Nana Olympics

May 3, 2021

After 30 years of raising children, I became a grandmother. I was finally qualified to be on the Nana Olympics team. The seven years since have been a humbling voyage of discovery, as almost everything I did as a mom is, it turns out, the OPPOSITE of what grandmas tend to do. 

Instead of relying on my “mom” instincts, I began channeling my own Nana, who carried my IQ test results around in her purse and allowed us unlimited Yodels and soda.  I’ve made great strides, assisted of course by my young trainers Aiden and Peter, and now I feel I can compete with the best grannies on the squad. Here are a few of the events in which I excel:

THE EGO BOOST: (theirs, not mine) Everyone needs some encouragement, right? I was told as a young mother NOT to over-inflate little egos, to instead say things like: “That’s an interesting drawing. You like art.” Now, of course, I am an expert in unrestrained gushing: “That is the MOST amazing picture anyone has ever drawn. You are the best artist in the whole world!!” The Ego Boost is great for enlarging the heads of those gifted darlings. Extra points given for creative praise: “Your hands are so washed! They absolutely sparkle! I’m so glad you used the expensive French milled soap too!”

THE DISCIPLINE DODGE: Spilled chocolate milk on the new chair? Once a tragedy and a timeout for my offspring, if my grandchild does it it’s NO BIG DEAL. Come here, sweetheart! Don’t cry! Nana knows it was an accident. It was Nana’s fault for not buying a chocolate colored chair. The stain will possibly come out. Here’s some more chocolate milk. Try to be a tiny bit more careful, but it’s OK if you aren’t! The best part of the Discipline Dodge is the chocolatey smile I get as a reward, which makes up for the scowly looks on Daddy and Mommy’s faces. Cheer up, Daddy and Mommy!

PHOTO FINISH: How many pictures of my grandkids do I have at the ready? Unlike the few snapshots grandparents used to tote in a wallet, the number of photos I can share with friends and even random strangers is limited only by the amount of space on my iPhone. Here’s the cutest picture of the boys! I took it 45 seconds ago. No, wait! Here’s a more recent one that’s even cuter! Oh, is that a picture of your granddaughter on her bike? Very sweet. Here are 20 pictures of my Peter on HIS bike. He’s only four and almost finished with training wheels. I’ve heard that’s a little advanced?

I try not to interfere with Sheridan and Ya-Jhu, who really are wonderful parents. I realize that their attempts at instilling order and good behavior are totally normal. When they become grandparents someday, I’m confident they’ll throw all that out the window just like I did. Am I spoiling the kids rotten? Spoiling them fantastic is more like it!


    I am an author (of four books, numerous plays, poetry and freelance articles,) a director (of Spiritual Formation at a Lutheran church,) and a producer (of five kids).

    I write about my hectic, funny, perfectly imperfect life.

    Please visit my website: or email me at



Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter