During the pandemic, we’ve been called upon lately to help with teaching our grandkids. Usually, this is when one of our children just can’t make school align with their work schedules. I’m more than happy to take time off but there are still challenges with learning in a virtual environment and keeping the kids engaged.
Early in the pandemic, my son was helping with reading to his 1st and 2nd graders. They just weren’t very interested that day in what they were reading. He called and asked, “Nana, could you write a story for the kids about your trip in 2001 when you and Dad hiked through the Grand Canyon?”
“Sure,” I said! I’ve never written a story for elementary school kids but I understand their reading level and vocabulary. One day while I was walking the dog, I dictated the highlights of the story on my phone and sent myself an email. Then I transcribed my story into nine short chapters with a big font. I emailed the story to their parents, they hit print and the kids started reading a chapter a day. It was easy and the kids loved it. They asked great questions and have decided they would like to hike in the Grand Canyon themselves someday. I wrote the story this past spring when we thought everything would be back to normal by the end of summer and schools would open again.
Now it is late fall and it doesn’t appear our kids here in Washington State will go back to school at all this year. Since I’m unable to do the things I had planned, I’m looking for a new project. Recently I thought of some other stories to write down. Since we can’t be together for the holidays and I have taken a few vacation days, I certainly have the time now!
For each of my four grandchildren, I was privileged to be able to be right by the side of both my daughter and daughter-in-law when the kids were born. Given the timing and distance for a child’s arrival, I feel blessed and a little lucky that I was able to participate during such an important experience. I understand that as a grandparent I have a unique perspective that can be shared in an oral story. But with all oral stories, sometimes over the years, the details are forgotten.
During these dark, wet, days of fall and early winter, I’m spending time on my “Birth Story” project. I have a rough draft of each of their stories. This week I asked their moms to email me a set of photos. I asked for a picture of them during their pregnancies, a photo of the new baby, one of the parents with the newborn, and some photos of the grandparents and visitors, and finally, one of them coming home from the hospital.
I’ll be using an online photo application to put the text together with pictures and I will print each one of them a book that they can read now about the day they were born. I hope it is something they will keep for the future. If I stay focused, I hope I can have these done by Christmas.
I’m trying to make the best of the extra time I have because now so many things have been canceled. My hope is that someday I can look back on 2020 as a moment in time that I was able to share the story of the day my grandchildren were born. If I don’t write all of this down, who will?
Do you have some new projects that you are working on during the pandemic? I would be interested to hear what you did in 2020 or have planned for 2021. Share in the comments, I’m always looking for some ideas!
Barbara is the new star of the Rock Your Retirement show! For one year, she'll let Kathe Kline tag along as she goes through her retirement journey.