Grandma's Pearls

I would like to invite you to join me on a journey. On November 1st, 2003, my mother died of pancreatic cancer. Her passing meant not just that I had lost a cherished family member, or that our community had lost a compassionate human being, but as a grandma she had a plethora of "pearls" on nearly any topic of child rearing, and these were gone with her as well. When I became a pediatrician in 1988, I would tap into her common-sense knowledge on a regular basis. Through the years, I found that many of my pediatric patients' grandparents enjoyed sharing their words of wisdom with me in my office, and I found these pearls especially valuable when I started my own family over ten years ago.

The journey I'm proposing is a shared attempt to capture this vast collection of accumulated wisdom on my blog. "Grandma's Pearl's" will celebrate a very special group of individuals who deserve to have a forum for sharing their hard-earned life lessons with others. It will be a compilation of advice from grandparents from all walks of life...capturing the insights of the grandparent-next-door, to the still-out-in-the workforce grandparent, to more.

My hope is that "Grandma's Pearls" will be a ray of inspiration for both new parents and experienced parents alike. Not a "how-to" manual on baby care, but rather a collection of practical, no-nonsense tips on how to raise good kids. You can share a couple of sentences, a paragraph, or a full-blown story if you'd like. I welcome you to share your pearls of wisdom and wit with the world!

Questions (these are suggestions only)....substitute in "dad, grandfather," etc. where appropriate:

  1. What tips do you (or passed down from your mother, mother-in-law, or grandmother) have on raising caring, happy, responsible, and well-adjusted kids?

  2. What did you (or your mom) do right, and/or what could have been done better?

  3. Was there a transforming moment in your (or your mom's) life that served as a guide in raising children? As a result of this moment, is there a "pearl" to pass on?

  4. Do you have a favorite "grandmotherly" quote that has helped you in parenting your children?

To submit a "pearl" click on:



Thursday, November 27, 2008

Making Memories

Here's a wonderful Thanksgiving pearl from Marilyn Lane. Ms. Lane is the co-author of "Parenting With Purpose: Five Keys to Raising Children with Values and Vision."

I remember one Thanksgiving when I was a principal at an elementary school in the Bay Area in California. I was very busy with both my job and my efforts to provide Thanksgiving dinners for some of our school's families. My daughter, who was a single mom, was traveling to my house for Thanksgiving along with her daughter Sarah who was about three or four.

I had almost decided to buy Thanksgiving dinner from one of the supermarkets that provide complete dinners for a price, when I received a call from Sarah. In her usual enthusiastic voice, Sarah said, "OH Grandma, Grandma. I can hardly wait until we get to your house! We can find beautiful leaves to decorate the table like we did last year, and I can help you make the pies and......." and then I knew I had to make Thanksgiving dinner, and include Sarah and her mom in the making. I wasn't just making a dinner; I was making a memory that would last forever. I was providing a tradition and a feeling of continuity and belonging for my family.

Sarah is in college now, and she still helps me make pies. Last year she made two aprons for me for my birthday. On the front, with liquid embroidery, she had written "Grandma" on one and "Sarah" on the other. They both hang in the pantry so we can use them whenever we make pies together.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

20 Things Children Truly Need for School

It's been just over a year since I last posted, and we are well over two months into the school year. Unbelievable. Having two school-aged kids will do that to you I suppose...the years just start to speed up, and before you know it, the kids are taller and smarter than you ever imagined.

The following article was printed in the Evansville Courier and Press, and forwarded to me by a dear friend. It's chock full of pearls, so I contacted the author and asked her permission to post this. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

Here are the 20 things kids really need to start school...

SHARON RANDALL, Scripps Howard
Sunday, August 31, 2008

A friend e-mailed me a story she couldn't wait to tell me. She'd gone out to fetch the newspaper when she saw two little girls — ages 5 and 7, she guessed — all dressed up for the first day of school. And their dad was snapping their picture.

"It caused me to reflect on when my kids started school," she wrote. "That first day was a mixed bag, because if you were a mom with the kids in the house all summer, you were looking forward to some peace and quiet. But in the same vein, it was another year gone. ..."

Reading her note, I suddenly realized I never made pictures of my kids on their first day of school. What was I thinking?

Wait. I remember. I was thinking, "Please, God, help me get them in the car because my oldest can't find his shoes, and my youngest threw up, and my daughter hates how I braided her hair. And if we don't leave now we're going to be late because I might kill them. And, God? Please let the car start."

Motherhood is indeed a "mixed bag," not just on the first day of school.

From the day they are born, we start pushing them out of the nest with one hand and pulling them back with the other.

I don't have pictures of my children on their first days of school, but I have memories. I wish you could see them.

Last year in a column, I listed what I think children need for school. Many of you requested a reprint of that list. So here again, thank you, are "20 things children truly need for school."

1. A No. 2 pencil and a willingness to erase.

2. A respect for themselves and others, especially their teachers.

3. An awareness that the world does not revolve around them, and that they alone are responsible for their actions.

4. Parents (or grandparents) who teach by example a love for reading, learning and life.

5. An assurance that school is a good, safe place, their teachers will like them, and their parents won't leave town without them.

6. An understanding that school is their "job" and no one else can or will do it for them.

7. A system for exchanging communication between school and home; a backpack for notes; an emergency phone number that always answers; a quiet place and time to do homework; a daily chance to read aloud and to be read to.

8. A plan for getting to and from school on time.

9. A pet to care for.

10. A public library card.

11. Someone to welcome them home, laugh at their jokes, answer their questions and listen to what they say and don't say.

12. The power of knowing how it feels to give anonymously and sacrificially to help someone less fortunate.

13. The encouragement to try new things, the freedom to fail and the chance to try again.

14. The gifts of being well- fed, well-rested, well-mannered and well-covered for medical, dental and after-school care.

15. The confidence to deal with bullies (stand up straight, look them in the eye, don't start a fight — but don't back down), how to ask questions (raise your hand and wait to be called on) and to never stop asking questions, especially "Why?"

16. To be the best, or at least pretty good, at something, and to know that it's OK not to be good at everything.

17. To spend more time with humans and less with machines.

18. To have nothing to do once in a while but daydream.

19. To have someone love them unconditionally, regardless of their grades; someone to "beam" at them, to light up when they walk into the room.

20. They need to know that school won't last forever, but learning is a lifelong process.

And even if their mom forgets to take pictures, she'll always think they look pretty cute.

Sharon Randall can be contacted at P.O. Box 777394, Henderson, NV 89077, or at