Zero Plus 339
Are Nanny Grampies Under Sexist
By The Christian Science Monitor?
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York
City, August 17--On August 1, I wrote and published a story about the
"granny nannies," sparked from a story in the Christian Science
Monitor (CSM) extolling the virtues of grandmothers who take over the job
of child care for their grandchildren. It was a
wonderful tribute to what grandmothers are willing to do.
But then this Thursday my wife left for a
week trip to Montana to visit her elderly parents. Granny Nanny was
So was my daughter's husband, who is in
Guatemala on trip to work with the indigenous people there with his
brother, and sister-in-law, a native Guatemalan.
I realized that not only is my wife a Nanny
Granny, but I am also a Nanny Grampy.
This morning I scanned the Christian
Science Monitor for news, as I do the NY Times and LA Times, in search of
story lines that are both timely and timeless.
After ready the "glowing" reports of email
received by CSM staff writer Marilyn Gardner, author of the Nanny Granny
story, my ire was stabbed.
I realized that the story had all but
eliminated any reference to Nanny Grampies, or their role in helping Nanny
So I dashed off a letter to the CSM.
I reprint this letter for your consumption. And if you agree,
maybe you can send your Nanny Grampy story to the CSM. Whether they
respond or not is not important. What is important is that Nanny
Grampies exist, and do an important job in helping their grandchildren
ward off the Terrorisms of childhood.
Here is the letter I emailed.
Below, I've listed links to both my story, and the CSM story.
LETTER TO THE CHRISTIAN
Are Nanny Grampies Under Sexist
Attack By The Christian Science Monitor?
From: Cliff McKenzie
To: Marilyn Gardner/Editors
Re: Sexist Attack on Nanny Grampies?
Date: August 17, 2002
At first, I was impressed with the article on nanny grannies
written by Marilyn Gardner and published on August 1, 2002.
I gave it tribute on my
VigilanceVoice webpage, located at
as I was reading the glowing email responses to the story this
morning, the more I thought about the story being a "sexist
overlook" of an equally important role the Nanny Grampy plays.
I'm a Grandfather of Vigilance, a Nanny Grampy, using your
terms. I take pride in watching my grandchildren. I eagerly
look forward to helping out my daughter. I love taking the kids,
Matt, 6, Sarah 4, to give my daughter some relief from her many
challenges and burdens. I also do as much as I can
with my wife when she is being Nanny Granny to them, to help her
lighten the load of managing two thirsty youth who have boundless
energy and whose minds hunger to know everything about everything.
We came to New York City to be a
Nanny Granny and a Nanny
Grampy for our daughter. I suggested we move from
our home in Dana Point, California to be near our grandkids.
We gave up a beautiful ocean view, quiet serene surroundings, to
live in the hustle, bustle, noisy, crowded streets of New York
City where you are lucky to see a sunrise or sunset through the
cracks of a concrete forest.
We're also conservative Republicans from
Orange County, California, so adjusting to the highly liberalized,
diversity of New York City was in itself an emotional challenge.
But we had a goal bigger than our politics, or our unstable
financials. Being with the kids overshadowed those
We arrived here in December, 1999,
just in time to ring in the millennium. Our daughter was
fulfilling a lifetime dream--getting her Masters Of Divinity from
Union Theological Seminary here in New York. She
received a Presidential Scholarship, enabling her to afford to
attend, but her two children's loving care posed a major
Her husband also works with
disenfranchised, marginalized people of New York City. He
manages a home for elderly "street people," demanding endless time
We decided we'd be here for her as
well as her family.
We found an apartment close to hers,
in the East Village, a far cry from the beauty of Dana Point.
It was affordable, but not efficient. It has no
elevator. We walk up 59 steps to reach our fifth-floor abode
which would fit into our California home's master bedroom.
But by New York standards, it was a dream. Four rooms,
a kitchen, living room and bathroom and, only a few short blocks
from our daughter's apartment. We made one room a
"grandkids room.". And the house is full of toys,
children videos, the cupboards filled with juice and animal
While I can't take the full-time credit of Nannying the
kids, I do feel I have an important role-- I'm the back-up
Nanny--the Vigilant one who stands ready to step in and act, or
support the wear and tear young kids deliver to any grandparent's
patience and tolerance. In sports terms, I'm a Nanny Sweeper,
the utility player that can be called in to perform any task when
needed, but who lets the primary players rain in the glory of
But this week, I have been the primary Nanny Grampy.
My wife misjudged her visit to Montana. She thought our
son-in-law was coming back from Guatemala on Friday, the day after
she left to visit her parents. However, he's not returning
until Sunday evening. She was upset at the thought of leaving
our daughter to fend three kids, wishing she had better scheduled
her departure to coincide with our son-in-law's return.
That left me--Nanny Grampy--to fill the gap.
I love kids. When our children were born, my wife worked
early in the mornings at a hospital as a microbiologist, leaving at
4 a.m. and returning around noon. I was in sales and budgeted my
time to be at home with the children, two lovely daughters. I
was then a Nanny Daddy. I did all the things a mother would do,
loving every minute of it. When my wife would come home, I would
transfer the duty to her.
I read books, taught the kids to read and think, watched
Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers, played, took them to Sea World almost
every day--we had season passes and it was just down the street
from our home in Pacific Beach, California--and bonded with them
in a way only a parent can who spends quality time with his or her
child. My goal was to teach our children to stand tall in a
world that often tries to limit their potential. Our
two daughters have--one is a social justice worker, the other a
federal law enforcement officer.
So, when my wife left, I was well-armed to handle my
grandkids. In my estimation, I was a proven Nanny Grampy,
regardless of that omission in the CSM article.
Each day, I've assumed total responsibility for the kids,
or helped my daughter with them. I even bought an $11 stroller
from K-Mart and extended the handles so I could push it without
bending over--(I'm 6-4 and weigh in at 266)--so my four-year-old
granddaughter could ride in it and not on my shoulders--her
favorite place to avoid walking.
I take them to the Museum of Natural History where we
examine the history of things, especially the dinosaurs. I play
Rescue Hero, and make sure we stop at Toys 'R Us on 42nd Street to
ride the Ferris wheel and watch the kids play on the huge Thomas
I've taken them swimming at Tompkins Square park,
Vigilantly assuring I keep an eye on both of them, swimming with
them on my back to teach them not to be afraid. One of my
favorite Nanny Grampy places to go is FAO Schwartz Toy Store on 5th
Avenue, where the grandest toys are out for all the children to
play with. FAO story tellers dressed in costumes gather the
children every couple of hours to dramatically read them a fairy
tale or two.
Yesterday, I took the kids for the entire afternoon while
my daughter attended to some correspondence that had been piling
up. We lazed around the apartment in air conditioned comfort as
the temperature swelled to over 90 in a major heat rash invading
New York City. We watched Little Bears, Thomas Train, The
Bearington's Search For The Lost Dinosaur, Powder Puff Girls, and
a host of other lesson-filled videos. We read books, played
with robots and Cinderella figures.
In the cooling of the evening, I went to 4th Street Park
with the kids to hook up with our daughter and baby Angus, our
newest grandchild born nine months after September 11, a symbol of
how life must go on in the face of tragedy.
It was a refreshing evening at the park.
I took my grandson home and we got the two-wheeler bikes and
brought them back and rode around the cool park until it was
closed, at nearly 10 p.m. I made a trip to the local grocery
store and bought a chicken, juice and Gatorade. We had
a picnic as the kids played.
Today, I'll also take on some "watching" of the kids.
But as a Nanny Grampy, my job is more than just to be a pair
of eyes so they don't get in any danger. My real job is to teach
them about life. To offer answers, to burrow into their minds
and help them understand life from their perspective, to offer
reasons why they should do this or that, and to teach them to
learn to think, and to act fairly with others and themselves.
My wife does it. So do I. Granny Nannies or
Granny Grampies aren't about watching kids, they are about
teaching kids about life.
The other day I reminded my six-year-old grandson he was
the "man-in-charge" while his father was gone to Guatemala and to
help his mother by not whining and demanding. I suggested he
say, "How Can I Help You, Mom?" We had this conversation in
private, just he and I, two guys talking. He agreed and said
he would try.
Watching children and worrying about them is a tiring but
rewarding job. I certainly don't want to suggest by any measure
that a Granny Grampy has any edge over a Granny Nanny. But I am
suggesting that there is an equality, an equity for the Granny
Grampy that was overlooked in the Christian Science Monitor
In a way, it could be called "sexist."
It didn't give us Granny Grampies any true credit for
what we do, or suggest the teamwork that exists between the
grandmother and grandfather in relation to the care necessary for
their children's children.
As a Grandparent of Vigilance, I keep a watchful eye on
the Terrorisms that can infect a child. I do my best to guard
them from intrusion of Fear, Intimidation or Complacency into
their minds. I try to balance those demons of Terrorism with the
tools of Vigilance--Courage, Conviction and Right Actions. My
wife does the same.
I know that there are countless Granny
myself. We just aren't in the spotlight. We're utility
players. We're also a vital balance to the health and well-being
of a child's development.
So, I wanted the Christian Science Monitor to consider
doing a story on Granny Grampies.
I think that would be fair.
But whether or not we get any ink isn't
relevant. Granny Grampies do their jobs because they love their
grandkids just as much as Granny Nannies.
When a grandchild puts his or her arms around you, and
says, "I love you G-Pa," there's no story in the world in any
paper that could rival that feeling.
Clifford A. McKenzie--aka--Nanny Grampy.
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