Skipagenerational Communications Phenomenon
grandchildren communicate in a special kind of way.
Hereís a for instance:
The grandmother is on the floor with a four-year-old
boy building a Lego garage for his new fire truck.
She even makes truck engine and siren-like noises.
And hereís the granddad
with his five-year-old granddaughter holding a
birthday party for Barbie and her friends. Who
would have thought a granddad could fuss over
Rapunzelís long hair?
This kind of
communication involves words, certainly, but also
hand gestures, and probably some sounds that would
sound weird unless you were also privy to this
special wave length.
I am not a doctor. I
arrange yacht charters and liveaboard yacht courses
for a living. But I am a keen observer of human
behavior. I call this Skipagenerational
Communications Phenomenon (SCP).
This is not to knock the
terrific two-generational communications Iíve noted
in some families, especially boating families. The
Fort family of Spartanburg, South Carolina comes to
mind. Dad, mom, daughter and two sons took courses
at Florida Cruising and Sailing School. The older
son went sailing while the rest took Powerboat
101-102. After they returned home, I got a super,
nice letter from the dad thanking us for the courses
and I could tell by the tone that this is a family
generous with its compliments to others and to each
Communications Phenomenon is different. Iíve asked
grandparents about it and they confirm that it
exists. One suggested the possibility of a special
gene that kicks in when a grandchild enters the life
of a grandparent. ďI didnít realize how connected I
would feel to a child that wasnít my own except that
of course, it is my child, isn't it?Ē
Grandkids, meanwhile, may
wonder what the fuss is all about. But when GPs are
passing out pocket or purse change and Cheetos, one
doesnít argue, does one?
Parents, busy with what
parents do and grateful for the free baby-sitting
service, usually just stay out of the way.
The GP-GK connection
stays strong through the years. Good anecdotal
evidence of this occurs when the grandchildren grow
out of toddlerhood and grandparents take them on a
Recently, we chartered a
vessel for a cruise by three generations of the
Family Trachtenberg of Pennsylvania. Grandparents.
Parents. Grandson, 7. Perfect.
Granddad Joe Trachtenberg
wrote me that this was one of the best vacations the
family ever had. When they put in at South Seas
Plantationís marina they saw manatees all around
them. Do you think that made an impression on a
seven-year-old? Do you think Grandmother took note?
Oh. My. Yes.
Maybe a seven-year-old
camped out under the stars on the foredeck. Maybe he
got to wear his favorite T-shirt all week. I didnít
happened. Perhaps a certain young person got to stay
up later than he ever has in his whole life and
listen to his granddad tell ghost stories. I
wouldnít have been surprised to learn that the
grandson got to sit at the helm station with
Granddad and steer a Mainship 43 for a few minutes.
Or, that Grandmother Trachtenberg made her very
special pancakes one morning. By special request.
So far as I know the
scientific literature hasnít discussed SCP but
marketing people are clearly aware of it. I've seen
advertisements for multi-generational vacations for
Disney, dude ranches and cruises.
vacations always give extended families a chance to
reconnect. Mom and Dad get a little break from
taking care of the kids 24/7. Grandma and Grandpa
treasure the time that the entire family is
But that special
communications link between grandparents and
grandchildren is, truly, the two-part epoxy that
glues all three generations together so tightly.