2009-11-26 / Local & State

“Grandparents Handbook” Is Perfect Guide

PA Women Wrote The Book
By Bruce R. Posten READING EAGLE

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Parenthood doesn’t come with a manual, but “The Grandparents Handbook’’ may be the perfect guide for those who wish to make the most out of precious moments with their grandchildren.

The book, filled with tips, activities, games, recipes and nuggets of family wisdom, was created by freelance writer Elizabeth LaBan, 42, a mother of two, with help from her mother Barbara (Klopp) Trostler, 78. Trostler, a native of the Berks County area around Reading, Pa., 50 miles east of Harrisburg and northwest of Philadelphia, now lives only about four blocks from her daughter’s family in Philadelphia.

LaBan said her father-in-law, Myron LaBan, also contributed to the book, as did a handful of Trostler’s Berks County friends and relatives, all grandparents.

As a celebration of grandparenting, the book is part parenting refresher course and part activity book focusing on games, crafts, cooking and places to visit.

It is also filled with practical wisdom from the grandmothers themselves, lessons learned throughout their lives in the art of being a grandparent.

Some examples of do’s and don’ts these grandparents have learned:

“Don’t overrule something that a parent has said. Never indulge a grandchild and then say, ‘But don’t tell your parents.’’’

“Do remember their birthdays. Do love them unconditionally. Do laugh at their jokes. Do give lots of hugs. Don’t try to take parents’ role.’’

“Do be supportive, don’t be judgmental. Long hair, loud music (are phases) that will pass.’’

And the list goes on and on.

Most importantly, however, the book stresses the importance of bonding for both grandparents and children.

“More than any single thing, every grandparent said they wished they had spent more time with their grandchildren,’’ LaBan wrote in her introduction. “They had learned that doing things together is so much more important than giving gifts. They had learned that the shared time with their grandchildren was the true gift.’’

With more adults pressed for time or living some distances from their grandchildren, the idea of having a grandparenting guide may seen particularly suited for the times.

“I do think a child’s relationship with a grandparent can be special,’’ LaBan said. “Grandparents often do have the luxury to spend the necessary time to focus on the child, even more than busy parents.’’

Growing up in New York state, LaBan fondly recalled regular visits to her grandmother who then resided in Reading.

“My father’s side is Jewish, and my mother’s side is Pennsylvania Dutch, so food played a big part in our culture,’’ she said. “There is a recipe in the book called Nanny’s Butter Biscuits that comes from my mother’s side of the family and has been passed down.’’

“I loved visiting my grandmother and being in the kitchen where she would often make apple pies,’’ LaBan said. “That’s something my mother does with my children now.’’

It is not rocket science to discover whatever someone loves to do and then enjoy doing it with them.

That may be at the heart of LaBan’s book.

For LaBan’s mother, the book is a testimonial to her special relationship with her grandchildren, Alice, 10, and Arthur, 8.

“It may seen strange to say, but there was a time when my grandchildren were very young that I discovered they really liked me, loved me, were always excited to see me,’’ Trostler said.

A self-described grandmother who got down on the floor to play with her grandchildren, Trostler continues to read, bake, cook and take walks with them.

“We’ve always done nice, wonderful things together,’’ she said.

But early in her life, Trostler was a career woman, a 1948 graduate of Reading High School and a 1952 graduate of Penn State University who majored in English and drama.

“I truly wanted to be in radio, the dramas, soap operas and shows, but I was a little late for it,’’ she said. “I wound up going to New York City in the 1950s and becoming a production assistant on the ‘Today Show.’ I booked acts, guests and performers and I loved it – absolutely loved it.’’

But by late 1963, she quit her job.

“The reason I stopped? I wanted to have a baby,’’ she said. “Maybe the stresses of the job were interfering, but in 1967 Elizabeth was finally born, my only child. And she was perfect, absolutely perfect.’’

And the inference seems to be Elizabeth trumped perfection even as she aged because she gave her mother two grandchildren, a boy and a girl.

“My grandchildren are just wonderful,’’ she said. “They call me Nana.’’

It was a name said lovingly, with as much respect as the most elevated, honorary title.

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