"This is one of those great opportunities for kids who confuse discomfort with pain, or irritation with suffering, to grow hardier and more flexible," says clinical psychologist Wendy Mogel, author of "The Blessing of a Skinned Knee."
She says she loves this new husband, sight unseen, for the lessons he can teach. Among them:
Grandma gets to be happy. "Respecting him respects her," Mogel says. "Asking her to come without him and pointing out his flaws insults her and creates another layer, in addition to all the ones kids already have, of entitlement and me-first-ness."
Go along to get along. "The particular qualities he exhibits may be the same ones their first boss has one day," she says. "Whatever it is that feels culturally different or spiritually different from what the family is accustomed to is a great opportunity for your child to get ready for a college roommate, or for the teacher in high school who they think doesn't like them or pronounces words funny or is boring or talks too loud."
First impressions aren't everything. "How many of us have a friend in adult life who we didn't like when we first met them? ... They may or may not come to see his virtues, but that's an added bonus if they end up liking him."
It's important, Mogel says, to keep your response simple when the kids start voicing displeasure at the anticipation of a visit.
"Keep it about Grandma," Mogel says. "'I'm so happy she's not by herself and that she has companionship. She has someone to look after her and for her to look after. All people want that and need that.'"
CHICAGO TRIBUNEMake an aluminum-foil river
Create your own tiny stream with a roll of aluminum foil, then let it play host to a jar cap boat regatta. After you're done playing with the stream, it can be retired to the recycling bin.
Find a spot outside that's fairly flat and can be reached by your garden hose. Lay out a length of heavy-duty aluminum foil and position it to direct the water to a thirsty part of your yard. For the banks of the river, fold up the long edges. Place the hose nozzle on the uphill end of the foil and turn the water on at a trickle.
To make a jar-cap boat, press a ball of clay into the bottom of a cap. Tape a paper sail to a toothpick, and insert it into the clay.