Thank you so much for your support of my new advice column. I simply cannot believe the volume of mail I have received since launching "Dear Googie" only a short time ago. The letters you write to me in the throes of desperation serve to remind me that, although googiness is a very rewarding stage of life, it is not without its challenges, especially for those of you who are new to grandparenting. I can only hope that sharing my experience and insight will help you in ways nothing else can. With that hope fairly flowing from my fingertips onto my computer keyboard, let us take a look at some of the most provocative of those questions that virtually scream for help from among my most recent batch of letters. Read on, my dear readers. Help is yours for the taking.--Googie
When my grandchildren stay overnight with me, they always want to get in bed with me in the middle of the night. I have tried the obvious solutions like blocking their bedroom door with a couch and sleeping out of sight under my bed. Nothing seems to work. How can I keep them from crawling into bed with me?--Puffy Morningeyes
You can't. Grandchildren have radar. They will find you. Open your mind to the probability that these are some of the sweetest, snuggliest times you and your grandkids will ever share. However, try to break them of the habit before they marry and have children of their own. Left unchecked, this has the potential to become an awkward situation.
When the kids spend the night at my house, how can I get them to brush their teeth without nagging?--Cavity Conscious
Tell them either that (1) toothpaste is magical or (2) if they don't brush, their teeth will turn into cockroaches at the stroke of midnight. They will understand this, because they have seen Cinderella, and most of them don't like bugs. If all efforts fail, don't make them brush. Cavities can't progress too much in just one night, and their parents are paying the dental bills now anyway.
I have bought every Baby Einstein educational toy for my grandchildren, but they just don't seem interested. Not only are they bored at my house, but I am afraid they will flunk kindergarten. I am in a panic, not to mention out a lot of money. What can I do?--Wanta Smartkid
For the most part, stick with the old stuff, for instance, hopscotch. Take a piece of sidewalk chalk and draw a hopscotch board on the driveway (art). This teaches them their numbers from 1 to 10 (arithmetic) and shows them what squares are (geometry) while developing gross motor skills (health). Have them examine the rock before they toss it and identify it as igneous, metamorphic, or sedimentary (geology). Few of today's educators are aware of the fact that multidisciplinary education began with the simple game of hopscotch.
It seems that when my grandkids are at my house, they don't want to mind their parents. What should I do about this?--Dee Linquents
Smirk. Revel in the knowledge that there is justice in the world, and delight in the truth that paybacks are delicious.
My grandkids always throw a fit when it is time to go home. This makes everyone feel bad. What's the solution here?--Hurtsma Eardrums
You have two choices: (1) Force the parent to tear the screaming child out of your arms or (2) Follow them to their house in your own car and bring the kids right back. Both of these have their drawbacks. But if you are finally able to be separated from the children by any method short of surgery and if you are too pooped to consider Choice 2, just give them a kiss and tell them you'll see them soon. As you lock the door behind them, be glad that they love you enough to want to stay. Then, sit down with a glass of wine, put your feet up, and think how lucky you are to have at last the best of both worlds.