As retired grandparents, my husband and I felt inadequate as to how to entertain our three teenage grandchildren. We feared boredom would overtake them after they and their parents traveled 1,000 miles to visit us.
Grandma Pat’s Usual Activities
Since retiring, I’ve learned how to grow chrysanthemums for competition. I’m daily expending an enormous amount of energy on my chrysanthemum plants-all 188 of them.Their 2-gallon pots need to be turned 90 degrees every other day. Plus I mist several times a day when the temperature tops 90 degrees.
Next comes the issue of insects and worms. I never thought of myself as a vicious killer, but I get an adrenaline rush when I annihilate those aphids and little green worms. Even though my teenage grandchildren encourage my chrysanthemum-growing efforts, I suspected none-of-the-above activities would pass as entertainment in their eyes.
Grandpa’s Usual Activities
Then there’s Grandpa Gordon. His retirement activities include playing golf (well, he chases a ball around the golf course) every Tuesday with his retired friends. He reads the Los Angeles Times newspaper from cover-to-cover, responds to emails, and surfs the Web between short naps. When the mail comes he goes through all the catalogs-a new retirement skill. He loves it. But would three teenage grandchildren? Probably not.
We brainstormed for days before coming up with what was really an obvious decision: We would have to leave the house in order to entertain our three teenage grandchildren.
Finally we decided on a visit to Huntington Library and Gardens in Pasadena, not fifteen minutes from home. I made reservation for a 10:45 English High Tea at the Rose Garden Tea Room. That took care of Thursday’s outing. Whew!
English High Tea Orientation
Before we seven got seated in the van Thursday, we carefully explained to our three teenage grandchildren that English High Tea food would be different from fast food. However, because the English High Tea would be served as a buffet, they would get enough to eat. And we emphasized that they should just enjoy the experience.
Once we arrived at the Rose Garden Tea Room we were afraid we were in trouble when, after a quick view of the food choices, 12-year old Nathan bolted back to the table. In a stage whisper every diner heard he announced, “There’s no meat sandwiches over there!”
English High Tea Menu
What did he expect after our English High Tea orientation? Hamburgers and hotdogs? How could he complain when the types of sandwiches included: watercress and horseradish, tarragon chicken, white albacore, plus a salmon canapé? He finally tried the common variety egg-salad choice, then skipped straight to cheese and crackers.
Nathan liked the blueberry rosemary, apricot, and cranberry-orange scones served with marmalade, blueberry jam, butter, and cream. Except for the fruit in them. He skillfully picked out all of the fruit bits and creatively piled it neatly on his plate. (An aptitude we’ll need to discuss before his next English High Tea).
All three grandchildren enjoyed the assorted petite desserts: fruit tarts, fresh fruit, shortbread cookies, and banana bread. The hot tea choices-English Breakfast, Orange Herbal, or Strawberry Kiwi-went over well, too. Pots of tea were served piping hot, with as many refills as we desired.
Huntington Library Chinese Garden, Pinkie, and Blue Boy
It was 100 degrees when we headed for the lovely Chinese Garden. The heat soon drove us into three beautiful art galleries. Especially enjoyed was the history lesson given by the docent on the Huntington’s most famous pieces.
First we viewed “Pinkie,” a picture of a pre-teen girl painted by Thomas Lawrence in 1794. The girl died a week before the picture was exhibited, bringing it instant fame. Thomas Gainsborough painted the second picture, “Blue Boy,” in 1770. An interesting story about the boy model living up the street from Gainsborough was also shared.
An unexpected treat was to see Nathan get such a kick out of wheeling around in Grandpa’s wheelchair. The nicest happening? How graciously the three teenage grandchildren pushed Grandpa in his wheelchair all over the Huntington Library and Gardens grounds.
Five hours later we arrived back home, tired and satisfied. We’d entertained our three teenage grandchildren and enjoyed the activity ourselves. Later that evening we went to see “Music Man”. Our 10:30 arrival at home was late enough for them. They all immediately made a bee line for bed. We hadn’t heard the dreaded phrase “I’m bored.” once.
The next morning they announced they’ll visit us again next year. “Come on ahead,” we said. We retired grandparents have a whole year to research another way to entertain three teenage grandchildren. And we’ve already figured out that we will have to leave the house to do it.
Huntington Library and Gardens: http://www.huntington.org/default.aspx