Look up and soak in the wonder
Dear Annie: I've seen lots of parents (or babysitters) gabbing on the phone as they push strollers or baby carriages. The tots are getting no attention. Once, I saw a large dog, unleashed and apparently unaccompanied, dash up to a youngster in a stroller. Happily, the dog meant no ill and simply gave the child a big, slobbery kiss. And the stroller's pusher? She missed the entire incident.
She also missed -- as they all do -- the fun of watching the baby's reactions to the sun and sky and trees and people. And dogs, too. But the cellphone-addicted parents are oblivious. Why isn't bonding with their kids more important than bonding with their phones? -- Kids Are Better Than Phones
Dear Kids Are Better Than Phones: Being in the moment and drinking in all of life's beautiful experiences is something that should be treasured for everyone. And for parents and guardians, their children's safety is also at risk when not properly monitored.
Dear Annie: A common theme among your readers is the desire to spend more time with family, especially grandchildren. From my experience as a granddaughter, mother and grandmother, I have some ideas to help your readers become more visible and accessible to their families by planning carefully. The first step is to be proactive.
Almost everyone today has a cellphone. Contact your family to set up a convenient time to have short visits using FaceTime or other video apps. You will feel like you are there, and no one has to leave the house!
When you do want to visit, call ahead to select a time that does not interrupt meals and daily family schedules. If bath time is 6:30 p.m., plan your arrival to create a natural time limit without the awkwardness of choosing when to depart.
Make "dinner night" a monthly event, keeping in mind working parents' and kids' activities. Let the kids help choose the menu or place. Meet at a favorite restaurant or bring a home-cooked meal (Mom's or Grandma's special recipes) to their house. If possible, invite them to your house for a meal. Create excitement for your grandchildren (and their parents) by dropping off a surprise dessert. Many kids enjoy baking. Invite them over occasionally to help you create those treats. Get out those old cookie cutters; many kids have never seen them. Even older children will get caught up in creating something special. Make grandchildren want to receive mail from you! Keep in touch by sending fun little notes or cards at times other than birthdays or holidays. Dollar stores have inexpensive stationery, cards and stickers. Use colorful markers to write and decorate your notes. The post office sells fun and interesting stamps. To encourage a response, supply stationery and stamps (some pre-addressed envelopes), and ask your grandkids to send you a hand-drawn picture or note about something they are doing.
Ask for a copy of your grandchildren's schedules and attend their activities when time permits. Most schools have websites that list daily sports schedules and other events. Check these frequently for changes. Family time is precious. Make it happen. -- Been There and Still Doing That
Dear Still Doing That: These are really thoughtful suggestions. Thank you for sending your letter
Ask me aything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book -- featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit www.creatorspublishing.c om for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to mailto: email@example.com