When we moved here, we noticed many of our neighbors have their parents watch their kids from time to time.
No, not my children’s grandparents.
To be fair, they rarely have the chance. My mother and stepfather were in town over the long Fourth of July weekend but I can count on one hand the number of times they see my son and daughter each year. It’s just one consequence of a 1,000 mile barrier.
So, you would think they would jump at the chance to spend some one-on-one quality time with their grandson.
No, not really.
The first couple of days seemed to go well, but on the Fourth of July the boy had a fairly sizable temper tantrum while we were getting ready to head out to the parade. He was impatient and just wanted to go, now! There was growling, screaming from him and me, some hitting and kicking. For all I know there may have even been some spitting. It happened again later on before fireworks.
Are we happy he has these tantrums from time to time? Of course not. Gifted does not always equal good. However, he only does this around us and it’s never been an issue at school or anywhere else. We send him upstairs to his room for 20 minutes, 30 minutes, whatever he needs to cool down. Besides, it was the Fourth of July so part of it was he was overexcited to go to fireworks and a parade. After all, the kid is a newly-minted 7 year old, much closer to 6 than to 8.
After that happened, for the most part my parents gave him the cold shoulder even though his behavior was much better. My son would ask, “Do you want to play Full Count baseball?” “Do you want to go mini-golfing?” “Do you want to go bowling?” Each time the answer from my stepfather was no. They didn’t talk to him at all at Wrigley Field on Sunday and even separated themselves from us, taking up a few empty seats down the row. That was unfortunate, because the kid was in baseball heaven. Pure joy beamed from his face.
Monday morning came and along with it my daughter’s weekly speech appointment. Since school ended for the summer I have been taking him with me. While he does sit quietly, he is a distraction for her so my preference is to keep him at home for the 45 minute session. I was hoping the grandparents would help me out here.
I asked my mother if I could leave him with them.
“No.” she answered.
“But mom, I will be gone maybe an hour and he will just watch TV or play in his room the whole time.” I pleaded.
“No. I refuse to discipline him and your stepfather does not want to watch him because of his behavior.” she told me sternly.
My mother continued, “Besides, I want to take a shower and I need over an hour for that.”
Let me get this straight, in the matchup of 7-year old grandson vs. shower, the shower wins?
So very disappointing. Perhaps the worst part was my son was in the room and heard everything.
Look, I completely understand that grandparents do not have any obligation to watch their grandchildren. My mother made her been-there-done-that attitude very clear to me with her “I don’t do diapers” quote to me before my son was born. Still, my stepfather was up for it, or at least I thought he was.
I suppose it wouldn’t have bothered me so much, except three weeks ago they flew down South to my sister’s house to watch my nieces so she could go to London with her husband for a few days. They are 5 and 1, so plenty of diaper changes. And a 5-year old needs to be watched and yes, disciplined. What if my niece had a tantrum similar to the one my son had?
I really wish they could see the good as well as the bad with my son. Is he perfect? Of course not, no kid is. We’re not perfect parents either. Even though he is not a baby anymore, we are still first time parents; it’s just that he is 7 now. Are we dealing with his temper the right way? I have no idea.
But when they turn away, they miss out on how he gave his almost 3-year sister the courage to climb up the tunnel at the playground for the first time yesterday. “C”mon, you can do it, just a little bit more, you can hold my hand.” he said to her. And she did it. Sure they fight, but he is also her greatest supporter and her best friend.
They miss out on how he noticed last night’s sunset, how he told me how beautiful it was. They missed out on his cuddles on the couch watching the Cubs double-header, his excitement growing with each run scored. They missed out on hearing about his 13 team imaginary hockey league and the games he makes up every night. Last night it was the Ninjas vs. the Asteroids. Ninjas won 6-0.
He generally does what he needs to without being reminded, like washing his hands before meals and cleaning up. Sometimes he lashes out because I ask him to do something he already did.
He really is a good kid. I just wish I didn’t need to convince his own grandparents.
What do you think? Parents: do you rely on help from grandparents or do they say no? Grandparents: do you watch your own grandchildren or are those days over? Please share with a comment!
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