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Grandparents important in students lives
Grandparents Lunch pic
Joyce Simmons, right, helps grandson Nate Seabolt, a first grader at Blacks Mill Elementary, with a craft Friday. Simmons was one of about 20 grandparents to visit for the annual First Grade Grandparents Luncheon. - photo by Chelsea Thomas Dawson Community News

Younger and older generations came together last Friday at the First Grade Grandparents' Luncheon at Black's Mill Elementary School.

The event invited students' grandparents, or "Memes," "Papas," "Nanas," "Poppies" and "Grannies," as student's called them, to join their grandchild for story time, a craft activity and lunch.

Grandmother Barbara Jameson came to visit her grandson Keith Daniel.

"This is my third time to come for grandparent's day here. It is special when you can come and spend time with one of your grandchildren. You get to see the environment that they are in and meet their teachers," she said.

In Brooke Sander's first grade class, eight grandparents attended. They sat in the student's low, miniature chairs and did a craft on the short tables.

Afterward, they walked in line beside their grandchildren to the cafeteria, where many stood in line to stack up food on trays.

"I think it gives [the students] a sense of caring, understanding, support and another form of love," said grandmother Maresa Helton, better known as "Nana" to her granddaughter.

"I think it is important for them to be able to think, ‘Hey, I am important. They took out a part of their day for me.'"

The relationship between the grandparent and grandchild is a special one and the school tries to support it by offering the grandparents a way to get involved, Sanders explained.

"You don't realize until you are our age just how important these types of memories are," she said.

Helton agrees. She said her grandparents died early in her life and she wishes she could have gotten to know them.

Roger Jameson, who attended the event Friday to visit his grandson, said a unique aspect of the grandparent's relationship to their grandchildren is that they can offer wisdom from lessons learned and tales of times past.

"The generations today have lost a lot of the stuff that I grew up with, which I learned from my grandfather. When we have good relationships with our grandkids, maybe they can pick up something that was lost," he said.

Sandra Daniel, also grandmother to first-grader Keith Daniel, emphasized that the grandparent's home can also be a welcome retreat for grandchildren.

"I think we have a little more patience with them than their parents do because they have so much other stuff going on. I think we can show them even more patience and love and tell them about things that happened to us when we were growing up in the past," she said.

To Helton, that patience combined with a slower pace of life can be a good influence on children.

"For most grandparents life has slowed down and it's not so hurried. The kids get to see that and experience that. Whereas as a young parent it's really hard to do that because you have to rush home, cook, help with homework and so on," she said.

Grandparents Brenda and Zane Goodin drove from Griffin to visit their grandchildren Cade and Seth Adams on Friday. They have nine grandchildren total and love being grandparents, they said.

Zane Goodin emphasized the significance of healthy grandchild-grandparent relationships due to increasing single-parent homes.

"With a lot of single parents these days, grandparents come into play more," he said.

Data gathered by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2011 reported that there were about 13.6 million single parents across the country responsible for raising 21.2 million, or 26 percent, of American children under 21.

The Ohio Department of Aging also reported last year that 1.4 million children nationally, almost one child in 20, live in a household headed by their grandparent with no parent present.

Some grandparents at the luncheon on Friday knew this situation all too well.

Still, even as these relationships are morphing to meet new, ever-changing needs, many grandparents said they feel blessed to have grandchildren.

Sanders summarized the unique relationship by calling it "a special patchwork of memories."