I just returned from a trip to Worlds of Fun with my grandson Thomas to find a blog posted in my email that proclaims “Grandparents and grandkids are connecting”.

John Agno, who writes the “So Baby Boomer” blog had older grandkids in mind. He mentioned the use of Facebook and you have to be 13 years old to have a Facebook account.

But his blog title echoes my thoughts as I gamely tried to keep up with an eight-year-old flitting from one ride, game of skill, and concession stand to the next.

My own children hardly knew their grandparents. During the time they were growing up, we were separated from their grandparents by a few hundred miles and professional responsibilities, so that they usually only saw their grandparents once or twice a year.

My children were also unfortunate enough to fall through the cracks in terms of cousins – they were younger than all their first cousins and older than all their second cousins. To a certain extent, I think, they grew up lonely and isolated.

I was missing in action for the first few years of Thomas’ life, too. Again, miles and responsibilities kept me from seeing his first step and hearing his first words. I tried to see him and later, him and Josh, as often as I could but each time I saw them, it took a while for them to warm up to a grandmother who was a virtual stranger.

Now they see me often enough to take it for granted. I may rate a greeting when I walk into their house – if they are not intent on a game on their computer or DS. That’s why I was a little surprised when Thomas asked me to go to Worlds of Fun with him.

I had gone to Josh’s circus to watch him juggle (and to be quite impressed with how well he did) and on the way home, Thomas invited me. It seems that he was one of four in his third grade class who had won this trip to Worlds of Fun because of high scores on the State Assessment tests.

To be quite honest, spending a day at Worlds of Fun ranked right up there with getting a needle poked through my eye on my bucket list but because Thomas invited me, I went.

As a result, I was reminded why I quit working at a position that required me to stand for eight hours a day. I had a visit that night from my erstwhile and unwelcome companion, Charley Horse. My spine feels like a corkscrew and it will probably take weeks of Tai Chi and Yoga to get my body into something resembling pain-free balance.

Was it worth it? When I saw Thomas’ face Sunday morning in church, when he greeted me as though I was his long-lost friend, I knew the answer to that. Yes! It was worth it. This grandparent and her grandkids are connecting. I am grateful that I am finally in a position to be there for my grandkids.

The third level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is the need for love/belonging. That is a need that we cannot meet by ourselves; it can only be met in relationship with others. Friends are important relationships, but friends cannot give a child – or a youth – a sense of roots. Only parents and grandparents can do that.

But it is not a one-way street. We never outgrow the need to be loved, to feel that we belong, that we are valued just for ourselves. And we may have more in common with our grandchildren than we do with our children.

While grandchildren are often told at every turn that they are too young, we are often told that we are too old.

While our grandchildren may feel that they have time on their hands (if their activities have not been too highly regulated by parents desperate to keep the kids busy and out of their hair), we, too, may feel that we have too much time on our hands as we search for jobs and endure the humility of the unemployment process or, if we have already retired, as we adjust to having no place in particular to go and no reason to be there. Or perhaps we have children who are desperate to keep us out of their hair.

As Mary Madden, senior research specialist with the Pew Research Center, says: “Seniors who have recently retired, teens and young adults just beginning their lives are all going through very significant changes. And this social networking and communicating can be a very powerful force in helping them move forward.”

I think the same could be said of our younger grandchildren as well.

Author's Bio: 

I am a Baby Boomer who is reinventing herself and an internet entrepreneur focusing on self-help for the Baby Boomer generation. I spent sixteen years serving as pastor in United Methodist congregations all over Kansas. Those congregations were made up primarily of Baby Boomer or older members, so I developed some expertise with the Baby Boomer generation. I am now on leave of absence and living in Atchison, Ks. with my almost-thirty year old son and two cats. I also help my daughter, also living in Atchison, with three sons, ages 8, 6, and 18 mos, while their father is in Afghanistan. My website is found at http://www.for-boomers.com