My very active mom has an instant rapport with children of all ages. She knows exactly how to relate to them on their developmental level, whatever that may be.

Even in her 80s, she will still sit on the floor and play whatever creative game a child can imagine. My dad is equally spry.

When my daughter was about 4, she was trying hard to figure out the difference between children and adults. She didn’t seem to get the definitions of “younger” and “older.”

To help her understand, I tried using our extended family as examples: cousins, aunts and uncles, family friends and grandparents. I wanted her to figure it out for herself, so instead of telling her who was an adult and who was a child, I asked her questions.

“What do you think cousin Sara is?” She considered. “A teenager.”

“Right! And Aunt Nancy?” More confidently, “A grown-up.”

“Yes. How about your cousin Ronnie?” She quickly answered, “A kid.”

“Correct. What about me?” Immediately, “A grown-up.”

Now she was really getting the hang of it.

Then I asked, “How about Grandmom?” After a long, considering pause, she hesitantly responded, “A ... teenager?”

Amy Alapati,


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