How to Be a Cool Grandmother

By Susan Jacob
By Susan Jacob

By Susan Jacob, Special to the Independent

In all my life, I never once concerned myself with being cool. The idea held no interest for me. My family and friends would likely testify to the fact that I am in no way cool. The issue that is motivating me at this late date is the shocking realization that visiting your grandmother is typically optional. I am not trying to alarm any potential grandparents but best beware.

Growing up in the ‘6os had some advantages for those who were less than cool. This was a time when “God, she is so weird,” was considered a compliment and peculiar was a destination. I sucked in sports and had to take swimming five days a week to pass high school. I never accomplished anything involving hitting a ball, climbing a rope or running fast. I walked around with my long hair dripping day after day. Fortunately in cold places like St. Louis everything indoors is vastly over heated so I survived. Not being involved in any sports team or attending as a spectator was often interpreted as some kind of subtext for protesting the war. Nothing establishment, you know. This worked for me.

I am an avid book reader. If they had a letter for reading more than anyone, I would have made it easily. Why isn’t reading on the beach a sport? Educators should take this into consideration. Being in two book clubs, even if beach reading was a sport, would not take me very far with young grandsons. I am, of course, not a couch potato. I garden. The boys do love the thrill of squirting me with a hose. I have the beach on my side and am happy to build sand castles they can demolish with trucks. I, however, am so uncool I do not have one single game on my phone. I did let my grandson try to teach me Super Mario Brothers. He said I was hopeless and would not show me how to get my little character out of the balloon. We do a great deal of art, but that is only minor league cool. My co-grandparents actually camp. This is a treat because my daughters, like myself claim that pretending to be homeless is no vacation.

If you are asking yourself, “does she at least have a cool grandpa for them?” I am the fun one of the two of us. My husband doesn’t read non-fiction. He did letter in water polo at Beverly Hills High School. The coach made him team score keeper. He has an accounting talent. This was before personal calculators. Good math counted. He still has his letterman jacket.

I had no preparation for this dilemma. It is true I raised children, daughters, not sons. For them I was not optional. I did not concern myself with them liking me. I am their mother. They were stuck with me. Interestingly, sports may have a genetic component. I realized that sports could be important. I enrolled them and encouraged them in soccer, dance and swimming. They looked beautiful out there, but all they wanted to do was read. They don’t even care to swim. My oldest was so non-competitive that if her friend said “I hope I win in Candyland!” she would respond, “I hope you do to.” The youngest learned to win the school jog-a-thon by not running. She collected flat fee donations from everyone we knew. Both daughters support a reading Olympics. The oldest teaches English literature these days. The younger is in sales.

I have served on the board of the Boy’s and Girl’s club for many years. I arrived there past the time my girls would attend. I did not think about fun or cool. I provide a counseling program for the families.

Who knew they would make me a cool grandmother? Did you know that going to the water park was not a picnic at Heisler? They have water balloon throwing contests with other children. This saved me from the hose. They have sports and computers, arts and popsicles. They can go to Knott’s Berry Farm and not have their grandmother throw up on them.

I overheard one grandson ask the other what he did at grandma’s. “He said I went to the Boy’s and Girl’s Club!” The other replied, “that place is awesome!’

Who knew that to be cool, all I need was a cool place. No, I am not cool. I am awesome.


Susan Jacob is a psychotherapist who has lived in Laguna Beach for 20 years.

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