A second chanceJun 02, 2023 09:49AM ● By Peri Kinder
People say they wish they’d had their grandkids first, but you can’t appreciate the ease of grandchildren without first swimming through the shark-infested sewer that is parenthood. The sleepless nights, the face-wrinkling worry and the gut-clenching idea that you’ve messed your kids up forever is all forgotten when you become a grandparent.
Most Wednesdays, my four youngest grandkids come over after school to play games, make crafts, eat Popsicles and cause random chaos. At 11, 7, 6 and 2, they’re young enough to still find me entertaining, but they also expect me to die at any moment because, at 54, I’m unbelievably old.
The 7- and 6-year-old granddaughters team up immediately, take their usual blood oath (“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good”), then disappear for a while.
My 11-year-old grandson tries to teach me his newest Kung Fu moves while the 2-year-old crawls out the doggie door into the backyard.
As I practice my jabs and leg sweeps, and corral the 2yo back into the house, the 6yo and 7yo discuss how to creep into the attic through an opening in the pantry ceiling. They opt for Plan A which has them scaling pantry shelves to get into the crawl space. When I foil that idea, it’s back to the drawing board.
Now, the 2yo is missing. I send the girls to look outside and the grandson to hunt downstairs. Earlier, I’d closed my office door so she couldn’t get in, but I find her hiding under my desk, happily listening to us search for her.
While the 11yo beats me at Rack-O, I see the two girls mosey into the garage for Plan B. They look suspicious, so I follow and listen to them figure out how to carry the ladder into the pantry.
“Nope,” I say, as they jump 20 feet into the air.
“We’re just getting Popsicles,” one of them says. They scurry to the freezer and make a big show of picking out the perfect Popsicle before going back inside to resume planning.
The 2yo is missing. After a brief search, I find her sitting behind the recliner, eating Milk-Bones with our dog Jedi.
While the 11-year-old wins Yahtzee for the third time in a row, I notice the two girls whispering on the couch. They’re on to Plan C: looking for materials to build a ladder since I foiled their earlier strategies. I get out the paints, rubber stamps and crayons and distract them with a craft project.
The 2yo is missing. I find her in the backyard, throwing Jedi’s balls down the window well. Jedi stares down at her favorite ball and looks at me like, “I guess you’re climbing into that spider-infested hole to get my squeaky ball.”
I gather everyone for dinner (only the 11yo eats) before realizing the 2yo is missing. I don’t have to look far. She’s in the hall, coloring the wall with a purple crayon. About this time, my husband gets home from work to find me washing crayon off the wall.
“Why weren’t you watching her?” he asks, like I’d encouraged the toddler to create a lavender mural in the hall. I respond by pouring a tablespoon of antifreeze in his Diet Coke.
Although my Wednesday nights are a bit scattered, I’m in no rush for these kids to get older. I’ve learned how fast children grow up and I don’t want to waste a single minute with them. Even better, these evenings are a lifeline to my daughters who are swimming that shark-infested sewer of parenthood.