At a recent Upper Arlington board of education meeting, a parent requested that the district make an exception and allow his daughter to enroll in kindergarten in the district despite the fact that he and his wife live in Hilliard.

At a recent Upper Arlington board of education meeting, a parent requested that the district make an exception and allow his daughter to enroll in kindergarten in the district despite the fact that he and his wife live in Hilliard.

The parent explained that because he and his wife both travel frequently for work, his daughter stays with his wife's parents in Upper Arlington most weekdays. The parent was accompanied by his mother-in-law, who spoke passionately about her concern that her granddaughter is more familiar with Upper Arlington than Hilliard, that most of her granddaughter's friends are in UA, and her transition to grade school would be smoother if she were to attend school where she spends most of her time.

As a journalist, it's important for me to maintain objectivity. But from personal experience, I can empathize with this family's situation.

My grandparents played a big role in my upbringing, since my single mother had a job when I was very young that required her to travel around the state. As the manager of a regional steak restaurant, she could be in Toledo one day, Cincinnati the next.

My mother had an arrangement with my grandparents that amounted to informal joint custody, which continued when my mother married my stepfather and became a stay-at-home mom just before I entered first grade.

I grew up calling my grandparents "Mom" and "Dad." It was as though I had two childhoods: as the oldest of four at my mother and stepfather's house, and as my grandparents' youngest child when I was in their care. The close bond with my grandparents and extended family has enriched my life beyond words.

Fortunately, school district enrollment was a non-issue when I was growing up since I attended parochial school. My grandparents were an integral part of my education, picking me up from school on Friday afternoons so I could spend weekends and school vacations at their house.

My mother and stepfather are carrying on my grandparents' generosity. Since my sister is a 9-1-1 operator, which requires her to work around the clock, my mother and stepfather have become built-in nannies for my 8-year-old niece and 1-year-old nephew.

With the demands of modern life, many parents have to work overtime or extra jobs to put gas in the tank and provide their children with basic necessities. Grandparents increasingly have to fill in the gaps for overworked parents.

There are 4.5 million children nationwide living in grandparent-headed households -- a 33 percent increase from 1990 to 2000, according to the 2005 U.S. Census. In Ohio, 157,298 children live with their grandparents.

It would be nice if Grandparents Day, which is celebrated the first Sunday after Labor Day and falls on Sept. 8 this year, got the same attention as Mother's Day and Father's Day. There are millions of grandparents who are making a difference in the lives of children and deserve recognition.

Chris

Bournea