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A Pretend Beaver, West African Dancing, and Playing Veterinarian

July 24, 2022

Another Way for week of July 8 2022

A Pretend Beaver, West African Dancing, and Playing Veterinarian

This year we hosted our five grandsons for a week of Cousin Camp. Yes. Five. We have three daughters, and now they’ve given us five grandsons to love. So, it is interesting to see how raising girls differs from raising boys. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see nearly enough of them because of how far apart we live, but we get together as we can. If you’re wondering what Cousin Camp is, some call it Kid Camp or Grandparent Camp.

We held our first cousin camp three summers ago, before Covid. The three oldest boys came, and we planned a variety of activities. The parents helped us negotiate who was “old enough” to come, and who would do better staying at home (because of age). Now the two oldest grandsons are eight-and-a-half, there is a six-and-a-half-year-old, an “almost-six” year-old, and an “almost-four” year-old.

The thought of hosting a number of grandchildren for a week can be a bit daunting and scary. What if they don’t behave? What if they get hurt? What if they are getting to the age where … you know, Grandma and Grandpa aren’t so wonderful anymore. Babies love anyone, right? Adolescents are a little pickier. (And none of these are adolescents, yet!)

Planning is key. Of course I planned menus for each day. I also looked online for ideas for various art or craft ideas, went shopping, organized a shelf in one bedroom where I could keep the supplies (out of kids’ reach), scrounged to resurrect some older toys my girls enjoyed such as a veterinarian kit. We already had old puzzles, Legos, a medieval castle, and airport on hand for their play. One brought his beloved Pokémon cards which the older boys enjoyed but many of us elders just don’t “get”.

We set aside one day for an excursion to Frontier Culture Museum (20 miles away) which is an outside museum showing what life was like for early immigrants from countries such as Germany, Ireland, England, and even West African countries.

The boys listened well and especially enjoyed a chance to beat drums from West Africa and also learned a few dance moves. The man who spoke to us pointed out their dancing often arose from ordinary cooking, serving, or sweeping maneuvers. And of course, there was the always popular “chicken dance” to move to.

On another day we went fishing at a friend’s pond where I stood guard over the three-year-old so he wouldn’t fall in the pond; one boy wanted to pretend being a beaver chewing on wood. Grandma called a stop to that and his mother later discussed with him the better plan of just pretending to put dirty sticks in his mouth! The boys also played baseball, cooled off down a slip-and-slide, and played fast

food restaurant in our little playhouse which one grandson dubbed “The Food House.”

The Food House. Made by Great Grandpa Miller 40 years ago and still a popular hangout.

Not counting Chick-fil-A, we ate all our meals at home which were the most hectic times for me as chief cook. One grandson has Celiac and can’t eat any gluten—or come near it. Our youngest daughter was able to join us for two-and-a-half days to help out with all this—which was a real blessing. I’m not sure we could have survived—at least not in good spirits—without her help. 

We muscled through a few hairy times of kid skirmishes, but taking care of the grandchildren can give their parents some much needed “down time,” a quiet meal at home, or out. Or even a chance for a little getaway whether camping, at a cabin, or a Stay Cation (at home). And I kept thinking about grandparents who provide full or part time care for their grandchildren. Now that’s a challenge!

It does take some planning and organizing to keep older children interested and involved and not bored. Yes, we heard the “bored” word but we also heard “I wish Cousin Camp was two weeks.”

I treasured those words, implying that he was loving cousin time. And we did too.


What treasures have your children or grandchildren given you this summer? Or in the past? I’d love to hear!

Comment here or send to address below.

For a wide variety of ideas with grandchildren, check out the book I mentioned last week: The Mindful Grandparent: The Art of Loving Our Children’s Children written by Shirley Showalter and Marilyn McEntyre. Or write to me at or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  

One Comment
  1. You will never regret spending time with those sweet grandsons. Even if they wear you out, it’s worth every dram of energy. Keeping track of the proceedings here on your blog will hold the detail and help you reminisce at leisure. Cheers to you for that!

    Today was my birthday, and two of my grandsons gave me a plaque which read “A Nana’s love is always there: to hold you, cheer for you, and spoil you.”

    P.S. You will find a pleasant surprise in your inbox today. ;-D

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