A Grandmother’s Guide to Bonding with Grandsons


It’s easy to bond with granddaughters. You bake cookies together, and then you have a tea party. You read Harry Potter or Alice, I Think. You let them style your hair until it’s dripping with barrettes and scrunchies. You make crafts with beads and sequins and smelly felts and the glitter glue that will NEVER come out of the carpet. On a sunny day, you might play hopscotch in the driveway. On a rainy day, you might explore the contents of your jewel box. Bonding with grandsons can be a harder proposition for a grandma. Raising four boys, however, has given me useful insights into the psyche of the young human male. They like food. They need to move. They love showing off to an appreciative audience. (Did I mention food?) One rainy afternoon my 11-year-old grandson Levi came to my house for a couple of hours while his dad attended a meeting. Rainy weather ruled out yard chores or a visit to the playground, so we decided to watch a movie. Popcorn was duly popped and soft drinks selected. We were browsing through Netflix offerings when Levi cried: “Wait! I watched this movie at my friend Zach’s house and it’s sooooo good but I didn’t get to see the ending. Can we watch it, Grandma? Please? Please? Please?” What had caught his eye was “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island,” a 2012 followup to the 2008 film version of Jules Verne’s “Journey to the Centre of the Earth.” The more recent movie is based loosely on another Verne classic, “The Mysterious Island.” It soon became apparent that the only resemblance to the original story was the title and the fact that it did, indeed, take place on an island. The mysterious aspect was how this stinker ever got made. But who cares? It had everything an 11-year-old boy could possibly want: the lost island of Atlantis and huge lizards and Dwayne Johnson (aka “The Rock”) and miniature elephants and Vanessa Hudgens and the mummified body of Captain Nemo and generational angst and a volcano that spit out boulders of solid gold. (And, for Grandma, an aging but still foxy Michael Caine, camping it up in his final movie role.) Our brave adventurers got lost in the jungle, were swept over waterfalls, rode on giant bees, discovered ancient ruins, and (in a nod to the original story) realized that the island would be sinking back into the sea in JUST!!! THREE!!! HOURS!!! A frantic search ensued for the Nautilus, Captain Nemo’s 120-year-old submarine, duly located in a skeleton-filled cave. Not surprisingly, the ancient batteries were out of juice. But no worries, folks! The Rock, resplendent in a 120-year-old diving suit, lured a supersized electric eel to the sub. An epic underwater wrestling match ensued. Guess who won? After using the energy of the subdued beast to recharge the batteries, our valiant heroes emerged from the sea as the island slowly disappeared under the waves. Levi’s dad arrived during this final scene, impatient to get home. His suggestion that we finish the movie another time was greeted by general hysteria, whereupon he retreated to his van, leaving us to wallow in the 11 remaining minutes of angst. After they left, Grandma spent considerably more than 11 minutes vacuuming bits of popcorn from the floor on Levi’s side of the couch. She then brewed a pot of strong coffee, raided her secret stash of chocolate, chose a nice romantic comedy from her DVD collection, and spent two blissful, angst-free hours recovering from bonding with an 11-year-old boy.