We have had our oldest grandchild, Keyna, with us this weekend. Keyna is 3, old enough to begin to know right from wrong, and be able to communicate her wishes and million questions. Keyna has a little sister Ariel, age 13 months, who also spent some time with us yesterday. while Mommy (our daughter Beth) and Daddy (our son-in-law Tom) went out to lunch together. Keyna and Ariel are expecting a baby brother, Tommy, sometime in late May.
As we have been with Keyna and Ariel and interacted with them over the last few years, we have noticed some definite differences between being someone’s parent and being their grandparent. And frankly, as the old saying goes, if we had known being grandparents was so much, we would have gone straight to it, and skipped the parent thing!
Parenting is diapers, duty, daily grind, consistent discipline and sometimes drudgery. The day-to-day, especially with 2 (soon 3!) children under 4 can be tough. And there is
always the knowledge you are putting in foundations for their whole lives. There are, of course, moments of pure joy, like when a toddler overcomes her fears of something long enough to find she likes it, as Keyna did last summer with the slides at the park Or moments when the kids are quiet, playing together cooperatively and not fighting. Or when you find a child, cuddled up to her bear, looking at a book you have read and reread to her, and she is looking at the oh-so-familiar pictures and “reading” it to the stuffed animal. It’s moments like these that make parenting the best job on earth.
On the other hand, grand parenting is usually a ball! Of course, when they are in your care, you have to exercise discipline and control, and sometimes rules at your house might be different than at home. There also will be home rules you reinforce, just to keep consistency. But the rest of the time is pure fun time!
We took Keyna grocery shopping with us on both Saturday and Sunday. She got to eat at any sample booth she wanted, even the one with cheesecake. We had to go both days, because we bought strawberries on Saturday, but did not get enough to feed her appetite for them, her favorite food (mine, too) and our favorite bribery tool! That tiny 1 pound of berries was just not enough, so we had to get more the next day. I bought some raisins and mixed nuts to make a snack mix for me, and of course as I mixed it, Keyna had to
sample every color of raisin (there were 3) and every kind of nut . . .
Grandparents bend the rules. At church, instead of taking her to the nursery, we asked if she could be good in the service if her favorite bear came. She said she could, and while she didn’t sit like a miniature adult (and we had realistically not expected it of her), Keyna was quiet and well-behaved through the entire 2 hour service.
Kids get lots from grandparents they don’t get from their parents. Like bears, as in the one I wrote about before. (Check my archives.) Grandparents often have time and energy to do things parents can’t. Take today, for instance. Keyna walked in on me when I was using the bathroom. (We have to work more on privacy!) She noticed my belly button, and asked me what it was. I told her. She asked if she had one, and I said yes. The questions of everyone in her life having one followed, and I was able to say yes, everyone does, even the cats on her list, somewhere under their fur. She left, and I finished, going to my bedroom to do some chores there.
A few minutes later, Keyna walked in,carrying her bears that had come with her for the weekend. “Do my bears have belly buttons?” she asked. No, they were not born, they were made. Keyna was so sad, I asked if she wanted me to give her bears belly buttons. She said yes, so instead of doing my chores, I spent the next 45 minutes embroidering belly buttons on 2 stuffed bears. Because that is what grandparents do. Grandparents get to do the fun stuff.