My son loves his grandma. He adores spending time with her.
Yet my son is a 16 year old, basketball loving, rap-listening, non-reading, drummer. And my mom is an 81 year old, gardening, mystery-reading, bird loving, crossword puzzler.
They apparently have nothing in common at a notoriously difficult stage of life – the dreaded teenage years!
So why does he look forward to seeing her? Why not ask the expert – my mom!
First, my mother is always curious about the person she is talking to – whoever it is. Her curiosity especially includes her grandson. If he is interested in video games, she doesn’t dismiss the interest. Instead, she sits down and has him show her how to play. Even though she is terrible at it, they laugh at her attempts and he adores her for the effort. He says “She’s so cute when she presses the buttons!”
Second, my mother steps outside of her comfort zone. One day this past summer, my son introduced her to his music. He created his grandma a play list full of his favorite rap artists. They listened to Mac Miller and Biggie Smalls. Jazz Fusion and Jay Z. I braced myself for my mother’s reaction. My mom laughed as she recounted people staring at her, an old lady cruising down the street with the car windows down and the bass thumping! She didn’t necessarily like the music or understand it, but she did understand the importance of the memory she was making with her grandson.
Third, my mom listens with her heart. She brings her patience and curiosity to each basketball move explained and every rap artist detailed. And because she listens to the little stuff with interest, he’s willing to share with her his big stuff. Stuff about girlfriends and teachers. Struggles with his sister, and yes, even his mom! My mother brings her love and her humor and suspends all judgement giving his trust in her a chance to blossom and grow.
So, if you want to get past the teenage stage of grunts and sighs, follow my mother’s lead. Who knows what great conversations will emerge?