essays

The Grand Life

boomers guide book coverNot surprisingly, boomers have a book to turn to as they approach or attain grandparenthood. Allan and Kathryn Zullo, have written A Boomer’s Guide to Grandparenting because the image most boomers have of themselves is “nothing like the stereotypical gray-haired grandmas and grandpas who sat in rocking chairs, baked cookies, whittled toys and told stories of the ‘good old days.’" They also point out that the average age of a first-time grandparent in the U.S. is 48.

I guess hearing yourself called grandpa or grandma must come as a shock. Some celebrities recently revealed that they have resisted the moniker. Goldie Hawn is called Glam-Ma and Blythe Danner insists that grandkids Apple and Moses (I know....WTF) call her Woof. I don’t get it either.

I understand that it’s a life-changing event and it must also spark a reevaluation of one’s self-identity. If you’re still working and lead an active social life, making room and time for bonding with your grandkids becomes an important consideration (hence, the guide.....boomers love guides). And if you really want to feel inadequate, author Allan Zullo writes, “What can be more important than playing a major role in the life of a child? If you don’t get involved with your grandchildren right now, what will pass you by is your opportunity to make a positive impact in their lives.”

ask me about my grandchile stickerThat’s right. If you screw this up, the grands are screwed as well. Apparently, studies show that children with strong relationships with their grandparents are more confident and well-adjusted in their lives. Sounds awfully subjective to me (how does anyone measure confidence and well-adjustment?), but I’ll grant you that grandparents can have a positive influence on the grands.

Still, I can’t help being a bit skeptical of these type of guides and the chapter titles did not allay my anxiety. Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows; Talking ‘Bout Our Generation; Good Vibrations, I’ve Got to Be Me; The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face; Bridge Over Trouble Water. Is this some kind of Oldies radio show or a guide to grandparenting?

As is often the case, one of the Amazon book reviews may have hit the nail on the head.

“I'd hoped that A Boomer's Guide to Grandparenting would offer an overview of such changes, but aside from a page and a half of useful information, it is, unfortunately, a series of anecdotes about how the new generation of richer, healthier, and all-around cooler grandparents feel about their grandchildren. (Predictably, they feel about the same as grandparents have always felt -- thrilled.) “

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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