My in-laws are here.
In most bad sitcoms and over-baked comedy films, that line would be a cue for the music from Jaws. I’ll admit, we’ve had periods of tense visits in the past, with the typical extended family inability to figure out what to do with one another. Lately, however, we’ve all come to find our places together. When they are here, my place is out running, as I take advantage of the other adult hands to go hit the trails.
Grandpa’s place, on the other hand, is on the living room floor, preferably tied up with string, covered with a blanket, and pinned down by at least one child. He is an alien, and my boys won’t put up with an alien in their living room. They rope him. Then they remove his spikes, poke out his eyeballs, and take him to the zoo. For the big alien exhibit, I guess.
Not that there has been all that much time to play alien, what with the boys’ first ice-skating adventure and the trip to Chuck E Cheese’s, a venue so vile that I adamantly refuse to set foot into it. I have tried to convince my children that it is a place best suited to trips with their grandparents. This week, not only did they take both boys to the home of the giant, pizza-eating rat, but they took Zach’s friend from across the street, as well. Earning them the title of The Bravest Grandparents in North America.
Tonight, we went out for Chinese food, a fine Jewish tradition on Christmas. It is not easy to take my kids out to a Chinese restaurant. True, Benjamin will eat almost anything, as he has won the Least Discerning Palate Award the last two years running. He loves Chinese food, but he also loves to eat lemons and lentils and tofu, bless his little heart. If it can’t run away from him, he’s likely to eat it. Lilah will also eat anything, whereupon she usually breaks out into hives. And what does Zach eat in a Chinese restaurant? Those nasty fried noodles they serve with the soup. Sometimes, it astonishes me that he hasn’t keeled over from malnutrition.
Zachary insisted he needed one of those little plastic swords that come in the fancy drinks, and Grandpa gamely trotted over to the bar to get one. That kept the child happy for the rest of the evening. Until we got home, he tripped, and it broke on the kitchen floor.
J and I respond to such crises with the ever-so-sympathetic response of, “Well, these things happen.” Strangely, that did not comfort my five-year-old. “I can try to glue it together tonight,” J offered.
Then, Grandma came over. “Peanut,” she said. “Would you like me to go back and get another one for you?” He stopped wailing and turned to nod at her. So, damned if the woman didn’t start fishing out her car keys. As she was headed to the door, Zach ran after her and hugged her legs. By the time Zach got out of the bath, there was a pile of little plastic swords waiting for him.
So, there you have it. Parenting may be about setting limits, providing guidelines, or wearing a baby on a sling. Five years into this gig, I’m still not sure what exactly makes a good parent. But, I am pretty damned sure what makes a good grandparent.
Aliens and little plastic swords.