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Journaling for Our Grandchildren

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Bookstores sell many varieties of blank books for journaling.

By Tina Tipton

“Journal Writing…Connecting the Past, Present and Future for our Grandchildren”

By Tina Tipton

     When you meet me in person, it is not too far into our conversation that I am not telling you about my three best friends...my grandchildren Luke, Shelby and Matthew. I have many stories about them, and I tell those stories about the past, present and what is hoped for them in their future. I do that story telling verbally and in writing for them.

     Knowing how many stories I do tell, a friend gave me a journal as a gift, a blank book in which I can collect my stories. I want to share with you some of my thoughts about journal writing for our grandchildren.

     It is important that you have a book specifically purchased for your journaling.

      Book stores sell attractive lined and unlined blank books for journaling. Or your journal can be as simple as an inexpensive notebook. Whatever you choose, set it aside to use to tell “your story.” 

     When you are verbally telling the stories to your grandchildren about the past, present and the hoped for future, be sure to go back and write those stories down in your journal while they’re still fresh in your mind as I do. We all know that people need to hear something many times before they remember it, so do not assume your grandchildren will remember a story you have told them once. Write it down!

     As you write in your journal, put your feelings, emotions and excitement into the writing. My grandsons share a birthday. Yes, they were born on the same day 4 years apart.  I told them about being there when they were born. I told them how scared I was and how I prayed a lot and that helped. I also told them how I felt the first time I saw them. It is also important for your grandchildren to hear your feelings in your writing. Share your excitement so they can they hear it in your written voice.

      The other day my grandchildren asked about where their names came from when they were born and how their Mom selected them. I listened and later wrote their questions down in my journal. That was a story in and of itself in Shelby’s younger years too, which went into the journal. Now in the 3rd grade, when she was in kindergarten, she went to school and told her teacher that Shelby County, Lake Shelby and Shelby County High School were all named after her! Well, we had to tell her later that she was named after Shelby County and why! I wrote that story in my journal and added my thoughts on “confidence.” What a confident granddaughter I have who thought that someone named a county and school after her!! She also heard the laughter in the written voice of her grandmother. Remember you want them to read these journals when you are not with them later on in life, and they need to hear the excitement in your voice and be able to imagine the smile on your face when you wrote the stories. That is what you want them to remember about you, right?

     I not only write stories about my past, but also their mother’s (my daughter's) past and stories about her from her earlier years. How many times have you told a story about your children or grandchildren to a friend and they have asked you, “Did you write it down?” Make sure to do that. I would have forgotten some of the best stories about what my daughter and granchildren have done, if I had not immediately gone and written them down. 

            One such story is about a special tradition in our family. We go each Thanksgiving holiday and pick out books for “Reading Reindeer” to donate.   My grandchildren each get to pick out one book to keep, but all the others go to their “Reading Reindeer Friends.” When she was much younger, my granddaughter Shelby could not understand who these  “friends” were.  So I had to provide names such as Sally, Donnie, Tom and Samantha. As we continue this tradition each year, she always picks books out for each child as if they are for her personal friends, and she feels they now have faces. That is another story I have written down in my journal.

              When I write about the hoped for future for them, it is about what we have talked about before as a family. And yes, I slip in my expectations. I want them to go to college and to know how important an education is, so we have always talked about that and continue to do so. My oldest grandson tells the others that if you do not pick the University of Kentucky, Gran will not pay for your education! I am not sure where he has heard that, but I wrote it in my journal along with stories about my own past college experiences at UK and why a little girl from New Castle in the 1960’s could go to a big university and make it!!

              Our grandchildren need to hear about the expectations we have for their futures in our writings. Then, when they read our journals in later years, we can share our high expectations for them. We can share in our own voices how we met challenges head on and made it and our confidence that they can do the same.   

     I am not an expert grandmother or journal writer, but I do believe that we have to connect the past, present and hoped for future for our grandchildren.  I do that through my story telling, verbally and in journal writing.  It is a gift to my best friends, my grandchildren.

Tina Tipton has served as a professional educator for 45 years.  She was Deputy Superintendent of Shelby County Public Schools and Interim Superintendent with Eminence Independent Schools.  She is currently serving as Chief Academic Officer/Deputy CEO with the Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative.  A mother and grandmother, Tipton has been a member of First Baptist Church of Shelbyville for 41 years.