I thought for sure that twenty chairs would be enough. As it turned out, we were nineteen short. Yes, 39 of our Seed community elders showed up for the inaugural Seed Gathering of the Grandparents. When I mentioned to one grandmother that it was a historical moment, she looked around the room and said, “Yes, there sure is a lot of history here!” For an hour, this fine group of grandparents introduced themselves to each other, listened to stories of how they came to the Seed, and offered their sincere interest in not only participating in their grandchild’s school experience, but also in making a genuine contribution to Awakening Seed. It was, quite honestly, one of the most inspiring Seed events in which I’ve ever participated.
We discussed ways they could be of service to our school. Four sets of grandparents were from out of town and we considered ways grandparents could establish a long-distance commitment. Our conversation included immediate needs, especially with the upcoming Halloween carnival. Many were eager to sign up for committees and shifts, while others said they’d check out our SignUp Genius page online (http://www.signupgenius.com/go/30e0d4dacaa2fa3ff2-apaparticipation). We recognized the second generation grandparents present, who were also Seed parents years ago. The Schools with Heart Tax Credit Foundation was also mentioned for future discussion.
When thinking about this gathering over the summer, I wanted to make sure we could offer our grandparents something in addition to asking for their help. On Monday we brainstormed ideas. One grandmother, whose daughters also attended the Seed, said she’d love for us to pull together a list of places where grandparents could spend time with their grandchildren around the valley. There was also interest expressed in having a grandparent newsletter, plus presentations about school topics, such as Love and Logic and the emergent curriculum. One request which I found heartwarming was for a discussion about navigating the fine line between being helpful and overstepping boundaries. This seemed to come from a place of respect for their children who now are parents. Interest in future meetings was definitely present.
Following the meeting, grandparents were invited to classrooms to have lunch with their grandchildren. As they departed from the multipurpose room, it seemed like many of them had also come to our gathering because they were interested in forming new friendships. During lunch in one of the preschool rooms, two grandmothers sat together talking and one explained to her grandson that grannies need friends, too. Later in the day the same three-year-old child was making arrangements for a play date with a friend. As their plans unfolded, he asked, “Can my grandma come, too?” Evidently, grandparent appreciation had made its way to the far end of the building. It’s one contagious condition I hope will continue to spread at the Seed.