MS Relationships: My Grandkids and Me
I have two sons. One now has three young girls. My other son has a girl and a boy. I live with my life-partner who also has two children. His son has twins and another boy, and his daughter has a daughter of her own. We have nine grandchildren, six girls and three boys. Some of them do not live too close to us.
Relationships between MSers and their grandchildren are very much like relationships between any grandparents and their grand kids. Today, kids are often living scheduled lives, perhaps overly-scheduled with sports, 4-H, scouts, and other activities. There is very little free time, so grandparent time is often over the phone or even email, texting and social media sites. There is no reason grandparents can't keep up with the times.
Today, most of the kids are on Facebook, as are we. They talk about what they are doing and post pictures of their events. We send and receive cards and join in group games. Our kids are just like other kids of their generation. We keep up with each other between visits, and our relationship is probably very much like others who do not live close to each other.
Here are some stories that show my grand kids and me playing and talking together.
By the time my first grandchild was born, my MS had just begun to cause my working outside-the-home to end. I knew I wanted my grandchildren to look at me as a person, and they didn't have to be afraid just because I walked with an awkward gait. Actually, by the time they were big enough to notice, I used an Amigo scooter. The older ones saw me stand up now and again, leaning on the counter as I reached for a cup. I began to see it was my concern more than theirs. They didn't think much of it because they didn't know me any other way. To my grandchildren, I was always their grandmother who used a scooter.
The first thing they learned about my Amigo Scooter was to watch out for the wheels and not play with the controls. They were all fascinated with the lights and horn. There was no harm in their playing with the lights, and although too many repetitions of the horn became annoying - they were little and it didn't really hurt anything. They just had to leave the driving controls alone.
The oldest granddaughter was the first to try the driving control. She was standing near me, and pulled back the control. One wheel ran over her foot. She looked at me as if asking how I could do such a thing. I don't remember what convinced her it was her hand that actually made my cart run over her foot, but she has never forgotten. She often tells people how the cart wheel hurts, and she did it to herself.
All of my grandchildren liked to ride on my lap until they were too big to fit. Then they rode by standing on the foot platform, holding the handlebar as I drove throughout the house. I was the local amusement park ride.
Each one, at his or her own time and in their own way, encouraged me to walk. The oldest granddaughter kept telling me she would be glad to teach me how to walk. It really isn't very hard. It was difficult to convince her that I actually knew how to walk, I just could no longer do it. Not easy for a child to understand
One of the boys insisted I could lean on him if I would just try. I told him he could not hold me up, but he impressed me with his confidence as he promised he would not let go.
Then one of the girls tried to motivate me. She said, "You'll never know if you don't try; let's just try it."
As each tried, very quietly, just between the two of us, I had to convince them I knew how, I really did. My problem was my legs did not work any more and did not hold me up.
One of the girls begins hugging as soon as she is in the house. One of the boys just hugs and kisses, not only when he first enters the house, but several times when he just thinks about it.
One of the girls who lives far away told me she doesn't get to hug me too often. I told her I remember her hugs and imagine she is here hugging me. Endearingly, she has taken that to heart. She tells me on the phone she imagines my hugs, then giggles.
The three girls once lived next to a man in wheelchair. The other kids in the neighborhood were almost afraid of him like he was a mechanical man, but my granddaughters told them he was probably a regular person who just got sick or hurt — something they learned from spending time with me. My grandchildren are spreading awareness of disability to the next generation. I think this deserves a hug.
I usually ride on the scooter without shoes. One Christmas my granddaughter decided to buy a special gift because she thought my feet were probably cold. They really weren't cold, but they were bare. She bought bright red knit socks trimmed with faux mink. She saved and spent her own money to warm my feet.
These stories represent years of interaction with my grand kids. I will always remember their concern for me. I thank you, my dear ones for your sensitivity and love.