"Children are not our creations, but our guests." -- John Updike
Rearing children is, at very least, never a boring experience. Then, just about the time you figure out how to be a daddy, they are grown and gone with children of their own.
Nowadays, we are always in the market for grandchildren, even great-grandchildren -- preferably housebroken. Grandkidlets are perfect on a number of fronts.
First, foremost, and most satisfying -- Payback! We've lived long enough now to have grandchildren who have endured the teen years, and have made our eldest a grandfather himself. It is one of the funniest things in the world to hear our children complain about all the problems they face with their kids. This is definitely Payback time for what we went through.
Also, there is the immortal "sugar factor." It is probably a federal law, maybe even in the Bible, that grandparents are supposed to fill them with sugar, get them really hyped-up, then send them back to their parents (ideally in no more than four-hour intervals). This not only fulfills a granddaddy's sacrosanct duty and makes grandkids want to come back, it adds to Payback!
And, the best thing about being grandparents -- you are as glad to see them come as you are to see them go! If you've not experienced this, your best grand-parenting days are ahead.
Last week, however, we had to forego all the finer points of being grandparents because we had one of the little curmudgeons for the whole week.
Piper is "active" (i.e., busybody), "alert" (i.e., into EVERYTHING), and astute (i.e., takes after her granddaddy). She is also surprisingly knowledgeable, knowing just about everything. This is understandable, though, she is a genuine Kindergarten graduate (picture, diploma, ceremony, the whole bit).
It took a day or two to remember how to keep up with a 5-year-old who wasn't going back to mommy in four hours. Piper pulled out, went through, and tired of all the "grandma toys" we keep. This took the first five minutes. Grandma took her to the library, Craig Park, shopping for girlie things, and home to read her six books five times each. Then, suddenly, it was Tuesday. All Kay had to do then was figured out what to do for the next four days.
Had cousins to play with a couple of times (not at all sure whether this relieved or exasperated). Mercifully, Piper discovered neighborhood kids we didn't know existed, introducing us to neighbors we didn't know we had.
But, mostly it was up to grandmother to keep entertained an active, alert, astute 5-year-old. Granddaddies, it must be pointed out, are good for hugs and stuff, but are otherwise useless. By Friday, grandma had pretty much shot all her bullets, and relief troops were greeted with unsurpassed gratitude. Let aunt Lori and uncle Nathan have Piper for a while.
Now her week with grandma and granddaddy is over. We dutifully pumped her full of sugar and sent her packing. Glad to see her go, sorry to see her go. Our familiar and faithful friend, Silence, has returned.
This week "we" again have our regular out-of-school, mommy-works three grandkids to watch over. We promise to pump them full of sugar and send them back at the end of each day. Silence is such a boring guest.
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.