sees a sticker of a fire engine, cat, or dog. Now she’s working on a counting book from 6-10.
LD is staying more connected with her family than she ever has. Every Sunday, she and her two sisters, their children, and grandchildren have a “Girls Zoom Hour.” They are meeting together from Missouri, Northern and Southern California, New York, and Annecy, France. Recently, they added a theme to their get-togethers to spice it up for the grandchildren. They had a DIY hat day – making hats with things from around the house. Her 11-year old and 7-year old grandsons were SO proud of their creations and loved seeing what others had done. The following week they had a bakeoff. Each family made something, brought it to the Zoom meeting, showed it off, and then ate it while talking. The boys made cupcakes with sprinkles. LD’s younger sister collected the recipes and then distributed them to the families. They have several more ideas for the next few weeks – all of which were suggested by her grandsons, Cole and Elliott. This week, because they are all so bored with lunch foods in their house, they’ll talk about their favorite lunch – past, present, and future.
Diana and her two granddaughters, Maddie 15 and Ellie 12, are doing the “Bible Squad.” They meet Tuesdays and Thursdays mornings via zoom and Diana hosts Bible stories. They usually read a story in the Bible and then watch a cartoon about the story on YouTube. She’s made a study template that they fill out for each one listing the main characters, key points of the plot, and the message of the story. So far they’ve read Esther, Adam and Eve, Moses, Noah, Jonah, Daniel in the Lion’s Den, Joseph, and the Ten commandments. Now they’re starting on David. Diane says she’s doing this “just to give them a little background on this interesting part of our culture.” She calls it “Bible for Agnostics!” She’s had fun with it and enjoys this new connection as she learns what they think about these fascinating characters.
Sometimes challenges bring out the best in us. As Plato first said, “necessity is the mother of invention.” And grandmas have always been great inventors!
Please share your stories of how you’re staying connected with your grandchildren during the Coronavirus.