A writer, her granddaughters, and the magic of Sicily

Every day, I read what journalists around the world are reporting about grandparents and their families. Here are some stories that gripped me recently.

ENTHRALLED BY SICILY, AGAIN

Writes author Francine Prose, “On the subject of travel, my father used to say: ‘You can’t go back. Avoid the places you loved when you were young, because they’ll have changed, and you’ll be disappointed.’”

But on a recent trip to Sicily with her granddaughters, Prose discovered that her dad had been wrong.

The New York Times • May 30, 2016

BOY, 6, PAIRS WITH GREAT-GRANDFATHER TO WIN BOWLING EVENT

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Mitchell Bannister of Grand Falls-Windsor, Canada with his great-grandfather, Joe Tremblett. Photo by The Advertiser.

Mitchell Bannister, 6, and his 93-year-old great-grandfather recently teamed up to win a bowling tournament in their hometown in Newfoundland, Canada.

“He’s even better than me,” says Mitchell, who belongs to the local youth bowling league.

“My dream has come true.”

The Advertiser • May 16, 2016

A FEW MILES FROM DISNEYLAND, A FULLERTON GRANDFATHER ENGINEERS HIS OWN MAGIC KINGDOM

Steve Dobbs in his backyard, which he now calls Dobbsland. Photo by the Los Angeles Times.

Steve Dobbs in his backyard, which he now calls Dobbsland. Photo by the Los Angeles Times.

Steve Dobbs, 68, an engineering professor in Fullerton, Calif., has spent the past three years designing and building an amusement park for his grandkids in his 1600-square-foot backyard.

“It started off small, but I got carried away,” says Steve. “My grandkids love Disneyland and they go there, so I have to compete. I can’t just have a swing set in my backyard.”

Steve’s older grandkids helped him construct the park’s roller coaster, which has been certified for safety and can carry one passenger weighing up to 185 pounds.

The Los Angeles Times • June 11, 2016

PARENTS, STOP MICROMANAGING KIDS’ RELATIONSHIPS WITH GRANDPARENTS

“My grandma had a big personality, for better or worse,” says Christine Organ, a writer and mother who lives in the Chicago suburbs. “It is impossible to separate the woman who baked with me and taught me how to play Rummy from the woman who awoke in the middle of the night to have a smoke, and who once caused me to run from the room in tears after her ‘brutally honest’ advice about my frizzy hair and teen acne.”

“She was gregarious and funny and amusing, and though she wasn’t the doting kind of grandmother, in her own way, she was present and attentive. She pulled you into her world, making no apologies for what her world looked like, and in doing so she etched herself into your world as well. And perhaps one of the primary reasons we had this firmly etched bond was because my parents simply got the heck out of the way.”

The Washington Post • June 3, 2016

THE BEST WAY TO HELP A GRANDCHILD WITH COLLEGE

In a recent survey by Fidelity Investments, more than half of grandparents said they were saving or planned to start saving for their grandchildren’s college educations.

To get the most bang for the buck, many grandparents are opening 529 accounts, in which money is earmarked for future tuition payments and grows tax-free.

The New York Times • May 27, 2016

CHILDREN OF HEROIN CRISIS FIND REFUGE IN GRANDPARENTS’ ARMS

As more and more parents fall prey to the heroin epidemic, more and more children are being raised by their grandparents.

“At the time of the custody hearing, both my daughter and the children’s father were in jail on drug-related charges,” says grandmother Jane Joukovsky, 74, of La Quinta, Calif.

“I remember the judge asking me how long I thought it would be before the children’s parents would be capable of taking care of their children. I optimistically said, ‘Oh, about six months, your honor.’ Well, here we are more than 20 years later.”

“It can be a third of your life caring for grandkids when addiction is in the picture.”

The New York Times • May 21, 2016