Becoming a grandparent apparently makes you lose you damn mind

Aug 16 2012 Published by under [Et Al], [Life Trajectories]

Parenting is an odd thing. You spend a lot of your time trying to do your best, surviving when your best isn't good enough and generally trying not to fuck your kids up. There's millions of books on the topic if you care to read them, but in the end you default to emulating what you think are the best parts of what you know from growing up, fused with what you think are improvements to your upbringing. It's wonderful, infuriating, thrilling and miserable all at the same time. Above all, it gives you a new respect for your parents.

Armed with this new respect, you assume that you can hand your kids off to your parents and, with their honed parental instincts that produced the amazing person that you are, they will deliver your child back unto you in at least the same condition they were when they departed.

But that's not what happens. At all.

What's they very first thing your parents do when they get ahold of your children? Let the children decide everything. It's like those years between their own last child leaving the house and the arrival of grandchildren has wiped every ounce of parenting common sense out of their system. Suddenly the inmates are running the asylum.

My mother is very into health. She's been eating organic foods since before you could find them in regular stores. I can recall the week she decided that she was getting rid of all the non-organic stuff in the house, which has remained that way ever since. Based on this, one would assume that she would feed her grandchildren in a similar way that she fed her own family for decades.

Instead, my mother has introduced the following items to my kids:

McDonald's (a place she hadn't been in >20 years)
hot dogs
Chocolate ice cream for breakfast
Cheetos (quite possibly the antithesis of her diet)
And probably a dozen more things I haven't heard about

It's not that I mind that the kids eat these things - it is only that we don't usually eat these things ourselves that prevents the kids from being served them - but the fact that my mother was the vehicle of delivery for these foods absolutely floors me. I'm willing to bet that she had to look up where the nearest McDonald's to their house was.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. When I mentioned to my father on the phone some of the issues we were having with the Wee One recently, he said "Hmm, she doesn't push against the rules at our house." It wasn't until I pointed out that you can't push against something that isn't there, that he laughed and agreed. Bed time? whatevs! Naps? Who needs them? Don't want to brush your teeth? Those teeth are gonna fall out anyway!

I get it, it's not fun to enforce rules with kids and grandparents want to spend all of their grandkid time having fun. They want the grandkids to beg to go back and in the end they don't have to deal with the repercussions of utterly exhausted children returned home. They can drive away just as their parents did after dropping my exhausted sibling and I off after a few days of sugar fueled madness.

And I'm sure they chuckle all the way home.

29 responses so far

  • Joshua King says:

    This may be your best post ever.

  • anon says:

    They sound like awesome grandparents!!!

  • katiesci says:

    My dad used to give my son sips of his coffee and whole cans of soda when he was 2-3 yo.

  • Natalie says:

    The only place I ate FrootLoops was at my grandmother's house. In tiny little kid sized boxes. It was the best.

  • proflikesubstance says:

    Oh, I agree. My grandparents used to buy us anything shitty food we wanted at the grocery store. It was the BEST!

  • Dr24hours says:

    Everytime I read something like this, it makes me regret not being a parent less.

  • becca says:

    What are you talking about "loose your damn mind"??? This is the WHOLE POINT. This is the LIGHT and the end of my crazy-making bedtime-sobbing tantrums galore oh-shit-what-have-I-done existential crisis tunnel that is my whole life now.

    I hate being a parent. Hate it. Every second of every day. I'm just counting the days till I can be a grandma, and eat ice cream with cinnamon toast crunch in our PJs for breakfast EVERY DAY!!!!!

  • Hah. My in-laws are like this, but my parents understand that We Have Boundaries Here, Dammit. But with extra grandparent ice cream. I'm okay with that.

  • chall says:

    haha, makes you wonder right? I'm sure that it has to do with the whole "well, we're the grand parents, it's all about rebelling against your own child. Now you know how it feels" 😉

    I think I'd be quite ok with the concept of "you can do that at your grand paretnts" however the introduction of McD might be the exception. It's very hard to avoid bickering after the small ones have had the salty fatty fries to suck on... and you see them everywhere 🙁

  • proflikesubstance says:

    Meh, I'm actually fine with whatever they want to feed them. It's a grandparent's house thing and they know we don't do it at home. The bigger issue is the sleep and state they get home in. The Wee One has only slept past 6:30 a handful of times in her life, but slept until almost 8 the morning after a grandparent weekend. We thought she was sick or dead.

  • Katie says:

    Aunts are guilty as well...I once returned my nephews after a week of Aunt Camp with the a disclaimer to my sister that she should not believe anything they tell her -- oh and that they must eat only salads and veggies to cleanse their bodies. One night at an amusement park they had Dippin dots for dinner...don't even ask what we had for dessert!! What an awful thing to do, but boy they still talk about it with wonder in their eyes and we will have that memory for a long time.

    Great post!

  • gerty-z says:

    I kinda want to go stay with your parents so I can eat Cheetos and chocolate ice cream for breakfast!

  • Meghan says:

    My in-laws (who are overall great people) have apparently lost the "don't react when the kid falls" skill, and will gasp in horror for really trivial falls. And, of course, that makes the toddler start wailing like she has a mortal wound, when she really just fell on her butt (which, really, is not that far off the ground).

  • proflikesubstance says:

    Aunts can be forgiven because they may not have had the parenting practice or know the consequences of an all sugar diet on kids. Grandparents, by definition, don't have that excuse.

    Gerty, you could totally stay with my parents the next time you have a grant deadline and need to get away for a day or two. You might be too hopped up on sugar and red dye #40 to write, but whatever.

  • proflikesubstance says:

    My parents are fine with the falling, but the "don't give a 7mo foods the size of her fist" seems to have faded. I think that instinct has returned after a few chocking incidents, but at a year now, she can handle most food sizes.

  • theshortearedowl says:

    I just had some kind of epiphany... there is nothing stopping me having ice cream for breakfast! I'm going to naticakes right now...

  • scicurious says:

    ...I want to stay with your parents.

    Also, now you can cackle to yourself at the prospect of what you will some day inflict on Wee One when their kids go to grandpa's!

  • proflikesubstance says:

    That is SO far away that I can't cackle. Let me survive my stint as a parent first.

  • Alyssa says:

    Ha! What a great post! My parents do all sorts of things with our son that they would have NEVER done with us. I guess it's the circle of life 🙂

  • Respisci says:

    Me: Mom, you never say "no" to the grandchildren.
    Mom/Grandma: Of course I do dear. I tell them no all the time.
    Sister/Auntie: She sure does! Whenever the kids ask "Grandma, can I have a cookie", she answers "No dear, you can have two!"

    Classic moment seeing our mother's very guilty expression.

  • TheGrinch says:

    Do I detect a tinge of jealousy? Great post! 🙂

  • Pascale says:

    My mother, the commandant in our house growing up (please can we wait until dad gets home?) completely lost her mind when we handed her the first grandchild. You want to wear the same shirt every day? Of course grandma will wash it every night.

    Now I am awaiting my own grandsprogs to do the same shit to their parents. It's a tradition, damn it.

  • Sxydocma1 says:

    My FIL introduced my daughter to Velveeta. We have convinced her that you can only get this cheese in NH. She calls it "Pops Cheese."

  • Jim Thomerson says:

    As my daughter remarked, come summer you would put us on the airplane and wave by-by. Well, mostly we drove them to the grandparents. My mother and dad were out on the ranch, and the kids got a lot of ranch type experiences. Wife's parents were in Houston. Her mother was more set in her ways than most, but her father was OK with anything the kids wanted. The kids now adults, have appreciated their with grandparents experiences. My youngest son, then 16, went to Venezuela with me on sabbatical. He made friends with a local rancher, and several times visited the ranch for a week at a time, participating in the ranch activities. I don't think he would have known how to fit in and enjoy it without his summer at the ranch experiences.

  • DJMH says:

    This is hilarious, although it does make me wonder about my own parents, who are actually stricter with my kid than I am (at least in the bedtime department; on food it's about equal.)

    Or should this make me wonder about my own parenting???? Shit.

  • Katy says:

    I don't have children yet, but my parents got a new puppy, and I love to spoil her, give her table scraps and lot of treats, let her up on the couch they don't allow her on, etc. Then I tell my parents I'm just making up for what they're going to do to my children someday...

  • Sandy says:

    Did you ever consider that your mother feeds them that junk because she resents you thinking she should kiss the grandkids butts just because they came from your loin? I hate being a grandmother, maybe she does, too. I hate being expected to think and feel that everything those little snots do are cute and that I am required to laugh when little Johny puts his finger up my nose, or his! Just saying, McDonalds is easy and makes me look like I care - but i hate em.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Yay for Grandparents!!!!!!!!

  • DrugMonkey says:

    becca- It Gets BetterTM. No really, it does. Hang in there.

    Sxycocma- hahahahaah, we had the kids convinced the Kraft Mac and Cheese was only sold in GrandParents' State for years.

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