For the past few weeks, we were in the middle of a move, which is no picnic under the best circumstances and just about impossible with a toddler underfoot. So, in order to get everything done, we shipped the kid to his grandparents.
It worked out well; we were able to pack up and relocate a lot more quickly, and no miniature humans were injured in the process. We even got to go to dinner once or twice without needing to wrangle a psycho into a highchair.
Little did we know that while we were taking care of business, our son was being brainwashed.
Grandparents are great. In fact, they are pretty indispensable. But they’re also dangerous.
My wife and don’t live close enough to our families to reap many of the benefits, primarily the free babysitting, that many of our friends take advantage of. No joke: if you have consistent access to free babysitting, you are the 1%. (Don’t be surprised if babysitting one day serves as the basis for our entire economy.)
But grandparents aren’t all Gerber candies and cardigans. When your kid gets in their mitts, your priorities go out the window. They have their own agenda; they spoil, they dote, they indulge. They corrupt.
Worst of all, they undermine.
If you’re not careful, the same parents that made your life a living hell in high school (not my parents, my parents were amazing, but yours really needed to ease up) will slowly turn your well-behaved child into a nightmare of entitlement and expectation.
After just a few nights with his Grandma and Pop-pop, my little angel expects Jell-O with every meal and is watching “Yo Gabba Gabba” anytime he gets a little grouchy.
Eating habits you’ve been struggling to teach are obliterated in a flurry of ice cream, hot dogs and pudding. Months of well-honed “ignore the tantrum” tactics are undone by the doting, always-open arms of Nana. A firm reluctance to add to the toy-based clutter of the family room is erased as gift after gift is bestowed upon the golden child.
The worst part? Once he gets back home and out of the clutches of the deceptively benign-looking senior citizens you call your parents, he wakes up in the middle of the night and calls for them instead of you. It’s kind of heartbreaking.
But there’s a flip-side to that coin, should you choose to take advantage of it. The next time you’re in Grandma’s vicinity, that’s when you should actually let Grandma get the kid when he cries. It’s all fun and games until the two-year-old wants to roughhouse all over your arthritis.
Don’t get me wrong, having family around is great. Just having the ability to go out to lunch – without having to pay sixty bucks for the privilege – is nothing short of liberating.
But while we’re luxuriating in the few moments of freedom grandparents afford us, my son is luxuriating in the freedom grandparents afford him. He’s old enough to know when he’s in control, and when he’s at Grandma and Pop-pop’s, he’s in total control.
Don’t think for a second that Grandma and Pop-pop don’t know it too.
For your parents, grandkids are nothing but gravy. They’ve already raised their kids and they have little interest in weathering that storm again; they just want the sunshine.
Unfortunately for Mom and Dad, sometimes that means catching a little sunburn. Especially when Grandma and Grandpa don’t bother to apply the kid’s sunscreen!