Help! My Grandchildren Keep Changing- Jane Isay

In the time of Covid, we grandparents may worry that the kids are lost to us. Here’s a moment to remind us that they are growing—and they are dealing with this scary time—the best they can. I learned this lesson on a trip to the beach.

I had lost him. My grandchild was nine years old, and suddenly he wasn’t mine anymore.

We had been so close. I saw him every week of his life. We went to the beach on our winter vacation, and when he was a toddler, he slept in a crib in my room, so we could have breakfast together before the parents woke up.  Later, we would stretch out next to each other on our chaises and comment on the shape of the clouds as they flew by. Now he didn’t come to sit with me on the beach, and he didn’t want to sleep in my room.

I couldn’t understand what I had done, and I was miserable. The last dinner was a cookout on the beach. I sat at the table with his mother. “This was such a great trip,” she said. “You think so?” Tears filled my eyes. She looked surprised. “I’ve lost Benji. He doesn’t want to sit with me on the beach. He wouldn’t stay in my room. I don’t know what happened.”

“He’s growing up,” she said. “I know that, but I’m lost,” I said. “You’ll just have to up your game,” she told me.  I had no idea how.

Our plane was delayed the next day, and we had hours in the airport. So the parents took the children into the gift shop. Benji came out with a deck of playing cards.

“Want to play gin, Grandma?” I nodded, shuffled, dealt. We played all the way home. That was the year of gin rummy. I kept a rolling score on a pad of paper, and we played every week. After an hour of cards, he was ready to talk again. By the end of that year, he got tired of the game, even though he was winning by hundreds of points.

But I was the winner. I got him back. It only took a gin rummy deck and a little card sense.

Every Other Monday



Gathering of Grandparents

Start your week with an hour in a warm place to discuss the stresses we grandparents face in the time of Covid 19.




Jane Isay has been an editor for over forty years and is author of Walking on Eggshells: Navigating the Delicate Relationship Between Adult Children and Parents; Mom Still Likes You Best: Overcoming the Past and Reconnecting with Your Siblings; Secrets and Lies: Surviving the Truths That Change Our Lives, and Unconditional Love: A Guide to Navigating the Joys and Challenges of Being a Grandparent Today. She lives in New York City, not too far from her children and four grandchildren.

Support The Rowe Center