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Is It Fair to Love Your First Grandchild Most?

I am revisiting this hub that I wrote in 2009. Our grandchildren today are vibrant and older. I love each of them more than words can say.

My first grandchild, born 7 weeks early.  She was 4 pounds, 1 ounce.

My first grandchild, born 7 weeks early. She was 4 pounds, 1 ounce.

2005. Ellie and Shadow.

2005. Ellie and Shadow.

Time with you, Grandma.

Yesterday I had our three grandchildren over for the afternoon. Ellie is 5, Jesse is 4 and Kalisi is 20 months. After a fun few hours together, I prepared to drive them home. That was okay with Jesse -- and the baby was easy-going -- but Ellie became teary-eyed. She said she wanted to spend more time with me.

An hour later, after taking Jesse and the baby home, Ellie and I sat on the couch again together. I asked her what she would like to do. She said, "I never usually get any time with you, Grandma, just you and me."

I had been feeling the same way the past couple of months. I didn't want to hurt my grandson's feelings and say, "Just Ellie is coming over today." The dynamics are completely different when a rambunctious little brother is there with his sister. There is competition, there are jokes to be told and there are beds to try jumping on. I love my grandson. He's one of a kind. And, of course, when the baby is here, she is a magnet for my attention. But there is something about one's first-born grandchild; an extra strong bond that is difficult to describe.

I was thinking about this bond this morning when into my mind came a memory of when we moved here to Maui in 2006. Our daughter and husband and children moved here at the same time, to live separately, but close by. Ellie was almost two years old when we all made the move.

A bit of background before I share a special memory.

If you have ever moved to another state and planned on taking along your dog or cat or bird,you probably were successful in doing it. You probably loaded up your moving truck, put your pet in the car and caravanned across the state border to your new house. It's not that easy if you are moving to Hawaii. Hawaii has the toughest laws for bringing in animals. There is, however, an approved method by which you can avoid the four-month quarantine of your animal, and its expenses, if you plan ahead by at least four months prior to your move. If you are bringing a dog to Hawaii, for example, there are a series of shots and signatures required from your mainland veterinarian with specific intervals between each immunization. If you miss it by a day, you're out of luck. Well, my planning was not on target when we moved here from Arizona or I didn't believe I could juggle the time constraints of the vet visits and everything else. We had to make a week-long trip to Canada at one point, too. So I decided I had to find a good home for my little Shadow, a red Pomeranian.

I made the wrong decision. I regret that decision.

Ellie playing with Shadow before our move to Maui, three years ago.

Ellie at two years old playing with our Pomeranian, Shadow, years ago..

Ellie at two years old playing with our Pomeranian, Shadow, years ago..

A first-in-a-lifetime kind of rapport.

Life has to go on. So we had been here about a week when one day I was driving a rental car -- our vehicles took awhile to arrive -- and Ellie was in a car seat in the back. I started to quietly cry as I was driving along and then I heard little Ellie. "Grandma, cry?"

I looked at her in the rear view mirror. She looked so perplexed. My tears fell a little harder while I pulled to the side of the road. I turned around in my seat and said to her, "Remember Shadow? Ellie, do you remember Shadow?" I knew she did. She used to throw the ball for Shadow in our house in Arizona and squeal with delight while tugging to get the ball out of Shadow's mouth again.

Ellie nodded.

I said, "Shadow isn't with us, Ellie. I miss her. But she has a new home in Arizona. Shadow's okay. A lady looks after her there. She's okay."

Tears welled up in Ellie's eyes and she said, "Grandma miss Shadow?"

I was amazed that she picked up on the key feeling, the real concept. She had only just turned two that week.

I said, "Yes, I miss her. I miss Shadow."

Ellie patted her chest and said, "Aewwee miss Shadow." (She couldn't pronounce her name very well.) She missed Shadow. Tears fell down her cheeks. She had a release from feelings she could not express until that moment.

I got out of the car, opened the back door and gave her a big hug. I told her again that Shadow will be okay. This first-in-a-lifetime kind of rapport with a granddaughter is indescribable. I felt so grateful for the love of this little child.

During the next couple of weeks, when Ellie and I were together she would sometimes bring up Shadow's name and lean on me for a hug.

There is a sense of discovery for the grandparent in one's own grandparenting journey.

I have already had special moments with each of my grandchildren at different times, but the fact is that Ellie has a two-year head start at tugging on my heartstrings. Still, no one can make me laugh as much as Jesse. He says the funniest things without trying. And Baby Girl, she is just plain adorable.


I want to give each child an equal amount of love.

I think of the story of Jacob in the Old Testament. He gave his youngest son, Joseph, a coat of many colors. Jacob favored his youngest son. That caused all kinds of problems among the older brothers. I tend to wonder about that.

Being a grandparent is not something that necessarily comes naturally. It' is not all fun and games. Sometimes there are ill grandchildren, lack of sleep and worries. Sometimes there might be hardship or even heartbreak. But through it all, I want to try to give each grandchild an equal amount of love, support, attention and everything else they need.

I'm beginning to see that sometimes what one child needs is not anything like what another grandchild needs from me. I never had these thoughts and self-directed dilemmas with my own children. While we navigated parenthood, we were in the thick of things. But in grand-parenthood, I feel like the sailor who climbs to the top of the ship's mast to see what is on the horizon! Whether it be danger or adventure, a grandparent can better glimpse the broader expanse of vision than the parents down in the galley with dozens of weekly tasks.

A Balancing Act

Sometimes I have so much fun with my grandchildren that I forget my physical age. And sometimes I believe I don't have any physical limitations -- except some I must have imagined. Then I wake up the next morning with a big reminder: a locked-up back. I want to take tap dance lessons with the grandchildren when they are older, so we can tap and sing our way through the Annie song: The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow. Our plans even for today require agility. We will be down at the beach where the biggest driftwood logs are playing the part of our pirate ship. Jesse is our captain. I cannot miss the excursion.

And then, when I get to babysit these little angels, there are our quiet times when they tell their sweetest stories, sing me their favorite songs, and spoil me with a tea party.

It is a bit of a balancing act. I hope I can give the right amount of whatever is needed, whenever it is needed -- to each of my grandchildren -- throughout the months and years ahead. I do not want one of them to ever feel they are less loved than the other.

Eliana, Little Ellie, did have a head start on my heartstrings, but everything will 'even out'. There will be times I'm looking after younger grandchildren while older grandchildren are at school.

Silly Me. I had thought when my own children grew up and left home, I was done. My work was finished. But here I am, getting my sea-legs for this whole new adventure called grandparenting.

I need to get one rule correct and straight from the beginning: Each child is loved unconditionally for their own selves. Each child is so unique that they are each my favorites.

Our pirate ship down at the beach park.

Our pirate ship down at the beach park.

I thank you for dropping by and I welcome any comments and insights you would like to share about grandparenting..

© 2010 Pamela Dapples

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