Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Just Say No

When grandparents come to stay many rules get thrown out the window. In general, we let the kids stay up later and eat a lot more candy, ice cream and other junk than usual. In return, it would be nice if a few things we do in our family were respected and given some consideration, but it often seems that they are not. I present the following note to grandparents.

If one is fully aware that noisy electronic toys with no creative value are not appreciated by parents -- even if the kids get a kick out of them for a day or two -- please don't waste your money, our sanity and our time buying them. The toys will be heading for Goodwill shortly after you leave, but I really don't like being the bad guy who has to figure out a reason why XYZ annoying toy has disappeared.

On that being the bad guy note, when you let the kid do something stupid like wrap something around its neck, don't throw the child back at the parent to do the dirty work of choking hazard removal just because that makes the kid scream and fuss. You let them almost choke themselves, you take care of it. Also and probably in the first place, when they ask for something that is clearly not good for them -- say no. Don't look helplessly at mom or dad to say no. You can do it. It won't hurt them.

Saying no is hard for a grandparent, I'm sure. If you are given a present though, that a child whines that he really wanted to keep as you are carrying it out the door -- again, say no. He hasn't actually seen it ever until the day before when it was given to you, he can't everything he wants and it was a *^#&#(*@@#&*! present for you.

And finally, my last and most pressing point. You've been here a lot of times. You know we do not check on the kids every time they roll over and whimper in their sleep. We don't open the door and make sure they aren't scared every time they mumble in the middle of the night. We've asked you not to do so either. Why is it that when we're here en familie the kids sleep all night long and wake up happy and smiling around 7:00, but surprisingly are up at 4:15 playing when you are here? Could it be that they aren't used to having the door open and shut a million times per night, nor being patted and cuddled when they aren't upset and are trying to sleep. Trust us. We tend to their needs. If they are scared, hurt, upset, sick or need us -- we get them, cuddle them, kiss them and take care of it. And when they are up at 4:15, it isn't our fault, so when the kids are cranky at 5:30 -- we really don't want to take care of it. We're used to sleeping until 7:00 and we're tired and cranky too. Is it really beneficial for a normally happy morning child to be into a full meltdown by 9:30 just because you "couldn't bear to hear them fuss at night"? Did that do them or anyone else any good? But you got to pack up and hit the road this morning, so you barely even know that they are miserable, unhappy and exhausted -- just what you can't stand while you are here.

I guess leaving a puddle of tears and thoughts that mom and dad are complete tyrants in your wake is okay, as long as you don't have to witness it.

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