Grandparenting Demystification

I sit here in reflection of my weekend and I recall an incident happening well over ten years ago involving my father, his daughter-in-law and the three grandchildren.

During a business trip hiatus where my brother was out of the house, arrangements were made between our parents and my brother’s family to spend some time at their house.

Prior to launching into this, it must be known that our father was, how shall I say this, not exactly the most flexible fellow in the world. I can now certainly understand some of his least savory and less filtered personality traits.

When our sister-in-law brought herself and her minivan loaded with kids to visit, after several hours my father felt his personal thing being strongly invaded. After a few twitches of this he effectively pointed his finger and advised daughter-in-law, minivan and grandkids to summarily and forthwith get thee hence. And so she did, never to return.

Not cool. But at least I now understand.

You see, my wife has had this habit of acquiescing to pretty much all of our eldest daughter’s requests and absolutely all of her demands.

When the kids need babysitting, my wife is all in. I am never consulted.

Every year our son-in-law’s company flies the sales team, of which he is a distinguished member, and their respective others to a cool location for a week long sales meeting. This year it’s Costa Rica. And although, our son-in-law’s all-but-useless mother chips in to baby sit during the week, it’s us that are required to do the heavy lifting.

And so we are saddled with two young lads currently aged nearly 5 and 3 respectively,

They are adorable and loving and intelligent. But they are also very young children and, therefore, demanding, self-centered, egocentric, easily slighted, and completely unreasonable. Being wholly oblivious to the demands of suburban decorum and décor, it takes these two tykes less than a few minutes to turn our house upside down and strew toys from fore to aft. Perhaps it’s our fault we have toys at all. On further reflection, better toys than my wife’s cutlery.

And so my weekend which is usually relegated to some chores, practicing, reading, writing, spending time with each other and friends was turned into a single concerted focused effort involving the assurance that Thing 1 and Thing 2 remain alive.

This means 100% dedication to their entertainment. Of course, no matter what you do, it’s never enough or never quite right. This one wants that DVD or that toy which, of course, runs directly contrary to the desires of the other. The ramifications are immediate, unrestrained, physical and loud. Always.

On the third day, my philosophical attitude was, to say the least, sorely tried. Oh yes. The fact that we have a very lively intelligent terrier that cannot distinguish between her toys and anyone else’s did not contribute to further my need towards at least the semblance of tranquility. Yes. There was one point where Zayde blew his cork. Epictetus would certainly not approve.

I cannot remember being so grateful for a Monday morning’s commute.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the livin’ bejeebus out of them. But I can take this only in certain doses and on my terms. Pre-determined hours with parents to step in. That’s the ticket. After all, the wee ones are not my charge.

And so I say to you, dear reader, enjoy your grandchildren. You will! But do not offer default blanket babysitting just because your kids say, ‘Aww Dad!”

We have this one friend of ours whose kids are Phish heads. They follow this group if they happen to be within a 750 mile radius. And they just assume that our friend will drop everything in order to oversee the well-being of her grandkids as sonny boy and his wife sit in artificially induced tranquility listening to these Dead wannabes. And despite her post incident tirades, she does, in fact just cave in and does the deed for any given weekend.

Enjoy. But hang tough.