I love my grandkids. Adore them even. They’re the cutest, smartest, talented, most amazing kids I’ve ever known. I love them to the moon and back a zillion times. I’m certain most grandparents share the same sentiments about their own grandkids. But I wonder how many are brave enough to admit, although we love them with our entire being, we don’t always like them?
I’m not talking about the grandparents who live a good distance from the little ones. Those grandparents have an excuse for the longing to hold and cuddle and see a snaggle-toothed smile. I’m talking about the ones, like me, who see the little ones on a daily basis. You grow intimately aware of their little quirks. And sometimes, it pains me to say, those little quirks can be downright painful. Annoying. Irritating. Fingernails on a chalkboard.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. It was supposed to resemble a Hallmark commercial or a Rockwell painting. All the little grandchildren gathered at Grandma’s feet while she reads The Night Before Christmas to them from her rocking chair. Their upturned gazes are loving; their smiles content as Grandma reads the story while, simultaneously, lovingly showing the pictures.
Well, the reality is:
It’s hard to read upside down. And when you’re reading to as many different ages as I have to, one of them, if not two, will call you down if you miss a word or skip over a part because it’s impossible to read it from a weird angle. Once they start reading on their own, forget making up the story as you go.
The toddlers have the attention span of gnats. So they’re up and down, up and down, wanting to touch the picture, wandering off, wanting to turn the page before you’re finished with the current page (and remember, the ones who can read call you down if you skip a sentence, or page)
They don’t always get along. Like a lot of the time. Forget holding hands and singing Kumbaya. It’s more like pleading “can’t y’all just get along for a minute?” The siblings fight with the siblings. The cousins fight with the cousins. They get huffy. Feelings get hurt. One or two, or three, will start crying and sometimes it gets physical. The good thing about that is my grandkids will know how to defend themselves. They don’t shy away from a fight.
They can screech at ear-damaging decibels. You know those monkeys in zoos? The ones that scream at you with such intensity it can stop your heart? They have nothing on my grandkids. They know not the meaning of “indoor voice.” Five of my nine are Scorpios. They have to have the last word. The screeching can go on until my eye starts twitching.
They don’t like the same food. Which makes lunch time a hit-n-miss. Paisley likes jelly, no peanut butter. Ivy wants cereal five times a day. We have to hide the bananas from Ireland (tummy reasons) or we experience the ear-shattering screeches – see above. Aiden doesn’t like Cheez-its. He likes fruit snacks. But Ivy likes the brand of fruit snacks Aiden has so she doesn’t want hers, she wants his. Back to the screeching. Casey likes to dump whatever is in his bowl (cereal, spaghetti, etc) on his head and wear the empty bowl as a hat. And then look at you as if he’s saying “What? You’re not supposed to wear it on your head?”
497 Barbies and they all want the same one. Back to the screeching. I do believe even if we had 497 of the same Barbie, they’d fight over it. Suck it up. And consider investing in a good set of earplugs.
They don’t always like one another… but, they do always love one another. They defend one another (when they’re not fighting), they cry to see one another (they love spending the night with one another), and they put their arms around one another when one needs a hug.
All in all, I guess the reality isn’t all that bad. It’s not bad at all.