Let me begin by saying, this is not anti-grandparent! How thankful am I that my daughter has wonderful grandparents, from both sides of the family? Let me count the ways. It was grandpa and grandma that allowed my spouse and I to escape for a much-needed “date night” three weeks after our daughter’s birthday while we were home for the Christmas holiday. Of course, that date night turned into a fifteen dollar trip to the movie theater for a rather expensive nap. I can’t be mad with my daughter’s grandparents. They have each played and will continue to play a significant role in the life of our daughter. I assume that you feel the same as a parent, or should I say, I hope that you do. I’ve heard the horror stories.
I must, however, acknowledge this– grandparents are good for many things, but are exceptional at one thing– spoiling. It is life’s built- in revenge factor. We put our parents through hell growing up, so they will make sure that our journey is not far outside of theirs. Give the kids sweets, drop them off at night, and then go home and have a good night’s sleep while mom and dad are up with Hyper McHypersin. No rest for the wicked I suppose. In honor of the greatest spoiling feats that I have witnessed, and out of nothing but the deepest love and respect for the grandparents in my daughter’s life, I present the top five things I’ll never forgive Grandma and Grandpa for, in no specific order:
1. Pink. My spouse and I were hoping to raise our daughter in an environment free of gender stereotypes –one of which was pink for girls. Not that we were going to be “pink free” but we desired to make sure that our daughter had options, and if pink was her choice, it was her choice and not the gendered nature of her childhood. Step in Grandma. I must say, it was in good humor that my daughter received her first pair of leopard print, bright pink tights, but that was as they say, all she wrote!
2. American Girl. Cults are not dead. They are indeed thriving on Michigan Avenue in Downtown Chicago. Exhibit A –The American Girl Store. My daughter is now a fan. Thank you, again, to Grandma (and a specific set of Aunt and Uncle –you know who you are).
3. Catfish. One of my daughter’s greatest joys is helping grandpa feed the catfish in his pond. And not simply to feed them, but watch them as they slowly gulp in the food. “Cat”fish is not the right way to describe these water dwellers. I’d say “Horse” fish. They are enormous. However, I can no longer enter a grocery store with my daughter without heading to the seafood section to see the fish or the lobsters in the tank. “Daddy, can we see the fish?” “Not today dear,” I reply, “we only need to pick up a box of cereal on the other side of the store. Let’s just get in and out.” “But, daddy, grandpa shows me the fish. I love the catfish.”
4. The Extra Dessert. Both sides of the grandparents are especially stealthy at this move.
Grandma: “Ready for a piece of cake?”
Daughter: “Yes, please. YUMMY!”
Mom or Dad: “Small piece for her she needs to get to bed at a reasonable time.”
Grandma: “Oh, that’s an old wives tale. Here sweetie,” — sharing a cake slice the size of a Yugo.
Daughter: “Awesome. Thanks. Sugar, sugar, sugar.” Looks at mom and dad and in her most terrifying voice, “Now you’re mine. Your reckoning is coming.”
So some of that conversation was exaggerated. Can you tell which part? You’re right, the cake slice was the size of a stretch limo, not a Yugo. Actually, the most adept of grandparents, which my daughter has, are actually a bit more sneaky. The extra dessert is disguised as a later afternoon snack, before dinner. Well done grandma, well done.
5. Attentiveness. Let me say off the bat, this is terribly selfish and I admit it. Grandparents providing attentiveness is so necessary — equally so from parents. But let’s admit our shortcomings as parents, life sometimes is life, and don’t we want to sometimes put our head back on the couch for five minutes and catch a cat nap while our dearest(s) are watching a little Curious George? However, they know. How do they know? Grandparents. The world revolves around grandchildren and they know. For parents, we can’t win. Of course, our worlds revolve heavily around our children, but we must also be with them greater periods of time — in the night, during fatigue, during the “WITCHING HOUR” which is right before bed. The funny thing is, and where I think the trick is on us is, grandparents know too! What did I say at the beginning? The great equalizer, my friend. A little payback from parents to children, or life’s built-in revenge. The recourse I have is I know my daughter’s time will come, one day, and I’ll be waiting. With an American Girl charge card and a giant slice of cake. Game on!
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