As usual, my summers off as a teacher are going to be spent watching my kid's children. There is a new twist this summer, since I am suddenly the step-granddad of three boys, ages 6, 8 and 11. Their mom was a single mom, and all of them seem hungry for adult male contact. If I let them have their way, they'd spend the whole summer playing computer games. I won't tolerate this-- boys should be outside playing in the Summer. Not to mention, they need to guided towards manliness. Suggestions on what to do with them would be greatly appreciated. I should mention, that my 6-year-old granddaughter, who is in many ways more manly than they are, will be with me most of the summer as well.

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Something I should mention: I am currently trying to teach them that every boo-boo does not need an adult's intervention and a mommy kiss. Rub dirt on it!

Brown Fox;

We have two grandsons, ages 4 1/2 and 8 years old (today's his b'day). While their parents work, my wife and I have the boys three to four days a week for about 10 hours a day. Lots of outside play, bikes and battery operated police car plus helping with yard work (raking grass clippings, deadheading flowers, watering plants and tending their own little patch of zinnias) take up about half the day. Hardy Boys mysteries and story reading are for times of rest. Swimming at their aunt and uncle's home (our daughter and her husband's pool) is a new summer adventure as the boys both are learning to swim. Papa (me) is getting a good work out at almost 70 years of age. I come home from the pool feeling like I've been wrestling alligators for an hour and a half.

We have excursions to our elderly neighbors who live a mile down the road. The neighbors in their 80's enjoy the boys immensely and the visits teach the boys about serving others.

Water color painting is for rainy days or for any day, for that matter. There is something about water colors that fascinates young and old minds.

Playing in a grove of trees near the front of our house sparks fun-time imagination with fantasy play of making the grove a fort, a place to "work," or just a fun hideout.

Legos for the older boy and playing with Papa's tools for the younger are good desperation childcare activities.

The older boy likes to cook so my wife plans a "cooking" time with him several times during the summer and winter (we home school the older boy). The younger boy does very well at washing dishes (supervised, of course).

Sometimes we all take a power nap which is more for me than for them. Our local nature conservancy provides a number of events throughout the summer (nature hikes, Wednesday science days, a natural playscape, birds of prey lectures with injured birds present as a certified presenter brings them up close and personal.

Birdwatching with a field manual to learn more about the details of our resident population of Baltimore orioles, rose breasted grosbeaks, cardinals, indigo buntings, house wrens, (underrated) sparrows, bluejays, nuthatches, gold finches, titmice, mourning doves and murderous but majestic hawks.

At night time several times during the summer, we track the International Space Station when its orbit brings itself into our viewing area. This is a LOT of fun since many times we have to stay up late and they get to spend the night with us.

The list goes on.

Make a great summer, Brown Fox. Make lots of memories and get plenty of rest. It's great that you have these little ones (and big ones) in your life. The best job one can have is being with kids and loving them and anointing them with your presence as a man.

My best,


Thanks! Lots of good ideas here.

"Walk it off!"  Or my maternal grandmother's favorite, "Put a little Christian Science on it."  (She was a nurse.)

Go old-school:

Pack them off to some far-away camp, read their letters as you bask by the pool during cocktail hour.

Pick them up a few days before school starts...done! 



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