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Grandparents Are Great

Updated on March 17, 2017

The Extended Family in Agrarian Societies

It is very rare now to find three generations living in one compound. Living in apartments in Toronto or Moscow makes matters worse. Cramped spaces lead to cramped tempers that eventually blow up.

Living together was made possible by open spaces in rural areas, where grandparents had their houses within the same circle.

A lot has been written about grandparents being ‘hard drives’ of knowledge, but the reality is that the internet is now the initiation school for most young people.

Hang Out with Your Grandparents

What you often overlook is that you can get many ‘cool’ things from grandma and granddad. How about retro clothes like the 'Arby' hats Pharrell Williams' likes? Grandparents also have cool information that will help you slam dunk college papers and land with higher grades.

Your grandparents have something, whether they went to school or not. They know stuff because they have been to places, worked in places, got broke or rich in some places. They might even know more things than Dr. Peabody, the president of your college.

Pharrell Williams Grammy winning producer of 2013 song Happy.
Pharrell Williams Grammy winning producer of 2013 song Happy.

Establish a Pattern for Bonding with Grandparents

You can have a million followers on Twitter, but they do not have a fraction of knowledge that your grandparents have. You do not have to sit down with a cellphone recorder and ask them questions.

Your grandfather for example. He might still be able to ride a bike. You can do that once a week in the park when you are not working or in school.

He will be happy to answer your questions if he detects that you are sincere. He might find pushing a microphone in his face disrespectful and pull the shutters down.

Questions for Granddad

  1. Was mum born in Tokyo or Kobe?

  2. Have you always been a mechanic?

  3. So all cars were assembled by hand and not by robots?

  4. Are you really 80 years old?

  5. Seaweed? Granddad? Does it really have Vitamin C, calcium and iron?

The answers to these questions can result in a family history that was determined by political or economic circumstances. It might further reveal why you were born in Canada.

Your grandfather might give you valuable information about car production in Japan. He might give you the nuts and bolts about car design that will help you in your Mechanical Engineering course.

Maybe he knew Kiichiro Toyoda, who added value to his father’s company by creating a car manufacturing arm in 1937.

You will also feel good when his eyes light up, as he remembers how he contributed to the economy, during his working years.

The questions above also include food or should we say nutrition. The way some people measure everything they eat, it is as if they have just discovered healthy living.

Yes, you live on smoothies and quinoa, but your grandfather is healthy at 80 because of things you look down upon like seaweed.

Holocaust Movies

In the movie Marathon Man starring Dustin Hoffman, a woman identifies Szell (Laurence Olivier) a Nazi war criminal in New York, but he ignores her and hurries on. Szell has more pressing problems. He is wondering if he could retrieve his diamonds from a bank vault without being robbed.

Movies have been instrumental about the Holocaust. We know a little bit because of what we saw on the big screen and television. Holocaust movies generate heated debate.

“It’s enough. We get the message.”

“Let the Germans tell their side of the story.”

“Leave these old men alone. They are grandfathers for god’s sake.”

Our grandparents and grandparents are part of history, whether they are Nazi collaborators, slave owners, slavery middlemen or the white security officers during apartheid that killed the Black Consciousness genius, Stephen Bantu Biko in South Africa.

Get Better Grades Because of Grandparents

Reading books by ‘experts’ in a particular subject is the foundation of college or university education. In some countries, you cannot pass unless you memorise your current professor’s books.

The problem with academic books is that the intention is to keep it in the family. Academics quote each other.

I don’t know whether it is a written law or academic common law. Anthropology is a good example. It is not a good paper if you do not quote Malinowski.

Listening to your grandfather will give you a better picture about the life of first nations in Papa New Guinea, Canada, Africa or Asia before men from Europe descended upon them and called them savages in anthropology books.

Another example is midwifery. Your grandmother’s experience as a midwife counts because like her mother before her, she assisted women in giving birth. That wealth of knowledge can help you as a medical student.

Education should not be about re-hashing academic books. You can get better grades in term papers if you include your grandparents’ experience.

You can use their old documents like some army identification, school certificates, immigration papers etc. to support your argument in a college paper.

Malia and Sasha Obama's grandmother Marian Shields Robinson (pink top)
Malia and Sasha Obama's grandmother Marian Shields Robinson (pink top)

Grandparents in History

It is easy for grandparents to put a lid on this history because they live alone, with their memories, but they could be a good resource if you are in college.

You are there to look for knowledge, so why don’t you start at home? Your grandma could have original facts and figures that are not in any book or blog.

Once again, some leading questions can start with, where were you grandma?

  • When Malcolm X was assassinated

  • When Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau died.

  • When Hawaii became the 50thU.S. state on 21 August, 1959

  • When the U.S invaded Iraq

  • During the creation of Pakistan

  • During the 1994 elections in South Africa

  • During the Nigerian Civil War

  • When Emperor Haile Selassie died

Nostalgia Trips with Grandparents

Road Trip with Grandparents

Your grandmother is still alive. Maybe she has passed on leaving you with granddad. It will be great if both of them are still alive.

Surprise them next time they talk about Italy where they were born. One of them comes from a family of eight children.

You do not believe it because fewer people in Europe are having children now. The birth rate has fallen big time.

It is not like the scenario in Ciao, Professore! the Italian film dealing with big families in Naples, Italy. Tell them that you would like to see the old country.

Plan for next summer.

  • Ask them to speak Italian to you.

  • They should prepare an itinerary.

  • Prepare a budget.

  • Put everything on your VISA or MasterCard.

  • Find out about the conversion from dollars to euros.

You do not have to take your grandma or grandpa to Europe. Your grandmother was born in Toronto but her job as a computer analyst brought her to Winnipeg. She never left after marrying your grandfather.

Fill up the car and drive from Winnipeg to Toronto in the fall. The beauty of leaves shedding colour in preparation for winter will astound you.

Twitter Social Networking

Twitter/Social Networking

Your Facebook or Twitter friends are an illusion. You wouldn’t be caught dead with some of them in real life. You don’t know who they are because photos are going out of fashion.

The time you spend with your grandparents on the other hand is like gardening. Your grandmother will give you information that will useful not only in college but in your whole life.

You like sharing and re-tweeting? Charity begins at home. Let your grandma or granddad re-tweet their lives to you. You will later re-tweet it to your kids.



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