Lessons from Camp Ooga Booga

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Kenzie and Livi, two of my granddaughters,  have been with  Melissa and me in Richmond for almost a week.

We call this visit Camp Ooga Booga and our “campers” and their “counselors” have all had a ball! From a couple of great days canoeing and swimming on the James River to fireworks on Brown’s Island, we have had non-stop fun together.

Have I said how much we love these girls?

Kenzie and Livi have also learned a lot about about being great caregivers for their great grandmother, my mom, Helen.

Here are the five things they have learned and practiced:

  1. Talk s…l…o…w and one at a time.
  2. Look directly at Helen, get close to her and say your name every time.
  3. Play with Helen a lot.
  4. Give Helen lots of love.
  5. Stick with Helen.

The girls have memorized their lessons and have practiced with mom every chance they can get. It has really been fun to watch them in action and see how mom responds. It has been a positive experience for the “campers” as well as for their great grandmother.

That is with one exception.

Kenzie and Livi called a special secret Ooga Booga meeting with Melissa and me to complain that mom doesn’t follow the rules. “Helen doesn’t like to share her puzzles, baby doll and other things she plays with.”

When the girls try to play with them, mom grabs them back, holds them close to her and says, “That’s mine, you can’t have it!”

“Yeah, and she takes our toys, too,” Kenzie adds.

There was heavy duty tension in the air at Camp Oooga Booga!

I asked them what they thought they should do.

They both answered, “Nothing! Nothing we try works,” they said.

Kenzie added, “Helen is bigger than us!”

Then Livi had an idea.

Karate Kids“I know … we should do … Kung Fu!”

Kung Fu?! I didn’t have the heart to tell the Karate Kids that mom is pretty fast on her feet for a 91 year old, but hey, why not give it a shot.

Mom does need to relearn how to share.

About Tom Laughon

Tom Laughon (Pronounced Lawn) is President of Catch Your Limit, an organization whose sole purpose is to guide and grow leaders. His journey from lead singer in a rock-n-roll band, to a successful career in marketing & advertising to consultant, strategist, keynote speaker, facilitator, professor and writer is a fascinating one. Headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, Tom and his team guide organizations, from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies to national associations, to "catch their limit" in areas such as leadership development, creativity, innovation, teaming and transformational change. His commitment to "practice what he preaches" has made Catch Your Limit a petri dish for round-the-clock discovery and learning. The firm's brand reflects Tom's personal brand: Fun, Inspirational, Strategic & Hot!

46 responses »

  1. Such a beautiful post — the girls will love looking back on these memories down the road…

    Thank you for sharing!

    🙂

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  2. I love this for so many reasons: the lesson of love and acceptance you are giving your grandchildren, bringing your mom a reason to be fiery, and the break you are giving to one of your children 🙂
    Beautiful.

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  3. What a wonderful blog! I’m really impressed — and I think I love Helen now, too! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed…

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  4. So cool to have your grandaughters getting to know your mother and learning the importance of caring for others; especially the elderly. What a gift. : )

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  5. Wonderful blog post! Your grandchildren are blessed to be able to share this time with their great grandmother. They will remember these times forever even though they don’t completely understand right now.

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  6. I love the rules! They’re a great guideline for any children dealing with a much older person. My grandmother was not as responsive when she was that old. My daughter go to know her because we went to visit anyhow, but I wish she could have known a person who could talk and communicate back to you.

    Nancy
    http://www.dogear6.com

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  7. How sweet. I still have problems with the talking slow part, guess it’s best to learn early. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

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  8. Fabulous. Loved reading this. Thanks for posting!

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  9. Great Post. I loved spending time with my grandmothers growing up – one was the complete opposite of the other one, so the best of both worlds. Congrats on being FP!

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  10. Great post! The rules are hilarious! It sounds like there are valuable lessons to be learned all around. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    http://appandrew.wordpress.com

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  11. Velocity in my mind

    Simply adorable story. I love the idea of Kung Fu. This post made me laugh and want to get to know your family. I loved it.

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  12. Oh my gosh–they are just the cutest! And learning to be a caretaker at that age is a huge accomplishment! It’s best to learn the important lessons while you’re young and can easily soak everything in. PS congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

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  13. I love your blog. Life in all its stages, has its challenges and rewards. A boo-ti-ful tribute to your mother, is her caring, awesome son. My parents and my in-laws- are all gone. Those days of this kind of service are behind me, however, I see shadows of me in your mother and sister, and only hope that when my time comes to be truly infantile once again, that one of my sons will love me as much as you obviously do yours. God Bless you, Tom.

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  14. Oh, wow! Do you think Helen might adopt me? My 95 year old Mom left us for the other side when she was 95 a couple of years ago, and I miss her so much.
    In the event that Helen refuses to adopt me, I’d like to enroll for Camp
    Ooga Booga next summer please. Tell Kenzie and Livi I promise to share.

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  15. Hahaha, too cute! Your grand-daughters are adorable!

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  16. Great story, thank!

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  17. I love the idea of your blog! I just lost my 97 year-old grandmother 2 weeks ago. I wrote about it here on my blog. http://lifewellblended.wordpress.com/2011/07/11/lunchtime-stories-an-epilogue/
    For the last several months I had the opportunity to help in taking care of my grandmother. Although I didn’t always realize it, I think it was truly a blessing. I learned so much, about myself and about her, just speding time with her, having lunch, or going for a drive. Congratulations on being freshly pressed, and being such a wonderful son and grandfather.

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  18. Haha, that is a great story 🙂 Thanks for sharing !

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  19. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed. One of my jobs is elder home health care. It is so important to me to see elders in their own homes, keeping their dignity, honor and lifestyle alive. My days are so enriched when my clients and I can laugh and share with each other. Here’s to more summer memories.

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  20. Hello. Loved your post. It reminded me of the time I spent with my grandmother while growing up. Both my grandparents stayed with us & it used to be so much fun & we learned a lot from them. Cherished memories :)..Congratulations on being freshly pressed.

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  21. This post totally made me smile. After a long day of work, I came home, read this and was reminded of what life is about. Thanks for that. Plus… I want a Camp Ooga Booga one day 🙂

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  22. Very nice tribute to your Mom. My parents are still with us and my 89 year old Father in law (lost my mother in law last Dec. 23rd at the age of 91). My time to face this is coming fast.

    Congrats on being freshly pressed!

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  23. Your granddaughters are so lucky, not only they have you to share the fun with they also have their great grandmother. They are building memories, that will last forever.

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  24. Hi Tom,

    This is a really beautiful post. I smiled the entire time I was reading it.

    My grandmother passed away a year and a half ago. She was 89. She had been diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

    I have so many wonderful memories of her, but my favorite ones involve my 2 boys. When they were little, they couldn’t quite say “great grandmama” without stumbling all over it, so they called her “Great Mama”. This name fit her perfectly as that is exactly what she was.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, and your mom, with us.

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

    Blessings,
    Renee Rowell

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  25. What a wonderful post! My grandmother is 91 also, and I will be spending this weekend with her.

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  26. This post was absolutely precious. The relationship between grandparents asnd kids is always to be cherished. My grandma was in the hospital this past weekend, and I spent the entire time by her bedside and she is back at home now with us. 🙂
    Keep your kids close, and your grandkids closer!
    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed. 🙂

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  27. That sounds like a fun “camp”. Talk slow and one word at a time is the good foundation of bullet speed conversations 🙂

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  28. Glad that there are some awesome grandmas like mine around.
    Duncantheking.wordpress.com

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  29. Love this and love that you’re teaching the girls the rules of good caregiving. What a valuable thing to give to children!

    Two thumbs up for you!

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  30. absolutely beautiful! Thank you for sharing. I’ve learned that “your Time” is the greatest gift you could give someone because it makes for a lifetime of wonderful memories!!!! you possess the greatest gifts of all.

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  31. Loved this post! Thx for sharing and congrats on FP!

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  32. It’s very special for a great grandmother to be able to be a part of the life of her great-grandchildren.

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  33. 91years old,she’s so beautiful.I’m a Chinese,the word “Kung Fu”,a little interesting.haha

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  34. Really good lesson! I’d like to share it with some of my young brothers.

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  35. Thanks for sharing your story. I think it’s great that kids learn that the world is not all about them. There are others to care for, learn about and to share with. I can see and feel the love woven among your words for Helen and the girls. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

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  36. Enjoyed your post, and there is a lot we can learn from across the generations.

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  37. Thanks for sharing. Is very good and very interesting.

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  38. Thank you for sharing content.

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  39. Circle of life.

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    • Judy (aka Grandmomjudy)

      Just wanted to let you know the three words you used in your comment inspired my “By Turning, Turning It Comes ‘Round Right” post. Thanks!

      I enjoyed exploring your blog @ gmomj.wordpress.com I encourage others to do the same!

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  40. realanonymousgirl2011

    Aww what a sweet post!

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  41. I always find good info from your articles.

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  42. Pingback: Ooga Booga Boogie | My 91 Year Old Mom

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