Thursday, December 08, 2016


Someone recently said to me that I see my grandchild more often than any grandmother he knew. I gave that some thought. And I realized that there is a huge disparity between time with grandchildren that grandparents spend in Poland and time with grandchildren here, in the U.S.

Is this an artifact of the kind of families I know here? They live in the American fashion: grandparents live far away from their kids and grandkids. Some grandfolk still work. And in a few instances, the familial relations are such that perhaps great distance between families is a good thing. But honestly -- I think there's more going on here: I think it's also a cultural thing. (I'm writing only about two parent families. I don't know very much about the involvement of grandparents here in single parent situations: I imagine even in America, their role is significant, though maybe not.)

In Poland, at least early on in a child's life, a grandparent will often look after the child. Moreover, children are frequently "dropped off" -- after school, for the weekend, or for longer visits. I saw that in my sister's apartment building, where the little ones came in to spend a few days with the grandparents who live below her. A routine occurrence. I see that in my architect's family, where it's a given that the grandparents step in when the young couple goes away for a weekend, or after school, or before preschool years. I recognize it in my friends' homes: the children know their grandparents well and the visits are numerous (even where grandparents still work), usually because the parents need to or want to get away for a bit.

And so it seems natural to me that if I live in the same town as my daughter (I do), and if we are great friends (we are), and if I am retired (I am), I would go in and out of Snowdrop's days fluidly, frequently and, too, with great enthusiasm. By my standards, this is as normal and obvious as anything. I find it interesting that by the standards of my adopted home country, it appears rather quaint and unique.

Breakfast. Lost in thought...

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Pick up of my granddaughter. I am the only gaga that does this on a regular basis in her "class."

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Snowdrop at the farmette is like the gift that keeps on giving.

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Raiding the lunch box with ahah. Let's make grilled cheese sandwiches out of leftovers!

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Can I play with the little chickens?

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I wake her from her nap. Unfortunately I need to hustle, because I have an appointment to get to. I do the unpardonable: I bribe her to get moving with a bit of a cookie (It's snack time after all!).

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The sleepy girl is puzzled and a bit discombobulated. But tell her she's going home to play with snowmen on her tree with mommy there and the world is a happy place again.

There is this the wonderful thing that grandparents do (in my mind): they teach a child to tolerate people who are not quite like their parents (older comes to mind). Too, they allow the child to believe that love happens outside the home, but that in the end, they will go home. How good is that!


  1. Hope you know how lucky you are... and how lucky Snowdrop is!
    Your accounts of Polish extended families make me wonder if that's why Buffalo has much the same culture... grandparents often pick up the children from the school where I taught, kids have plenty of cousins at the same school, etc. It surprised me when I first came to WNY since I come from a family that's moved just about every generation for at least 200 years... I'm definitely not a Western New Yorker. Buffalo has a strong Polish component... Dingus Day is huge, so is Polish food at the Broadway Market, especially near Easter... so maybe that's why there are so many extended families like those you recall from Poland.

    1. Yes, I think you're right. I was really taken aback when I was told that what I did was "extreme." I think to the rest of the world, the way families do (or do not) maintain close contact in America is rather extreme. And BTW, I hear wonderful stories about how Snowdrop enjoys her weekly visits with her Buffalo grandparents!

    2. The Buffalo grandparents sure enjoy those visits... and your pictures and accounts every day... wonderful to watch her grow!

  2. When K and I moved back to the States over a decade ago, my parents stayed where they had been living while we rented. That was for two years. We relocated out of Asheville and bought a house, and my folks' house was on the market within weeks of that. We're very fortunate to have them only about five miles from us, and they take the Boy every Monday because he doesn't have preschool then. It's a real blessing, for us, for them, and for our kids.

    1. It is. But your family is half Polish, so I'm not surprised you would see it that way! :)


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