I have a picture taken in 1974 of my two youngest children sitting on Santa's lap. My daughter is composed and calm. My son, who was one year old, is red-faced and screaming. My grandchildren love to look at this picture. My grandson says that it should be titled: "Santa: Making Kids Cry Since 1974."
When I look at that picture, I feel slightly ashamed for putting my son in that position. I'm sure that I rescued him as soon as his terror became apparent. But I think that's why I like this week's picture of a boy -- slightly older, it's true -- having what appears to be a relaxed heart-to-heart with Santa.
Amanda Rock, Guide to Preschoolers, has some hints for calming kids' fears of Santa that you can pass on to your grandkids' parents. I say to pass on these hints because observing boundaries means that grandparents don't take the grandkids to see Santa unless specifically requested to do so. In fact, in one 2001 grandparent visitation case, one of the parents' grievances was an unauthorized visit to Santa's lap.
Do you have any Santa stories to share? Leave a comment below.
Photo © J. W. Lake
When I was parenting, high chairs were mostly the same -- either wood or plastic, with a slide-on tray and flimsy straps to secure the child. Today there are dozens of styles of chairs, including chairs that are perfect for a grandparent's house, and most have impressive safety features. That's why it's puzzling that chair-related injuries have been rising instead of falling.
A recent study by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Children's National Hospital shows an unexplained uptick in child injuries related to high chairs and booster chairs. In the U.S., 24 children a day are treated for such injuries. The researchers are unsure why injuries are increasing, but say that making sure that children are strapped in securely is the best way of reducing injuries. Two-thirds of the injuries involved children who were standing or climbing when they fell, indicating that they were not properly strapped in. Some parents assume that the tray will hold their child in place, but children are really good at wriggling out of tight places.
A related article on the Today website points out one hazard that I had never thought of: children tipping over their chairs by using their feet to push off from an table or counter. Although it's tempting to draw a high chair close to the table for ease of feeding, it's best to keep them farther away for safety's sake, experts say.
Photo © Andersen Ross / Getty Images
Some grandparents love buying gifts for their grandchildren. I did, too, when my grandchildren were small. Now that they are all tweens or teens, I must admit that it's not as much fun. It's almost impossible to know all the items that they already have, and it's even more difficult to know which items and brands are cool and which are totally dorky. I think that's why most grandparents resort to asking the parents what the grandchildren would like.
Miss Manners recently received a complaint from parents about this type of request from grandparents. "It's hard enough for us to keep coming up with original and thoughtful gift ideas for our daughter, let alone having to maintain a standing library of ideas to feed her grandparents," the parent grumbled.
Miss Manners gave the grandparents credit for wanting to give actual presents, rather than a gift card or cash. Her solution is to give the grandparents gift-giving advice, rather than specific items to purchase: "Vanessa really likes building things."
That's good advice for younger children. For older ones, saying that the child likes video games or needs new jeans just isn't going to cut it. In my opinion, if parents don't want the burden of returning gifts that aren't right or of being stuck with unusable items, they should help out the grandparents as much as possible. What do you think? Leave a comment below.
When I hear from estranged grandparents, more often than not, they say they have no idea why they have been cut off from their kids and grandchildren. Usually they seem genuinely puzzled.
I gained a little insight into this situation while researching a story on adult children who "divorce" their parents. The website Estranged Stories has surveyed children who have cut their parents out of their lives and the parents who were excised. Two-thirds of the children said that they have "concretely shared" their reasons for the estrangement with their parents, but only 40% of the parents said they had been told.
It's useless to speculate about whether the fault lies with the party doing the telling or the one doing the listening. Obviously the circuit of communication isn't being completed. Still, it's worth remembering that effective communication with adult children includes listening, too.
Chronicle Books is continuing the Give Books campaign that they began in 2012. Pledge to give a book this holiday season, and Chronicle Books will donate a book to a child in need. You can tweet (on Twitter) or pin (on Pinterest) your pledge.
The goal for Give Books is 10,000 pledges, which translates to 10,000 books in the hands of kids. Research shows a strong correlation between the number of books in a home and academic achievement. The link is stronger than that between socioeconomic status and achievement. Yet take a look at these statistics:
- High income communities: Children average almost 200 age-appropriate books in their homes.
- Middle income communities: Children average 54 books in their homes.
- Low income families: 61% have no children's books in their homes. (Statistics from the Heart of America Foundation)
When I taught school, my traditional post-holiday question was to ask my students how many of them received at least one book as a gift. They were always thrilled to tell me about the books they had received. This holiday season we have the chance to bring that kind of joy to kids that we don't even know, by giving books to the people that we do know. What a deal.
Image © Chronicle Books
Modern families have made an art form of announcing that there's a baby on the way, but this is one of the cutest announcements that I've seen. Posted on social networks or a family website or sent via email, such photos let friends and extended family know the happy news. Grandparents-to-be should probably be told ahead of time so that they don't pass out over their computers.
This particular announcement also serves as a gender reveal. You did notice the pink background for the ultrasound, didn't you? This photo is the handiwork of Sarah of A Little of This, A Little of That. Sarah does pretty much everything beautifully.
I remember learning about one grandchild through an ultrasound tucked into a greeting card and another from a pair of booties tucked into a gift bag. Honestly, though, the news itself overshadowed the method of delivery.
Have you used or heard of any unusual ways of spreading the news? Leave a comment below.
Photo © SBS Photography
More for New Grandparents:
In the run-up to Thanksgiving Day, I put off exercising. After spending most of Thanksgiving Day on my feet, I woke up the next day with an achy back that gradually intensified into full-blown back spasms. Ouch!
It is tempting to skip exercise when we have a lot to do. But as the holiday pace intensifies, take a tip from me and stick to your exercise program. On really busy days, at least do a little stretching. And don't stay on your feet shopping or cooking once you are fatigued. Your posture and gait deteriorate with fatigue, and muscle strains may result.
As much as you love them, grandchildren can also cause grandparent injuries. As soon as your grandchildren are old enough, enlist their help to keep from getting hurt. Toddlers can be taught to tense their muscles when being picked up, which helps immensely. Grandchildren should also be taught to keep pathways clear of objects that can cause falls.
As soon as my back eases a bit more, I'll be back in my water aerobics and yoga classes. I think I've learned my lesson.
How do you stay healthy during the holidays? Leave a comment below.
Photo © Barry Austin / Getty
A friend who has three small children just Facebooked about her Christmas tradition. She has 25 holiday books wrapped up, and the kids will get to open one a day, with the final one opened on Christmas Day.
Grandparents can get in on the fun by contributing an old-fashioned classic. My family's favorites are Santa Mouse and Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree. Of course, you can't go wrong with a nice edition of The Night Before Christmas, which also happens to be available as a Hallmark recordable book. Hallmark's other holiday titles are The Greatest Gift: A Story of the Nativity, At Christmas and Always, I Love You and Rudolph. Usually priced at $29.95, these titles are available in Hallmark stores for $19.95 from now until Christmas Eve. See details.
If you're a long-distance grandparent, you can ship your contribution, and the grandchildren get the fun of getting a delivery, too.
What are your favorite holiday books? Leave a comment below.
Photo © S. Adcox
More Holiday Book Suggestions:
I missed the Black Friday sales. Our Thanksgiving celebrations tend to last for two days and require an equal amount of recuperation time. Tomorrow, however, is Cyber Monday, which means that I don't have to leave home to hit the sales. If you're too busy to shop, the good news is that online retailers are offering more times and ways to save. In fact, many Cyber Monday deals have already started and will last for a few days. Here are more hints to help you save:
- Use coupon sites like RetailMeNot to find a discount.
- Look at shipping costs. Retailers have learned that free shipping is a magnet for buyers.
- If you can't find free shipping, some retailers will let you shop online and pick up purchases in stores. A word of warning: Inventories aren't constantly updated, so the website may show an item in stock when actually it is sold out, as you will learn when you go to pick it up.
If you're shopping for toys for the grandkids, I've found that online toy stores have a much wider selection than standard toy stores.
Learn more about Cyber Monday. Scroll down to see all the sales.
Image © Joe Raedle / Getty
Gift-giving can be hard for grandparents. Today it can require knowing what sizes everyone wears, which clothing brands are hot, what video game systems grandchildren own and what games they already own. If we master all that, we must avoid these gift-giving pitfalls as well. It's no wonder that most of my grandparent friends fill requests from family members, or buy gift cards.
I've resorted to gift cards on numerous occasions, but I like giving actual gifts much better. That's why I'm happy I found Giftster to make shopping hassle-free and reduce holiday stress. Register on Giftster -- it's free -- create a group, and invite family members to join and create their personal gift lists. Users can insert links to facilitate shopping and can also give their selections ratings of 1-5 stars. A gift preference page allows users to note sizes and enter mailing addresses. It also includes, "What Not to Get Me." (I can't wait to see what people put down for that!)
Gift-giving was never so easy. Unfortunately, paying the bills is still hard.
Have you used a service such as Giftster? Leave a comment below.
More Gift-Giving Help:
- Gift Ideas for Grandchildren of All Ages
- Gifts for Grandparents
- Inexpensive Stocking Stuffers
- Sentimental Gifts
Photo © Sharon Dominick