Posted on February 16th, 2014

Grandparent Trips: The Ultimate Trips

For the most part, knowing that there are always exceptions to the norm, we are a very fortunate group. We “assist” in the “raising” of grandchildren who basically want for very little. We have been able to provide the basics of life: shelter, food, education to our children and they, in turn to their children. Only thing perhaps we provide is a computer, or a cell phone, maybe a set of wheels!

In turn, they – these brilliant, beautiful and sometimes brash grandchildren – have brought us innumerable moments of incredible joy, love, laughter, friendship and computer skills. They add an indelible dimension to our lives, no matter what shape we are in!

And then they become teen-agers!

And just as this earth-shattering event happens, many become Bar/Bat Mitzvah. More joy. More love. More “nachas.” And we wonder: where did the time go?…though silently wondering how our ancestors arrived at the age of 13 for one to attain adulthood. (What were they thinking?) Truth be known, on the Monday following the Shabbat they become an adult, they revert right back to the 7th or 8th grade, thereby absolving our ancestors for their apparent folly!

For many of us, knowing that our “young adult” grandkids have everything they need, certainly more than we had or our children had, a major concern is what to present them for their accomplishment. Our inner-need is to present something that they will remember for a lifetime. Something like what the “Kodak moment” was/is for us.

In today’s world, where physical need or want are basically irrelevant, Cynthia and I decided that each of our four grandchildren would be blessed with two things at the same time. First, each would spend a goodly amount of time with fun-loving, adventurous, cool grandparents. And two, each would be away from their overly demanding, non-understanding archaic parents. You know: a win-win situation!

Any place. Any time. One stipulation. The place had to be in the United States.

As the time drew close, we made our intent known to each set of parents who suddenly became overly non-demanding, extremely understanding, totally responsive, cool parents!

With no input from the parental units, only from this newly minted young adult, three to four ideas emerged. But each of them made the final decision.

When Sam (#1, Dallas) was asked, his answer took less than 20 seconds. The future captain of his high school baseball time responded: Boston and Fenway Park to see the Red Sox. With Saba! (How could I argue?) We wrapped ourselves around historical Boston, Walden Pond, Cambridge, great dining, and the numerous offerings of Boston.

Isabel (#2/Nashville) chose New York City for the obvious reasons: enticing food, shopping, Broadway, shopping, Ellis Island, shopping, museums, shopping. She told us that she picked New York because she always wanted to go because there is so much to do. To her, Ellis Island was an overwhelming experience because both Cynthia and my families passed through. For her, the Bat Mitzvah trip “allowed for families to bond and experience new things.

Mitch (#3/Dallas) selected Honolulu because of his avid interest in volcanoes. At first, we thought it was because he sometimes can act like one!  He was mesmerized by the vivid sights of being in a movie set” surrounded by incredible and numerous rainbows and unreal waves.

Josh (#4/Nashville) selected San Francisco because “all of my life, I’ve wanted to visit California.” Normally a very polite and generous person, it was amazing how more polite and generous he became after we visited Alcatraz! He felt that it was fun and certainly entertaining to explore a new destination with family.

All felt that after a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, which regardless of well prepared each was, it was an awesome way to relax after the stress.

With each adventure, the decision was made that neither Cynthia nor I would contact the numerous friends or colleagues along route. It was family time, our time together.

It is not often in today’s times, especially if family lives in another community, to spend quality time with grandchildren. To see then in action: noisy time, quiet time, reactions to a common situation, reaction to an uncommon situation – the collective experiences that make them “tick,” the family idiosyncrasies that emerge, the similarities, the differences.

As Sam was entering his senior year in high school, he was asked how he felt about it. He responded “Happy and sad. Happy to be on the threshold of achievement. Sad that as a family, our opportunities to spend any time together – all of us together – becomes less and less.”

So a few months later, all 10 of us were sitting at a beach in Mexico. And unprompted, all four grandchildren began relating the individual experiences of Boston, New York, Honolulu and San Francisco. The tears of laughter and excitement rolled from all.

The parents and grandparents made eye-contact as the four regaled each minute of their experiences. It was a moment all cherished and an experience fulfilled.

More important for all, memories of a lifetime.