Are you a cool grandparent? 81



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We are all individuals, with different backgrounds, different ethics, different rules to live by, but we share the joys and sometimes the heartaches of being a grandparent.  But what makes a cool grandparent?  And should we try to be one?  

When the first two arrived I decided I would just be me, after all why pretend to be some else, just due to a title?  So we had fun, and as they grew up, all three got to know that we were a bit different. We weren’t your average ‘pipe and slippers, and knitting’ couple. I answered to Nan, or Jacqui with no distress.


My husband and I painted, so the house was full of paintings, I had wild hair in those days, almost afro, as I had naturally curly hair, I liked to dance to the music they enjoyed as they got older, making an absolute idiot of myself.  I never wore conventional clothes, I loved colour and a bit of madness in my wardrobe, so they got to see that not all old ladies conform to a pattern. Our son who is ultra conservative might not agree. I think he would prefer the twin set and pearls.


We did make -up together, the first grand daughter is still a make- up ‘freak’ and think it’s my fault.


I had a tattoo when I was 70 and my husband had his birth sign done on his arm when he was older, but in that respect I advised them NOT to do as we had. They have a whole life to get through, and in some vocations a tattoo is frowned on, better to wait or not do it. I have warned them they may be banned from some career choices.  But still think the grandson may get the family crest done somewhere discreet.


We cooked and went for treasure hunts for special shells. (I wish I was like my mother in law, teaching them to sew and knit), but I did teach them to paint and make things, and oh the lovely mess I made with them, beads and bits of sticky paper all over the house, flour in mounds, bits of chopped vegetables and fruit ground into the carpet. Sand and shells in a long winding, trail from the door.


Now they appreciate us being different, they do refer to me as a ‘cool Nan.’ I wish I saw more of them but distance is a problem.  I recently sent a very naughty birthday card to our grandson who is just 18, and he sent me a reply on ‘Facebook.’  He was gently chiding me, but laughing at the same time. Yes we are technologically savvy, we can keep up with them in most ways. We aren’t fazed by their communication methods. We also try to give advice it its asked for, and would provide whatever we could if they were in trouble.


I  even share music discoveries with my grandson, with him showing me some bands he likes, or some Asian pop he is into, I can appreciate that as much as the beauty of the classics, or the beat of the blues, I love them all. He also has discovered the bands I loved like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and many others from that era, music flows across the generations with our sons and daughter sharing some of our passions.


I have several lovely things the girls wrote when they were younger this is one (with all its faults) written when the youngest one was about 10 I think.


So whatever we have done, wrong or right, we love them, and they love us. We have not kept to any stereotypes. We have made mistakes, but they also learn from that. It shows we are just human. We are perfectly capable of stuffing life up.  Cool, or not cool grandparents are important.


We should be there as a sounding board, a comfort, a hug, whatever it takes. I have friends who have been everything to their grandchildren, have been there as parents, or whatever those children needed, doing a wonderful job, and they have every reason to be proud, best job in the world.


What do you think are the hallmarks of a cool Grandparent?  And should we focus on being cool, or should we be other things?  

Jacqui Lee

Jacqui Lee is 75 and now retired but the last ten years or so have been some of her busiest. She worked at a hospital, where she took several Certificated courses, she cleaned a school, helped to run two conventions, wrote short stories, started painting, and in fact is never bored even now, "I honestly feel we are lucky to still be upright and breathing, and my motto is, Remember yesterday, dream of tomorrow, but live today. I love fun, clothes, food and friends."

  1. Jacqui I would call you ‘trendy grannie’ but trendy and cool is not a word teens use now and embarrasses them hearing their Mums say it. LOL. I too was the young cool Mama as my granddaughter would tell me when I dropped her at school as she said other Grandmas were all old. ha. I was only early 40’s. My sister is 58yr this year and she is having her 6th grandchild all under 4yrs. Hippy Grandma and into the Buddha. I only wrote an article the other day on how reflected on past years how I always looked at my Grandma and my Mum as a Grandma and thought that was what Grandma’s should be like. Slightly chubby, blue rinse, perm and soft with lots of homemade biscuits and cakes always on hand. They always had that special smell. Maybe it was talc powder but it was a one off grandma smell. I loved those Grandmas. I think we are great as Mama’s (as my eldest choose to call me and it has gone on through the other 5). Now our babies are older and thee is no such thing as sending them clothes like we used to but only vouchers to movies or something like a visa prepay. God forbid we know what the would wear nor be able to afford it. I do have one very precious 17yr old in Perth that continues to contact via msg and I can buy for her pretty things. Distance now makes it so different with out contact and closeness I find and also their relationships with their Mums to me seems so great they don’t turn to Grandma as much. Love your piece by the way

    1 REPLY
    • Love some of the quotes from you and do agree. My mother was the soft cuddly nan, who cared only about their welfare, was a perfect motherly nanna always had cakes and biscuits…I do that, as its part of my training I think, love baking! I carry on that tradition. Yes we at least try to keep up with the way our grand kids communicate.
      Also agree on the voucher thing too, made some horrible mistakes trying to buy clothes, and they are fashion concious so early! like five! So the voucher helps, Now one is earning more money than I did, so think I might look for a voucher from her. LOL. Thanks for the reply.

  2. I am a knitting, biscuit-making grandma with a walking stick, but I received great praise the other day from my grandson as I slashed and stabbed the pirates in the front hedge : ‘Wow! You’re good, Grandma1’

    1 REPLY
    • Wow great praise, and just taking part is fantastic, I used to play silly games too, happy memories as mine are grown up now. Thanks for the comment.

  3. I am a grandmother of nine. whether I am cool is debateable love my grandchildren to bits I bake biscuits. make lapsize quilts for them make cards etc. can be annoying at times but they still love me I hope.

    we put up with each others foibles .

  4. I have incredibly warm memories of our Nan. She was a Lady. I have the good fortune to now be a Nan. My title is NannaMez. Sadly, we live 700 klms from our grandson, but, thankfully, we have the good fortune to be able to visit every school holidays. When our grandson was younger than 2, I felt concerned that distance was a drawback to relationships. I had a light bulb moment—- write to him every week. Every letter has been very different and is always illustrated to emphasise all the comments and observations. Consequently,our grandson found it very easy to chat about all the topics included in his letters. I am an Early Childhood and Special Education Teacher so know the importance of pictures and visuals to learning, comprehension and understanding. We are very excited- a new addition to our family is due in a few weeks. This baby will live only a few kilometres from us, but he is also going to receive a weekly letter as I have seen the positive outcomes, loving and learning. I hope our grandchildren will see me as a sharing, caring, loving, learning, Nannamez.

    1 REPLY
    • That is a perfect solution, I failed, as I started to do this and as I like drawing did that too. But I didn’t keep it up. Sort of stopped before they were grown up.

      Your idea is a wonderful encouragment for him, and gives him a desire to learn. Wonderful!!
      Reminds me of something I did when I was having third child, I left illustrated ‘letters’ to my two and nearly three and a half year old, and asked my mother to show them and read bits. As I needed to keep up contact. We had not long travelled from NZ and I was worried about the children. So many changes in their lives. We need to be inventive sometimes.

      1 REPLY
      • Oh and so good that you will have a new grand child close by… lucky you,

  5. I had 4 grandchildren stay for 1 week of the holidays and I was called the Awesome Grandma by the granddaughter that is like me.I was never an ordinary Mum as I wore different clothes and owned a pub.I remember my oldest son saying when he was little why are you different to other mummmys?The answer I did not know but he got to be happy with a different mum.My grandkids are the same but I do cook for them and teach them to knit but my oldest granddaughter is into the makick like me not all of it but she is to young yet love being a grandma I am sure my daughter thought I would hate it.Also took the kids to the pub for the first time for chips and a raspberry.

  6. Love this piece Jacqui. I now have 8 grandchildren ranging in age from 21 to 3 years of age. I adore every single one of them and get heaps of hugs and kisses back. I don’t know whether I am a ‘hip’ grandmother or not. I love being called Nana (my daughter in laws Mum didn’t want Nana or Grandma, they call her by her name), I shop with them, I bake with them, I now visit their house for meals, I knit with them, they give me massages and they know they get unconditional love from me no matter what they have done. They are all so very different but just great kids. If I think about how I would like them to think of me, or remember me when I’ve fallen off this mortal coil, it would be that they had unconditional love, lots of time, good happy memories and lots of hugs; that they always felt safe, loved and unjudged when they were around me. I always consider it such a privilege to be entrusted with the lives and minds of my grandchildren and to be able to play a part and have some influence in their young lives.

    1 REPLY
    • Thank you and it sounds like you are a special nanna, the grand children love you and will have some wonderful memories of you.

      I agree its a privilage to be so much part of their lives. Leaves me with a good feeling Judy.

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