Oh!? Grandparents Do Have Favorites

The family diamond ring is going to the first born granddaughter.

I was the favorite. Really.

To my Nana, I was her “princess.” To my Grandma, I was the “tip of her heart.”

At the beginning, it had nothing (much) to do with my curly blond hair and good disposition. It was because I was the first. On both sides. The long, eagerly awaited grandchild. And a girl–a girly girl–dolls and dresses, jump ropes and jacks.

I don’t know a single boomer grandmother who doesn’t kvell over her grandchildren. But if we’re honest, we admit, if only to ourselves, that we love them equally (the same amount) but differently.

I think it has to do with several things. The birth order advantage holds for a while. Then, our relationships depend on how much we see and care for the babies. Maybe it is influenced by our relationship with our child, our grandchild’s parent. Or if we are the maternal or paternal grandmother. Or if we feel like the “other grandmother.” Later it will also depend on how much time we spend with them, their dispositions, interests and, to be truthful, how they respond to us.

I was thinking about this the other day. I was waiting at the bus stop for my first-born grandchildren who, until three months ago lived up the block from me and who I saw and babysat at least twice a week since their birth. Sam got off with a big smile and ran over with a hug and kiss. His twin Jacob barely looked up and went off with a friend. Yes, part of it is manners. But the truth is that, even at the age of 6 and a half, Sam and I are closer. His personality and preferences mesh better with mine. Jacob is a “guy’s guy,” obsessed with sports, a topic I know nothing, and care even less, about. Of course, I pretend to care when we talk about it, but kids are smart.

I lived around the corner from both sets of grandparents. My Nana died when I was 9 and when I became an adult, I found out that she had left me her large, very valuable diamond ring. That gift, I believe, was a reflection of the advantage of my birth order. God didn’t give her the time to really get to know me. On the other hand, I had my grandma until I was 53 and already a grandmother myself.  She painted and sculpted and used to take me and my sister to museums from a very early age. I loved art and drawing. My sister wasn’t interested. Grandma and I both loved to read. We were able to talk about anything and everything. Our personalities and preferences coincided.

I remained the “tip of her heart” until her death at the age of nearly 100 because of the relationship we developed based on who we were as human beings.

Last year, after three grandsons, I was blessed with my first granddaughter, my beautiful, blue-eyed Emme. I go out to New Jersey to babysit for her once a week but who knows how our relationship will develop? Who knows who and what she’ll be? Will we play Barbie and pick-up sticks? Will she love Charlotte’s Web and Nancy Drew? Will she always run to me with a smile and a hug?

Her personality and interests will develop and I pray that I will live a long enough life to see her grow into womanhood, motherhood and, if I am very lucky like Grandma, into grandmother-hood. I will love her, and her siblings and cousins, no matter what.

But she’s my first granddaughter.

I just re-did my will. Emme gets the diamond.

Renee SeptimusRenée Septimus is a social worker and Jewish educator. She lives with her husband Joe on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and is the very proud mom of four married children and a savta (that's Hebrew for grandmother) to a (growing) bunch of absolutely perfect grandchildren!

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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