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Who needs a vacation when you've got grandkids?

Nancy Tellecamp of Port Richey wrote about her first grandchild, Erika Rae Martinez, and an Easter egg hunt they shared.

Joydine Tiedeman of Palm Harbor recalled being a grandchild and the childhood visits to her grandparents' and great-grandparents' homes she made many years ago with an aunt who recently turned 90.

Mary French's descriptions of her two great-grandsons are so vivid that you can almost hear them laughing.

French, Tellecamp and Tiedeman are just three of the Tampa Bay area grandparents who responded to our request last month in LifeTimes for stories about grandchildren.

We hope more of you will share your experiences with the Grands in next month's issue. So send them via e-mail to jhill2@, or by U.S. mail to Jan Brackett, c/o the St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.

What is most striking about each of the stories we received is the closeness and warmth of family they evoke.

In Tellecamp's reminiscences, she recalls rooting for her 4-year-old granddaughter as the child hunted in futile for Easter eggs hidden by Sunday school staff outside the family's church. Erika was among the youngest children in the hunt.

"I wish I could report that Erika found some eggs," Tellecamp writes. "One hundred and twenty eggs (hidden) and she didn't even find one."

Erika did get one egg from a child who found several, but was disappointed that the colorful eggs eluded her on the hunt.

Tellecamp says that all she could think to say as she tried to comfort Erika was "what we old Brooklyn Dodger fans frequently said: 'Wait 'til next year.' ''

French, whose wry sense of humor shines through in virtually every line of her story, recalls that her own great-grandfather "was about as kid-friendly as a box of sharp knives."

French seems to be the antithesis of her great-grandfather.

She has warmly welcomed — and rocked and sang to — three grandchildren and now is besotted with great-grandchildren, specifically Connor and Zachary.

Connor came first. GG — French — and PawPaw provided occasional child care.

Up to that point, GG and PawPaw had spent a fair amount of time traveling. But they found that Connor was as entertaining as any trip they made.

When Zachary came along 20 months later, his parents, grandparents and great-grandparents worried about how Connor would take to the new baby.

"As it turned out, Connor chose to just go on with life!" French wrote. "He would hug and kiss the baby and sometimes make big attempts to play with him. But for the most part, Connor simply went on about his business."

Later, of course, when Zachary began stealing his toys, the competition between the boys began — and will continue, along with absolute loyalty and love — forever.

"They love one another so fiercely that it can make one weep," French writes. "They dislike each other so much that it's scary, and, thank goodness, temporary."

Their antics, fights, hugs and devotion still captivate GG and PawPaw.

"PawPaw and I still mention a jaunt to some exotic place. To loll under the sun or watch the skiers in the Alps. Sip liquor from a coconut in Maui or tea from fine china in London," French says.

"Shucks! Who wouldn't like to do that?"

But they're not willing to leave the boys.

"So if anyone out there knows whether or not kids under 6 are admitted free in any of these places, would you let us know?"

French's story brings up several issues faced by grandparents or great-grands: providing child care and traveling with your grands.

Do you do either?

Let us know.

French's story brings up another wrinkle in the whole grandparent thing: the nicknames their children's children or their grandchildren's children call them.

Like French, I'm GG. Ego played a role in my decision. I didn't want to be Grandma or Meemaw or Nana.

What do your grandchildren or great-grands call you?

And why?

Look for The Grands in next month's LifeTimes and online at

Judy Hill is a grandmother and freelance writer in St. Petersburg. E-mail:; by mail: Jan Brackett, c/o the St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.

Who needs a vacation when you've got grandkids? 01/26/09 [Last modified: Monday, January 26, 2009 9:52am]
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