Taylor Swift, My Granddaughter, and Me

As a long-distance grandmother of a 12-year-old girl, I’m starting to notice our connections are fraying. While she is busy making her new life with friends, I’m standing in the dust outside her room, missing our cozy bedtime stories and hugs. I know I shouldn’t kvetch. On the rare summer day that she is in town we still enjoy hanging at the beach or strolling to Jeni’s for an ice cream together. But I know which direction this gap is going in, and it makes me sad.

To buy more time before Piper goes full teenager, I decided to meet her on her own ground. I asked her to help me understand the one subject about which every pre-teen and teen girl is expert — pop music savant and Person-of-the-Year Taylor Swift. I asked her to help me “get it” so that I too could be swept up in a hysterical fad that looks like a lot of fun, if you don’t mind crying and fiddling with beaded bracelets. I requested an interview to lock in personal time with P, who is very busy.

To prepare, Piper suggested that I listen to the recent albums “Evermore,” “Folklore” and “Lover” — albums she thought I could “handle.” Swift’s music was easy to listen to. No matter the situation, Swift brings a sparkly light touch to all her subject matter. Essentially hers is the story of girlhood and I get it. I was a girl once.

Yearning to go haywire over the singer-songwriter, I dug deeper. I watched the TV documentary “Miss Americana,” saw the charming NPR Tiny Desk concert. I even convinced a friend to see the “Eras” concert film with me on a big screen. After two hours, we got it enough to bolt.

By the time I came to town for Hanukkah latkes and the interview, I knew my subject as well as any 73-year-old grandma could. Like other big female singers before her, Swift has broken up with her management, ditched bad boyfriends and set off on her own. Where she did something new was to rerecord six albums (and own the master recordings) and then sell them back to the same fans. Hers is the story of a beautiful suburban girl born with huge talent and supportive parents who writes and sings the stories of her life to great acclaim. All while seeming nice enough for a grandma to like.

It was delightful to sit in Piper’s room again and have some personal time together. Piper patiently explained her fandom. “Her [Swift’s] life and songs are inspirational.” When I asked what she thought of the whole Travis Kelce brouhaha, she shrugged. “I like them together,” she confessed. If it doesn’t work out? “She’ll keep on dating. Or maybe she’ll just stay single. I like where she is right now,” P declared.