I’m the grandma of four beautiful and loving grandchildren. They teach me a great deal about life and love. They give more to me than I’ll ever be able to give to them. This past week, though, being a grandma was a little different.

I was the “adopted grandma” to 17 cousins between the ages of 7 months and 17 years. We vacationed in Minnesota with our daughter and son-in-law’s extended family. Unfortunately, the other grandparents have passed, so we were the official oldsters. We tried to live up to the honorary role and not make a mess of the family environment we were invited to join. The best way to tell you about our experience is to relate it to the five senses.

Sounds

You could hear a baby screaming because they were hungry, a teenager screaming because they were hungry or pushed into the lake, and a grandpa squealing because he caught a 26-inch Northern Pike.

Sights

Things weren’t always perfect, but everything went amazingly well. There was an activity for everyone at all times of the day. Walking, canoeing, fishing, swimming, golfing, biking…you name it. When 31 individuals are in separate cabins but just across the path from one another, you witness a lot of love, sharing and helping.

Tastes

Feeding 31 people can be a challenge, and the plan was for one family to be responsible for one evening meal. Sounds simple enough, right? John and I hosted the first night. We served pulled pork. It tasted great, but we failed to recognize how many teenagers were with us and had forgotten how much they actually eat. Funny, our daughters never ate that much when they were growing up!

There was an “adopted granddaughter” who loved our communal HUGE plastic jar filled with animal crackers. Think Sam’s Club size. She loved the animal crackers so much her parents told us to limit her helpings to one handful a visit (Please note that she visited our cabin multiple times each day).

One day, we caught her with both of her hands in the jar. She had each hand filled with animal crackers. The only problem was she couldn’t remove her hands from the jar. Minor detail. We all laughed so hard. It was like an Abbott and Costello routine, facial expressions included. Yes, we allowed her to remove one hand at a time and keep the animal crackers. I think this youngster will grow up to be a great politician.

Smells

One day, I was on a quiet walk along the country road. Surprisingly, there were no mosquitoes, and the view was terrific. A slice of heaven. That is, it was a slice of heaven until I rounded a bend and saw a dead skunk in the middle of the road. After the smell hit me, I started to run. Well, running is a bit of a stretch. It was more of a fast walk/shuffle. The other smell was from the seven month old’s diapers. No more needs to be said on the subject!

Touch

Another “adopted granddaughter” asked me if I wanted to take a paddleboat out on the lake with her. Wow! An invitation from a little girl who sees me once a year. I usually just watched or tagged along with everyone else. I’m thinking I must be doing an amazing job as an adopted grandma. Now, I was being included. Joy upon joy! I soon realized she was much smarter than the average six-year-old.

She asked me to join her in the paddleboat so she could get a free ride to the large raft where the older kids were. A free ride because her legs didn’t even reach the paddleboat peddles. I hung around, worried she’d need some adult supervision, then quickly realized she was a better swimmer than I am. Also, she was wearing a life jacket. She wanted to play with the older kids and had solved her problem. I was impressed by her craftiness. She may also grow up to be a politician!

The end of the week always brings an award ceremony. John and I won the award for being the most diverse in our activities. Biking, running, fishing, walking, frisbee, babysitting, reading…the list goes on and on. It was an extensive list because we wanted to share the love and experience the joy of our extended family. We were certainly the winners!

Nancy Becker

Nancy Becker

Grandkids & Grandparents

I have four grandchildren ages 14-17. In some ways, I’m a very typical grandma, always proud of everything the kids do and wanting to help support them in whatever way I can. In other ways, I’m not very typical. My goal as a blogger is to share my thoughts and experiences that I think are funny and meaningful as I adventure through grandmahood.

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