I Don’t Really Hate Kids

“I hate kids” was a common phrase that my mother says along with “don’t spill the wine,” “in my next life I am coming back as a man,” and “shit and shinola.” (And those are just a sampling of her greatest hits.)

After the particularly short night we had on Christmas Eve this year, I’d like to give you my thoughts on her most famous saying.

I don’t hate kids. I love you all—my kids, my in-law kids, and my grandkids. I would always laugh when my mom would express her hatred of all kids because I always knew in my heart that she was joking—mostly! However, just for a few moments on Christmas Eve night and Christmas Day morning this year, I shared that sentiment.

During the past few Christmases, our house has been Santa’s annex, since it would be difficult to explain the arrival of so many packages at the doorstep of a home with curious children. Both last year and this year my home has also served as Santa’s workshop since it is the perfect place to assemble some too-big-to-hide toys such as one very huge kitchen set and a three-story dollhouse.

Dad and I had to be involved in assisting Santa in transporting these gifts from our house to the house with the wee little ones. Last year, the kitchen set fit into the back of my car with just an inch to spare on either side and had to be taken into and out of the car by two very strong he-men.

This year—the year I briefly hated kids—we were faced with the problem of a child who was too excited to fall asleep until nearly 11:30, so Dad and I stayed up way past our bedtime in our clothes instead of in our heated-by-the-drier- pajamas. And in order to be able to witness the excitement of the children’s first view of the toys underneath the Christmas tree, we had to set our alarms for 5 am. That is when those infamous words of my mother ever so briefly popped into my head.

Just like that excited little boy, I also could not fall asleep because of those visions of sugar plums dancing in my head. Christmas Day 2018 confirmed that five hours of sleep is just not enough for me. However, when one not-quite-three-year-old little girl bypassed her presents under the tree to screech my name with excitement and run towards me after she came down the stairs, my hatred of kids melted away faster than a dish of Moose Tracks ice cream on a very hot Carolina summer day.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Happy!

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Who Cares About the Lights and Santa

Going to the zoo during the Christmas season has become another holiday tradition for our family, particularly enhanced now that we have young children to accompany us. The lights are wonderful, particularly the tree at the entrance whose changing lights are synchronized with music and include swinging monkeys as part of the show.

Fake snow made of soap excited the children, and there was, of course, the meet-and-greet with Santa, which went much better this year—no more tears! In fact, after being assured that her brother would sit next to Santa, Lily agreed to sit for the photo and ended up chatting with the jolly old elf. She told him what was on her wish list: a crown, some pink coins, a water shooter, and a dust pan and broom. She mentioned the eye patch her daddy had worn when he hurt his eye.

While there were some animals to see (most were in bed for the night), the biggest draw for our little girl was the plants. This was not surprising to me, because she is constantly asking me the names of every flower, bush, and tree around my yard, and just recently, she was seen reading a copy of “Better Homes and Gardens” while waiting for her gymnastics class to begin. Not only did she point to the plants and ask for their names, she requested that I repeat the answer so she could burn the names into her brain.

I think I need to go out and buy a Christmas cactus.

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I am Skeptical

Now that I am a grandma, I have spent a lot of time skipping down memory lane. Today, I want to discuss potty training, which was a reward which every parent impatiently anticipated and celebrated its success.

I opened my baby book and discovered that I began my adventures in potty training at the age of—wait for it, wait for it—7 ½ months!! I kid you not. According to my mom’s entries in my book, I apparently had some success well before my first birthday. I find that hard to believe.

What does this really mean? Apparently this coincided with the moment when I was able to sit alone unaided, so I guess Grandma just plopped me on the potty. Did she follow a signal, or did she just strap me aboard and forced me to remain there until success was achieved?

If you are repulsed when changing a number-two-filled disposable diaper, I must tell you that it is a piece of cake compared to changing a similarly filled cloth diaper, so I understand rushing the process. However, I am extremely skeptical of the success of placing a child on the throne at such a very young age.

I need to have a chat with Grandma about this.

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He Wants What?

The countdown begins. Stores are already decking their halls, and children are making their lists for the jolly old elf. Therefore, it should not have been surprising that Bryce would want to discuss his most-wanted gift with Dad and me already.

“Grandma, do you know what a robot vacuum is?” he asked me this week. I immediately thought of the round vacuum that my own parents had, but he could not possibly be speaking of that, could he? He went on to describe this very cool floor-cleaning device, which could clean both the carpeted floors and wood floors as well.

When I mentioned it to his mom, she informed me that he was indeed interested in this household helper. He wanted to show it to her, so he went to YouTube and tried to find it himself—typing in R-B-T. Mommy explained that he needed to add a few “O’s”, and once he had typed in R-O-B-O-T followed by “V,” up popped an array of videos.

“It costs a lot of money,” she pointed out to him.

“It won’t cost us anything because Santa will bring it. It will be fun too, because we can chase it all over the house.”

Well then, how do you respond to this? I am willing to bet that Santa will not receive this request from a single other child.

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Outwit, Outplay, Outlast

Outwit, outplay, outlast. This is not just the slogan of television show “Survivor,” but also representative of life with a 2 ¾ year old. The most recent challenge revolves around how to keep her in her room at night. The method had been to temporarily secure her there after teeth/story/prayer time were over with what is known as a monkey lock, and then remove it after she was asleep.

While this device had been quite successful in keeping her and big brother from Mom’s office and her room until recently, her genius mind has now consistently been able to outsmart the lock.

The first escape occurred the night that she decided to place a diaper box inside her hamper so she could climb high enough to release the lock. She then ran victoriously downstairs with her pants off and a smile of accomplishment on her face. Mom and Dad removed the hamper and every box from her room, but that did not stop her. No siree!

The little thinker next removed every book from her bookcase and then piled them up until they were high enough to reach the monkey lock. It also created a wall which made it difficult for her or her parents to open the door.

So she needed to come up with a third plan. She hooked the top piece from her Minnie Mouse car onto the door knob, and then pulled it back and forth until the force of this action slid the monkey lock low enough for her to reach the lock and open the door. Another success!

Holy cow! The score is now Child 3 and Mom and Dad 0. How do you outsmart this child?

Thoughts After an Unexpected Visit

An unexpected invasion of my house by four houseguests gave me pause to consider the consequences of mixing the generations together, what can happen when children are separated from their parents, and why giving birth to a child after the age of fifty is not necessarily a good idea—at least not for me.

“Too many cooks spoil the broth” is a good motto and is particularly true when having all four grandparents cohabitating with their grandchildren. I know that parents do not always agree with how to discipline their own children, so adding two additional parents to the mix—now “grands”—can be confusing to the children and awkward for the adults, particularly when trying to maintain civility. The good news was that there were no major explosions.

Children are exhausting, which is why parenting is generally meant for the young. Having our little visitors hear for seven days was fun, and they made us laugh—until the sun sets and something happened to their angelic personalities. That was particularly true of the two-year-old, who thinks I can be conned into thinking I will believe her when she says she will stay in her room.

A sixty-nine-year-old Italian woman became the oldest woman to give birth without any fertility intervention just two years ago. In 1887, a sixty-two-year-old woman gave birth to triplets, and a seventy-year-old Indian woman had a baby with her seventy-year-old husband via IVF treatments. That’s nuts! I wonder what bedtime is like at that house!

I know my grandchildren love their parents much more than they do me, which is how it should be. Even Mary Poppins recognized that fact. But when they adapt to their new surroundings and become too comfortable, then reunion time may be cause for tears rather than happy smiles.

Learning that news did not bring me comfort, and it made me wonder about all the children who have been separated from their parents at our southern borders. I hope that most of the reconciliations were joyous, but I am guessing that some of those children cried when greeted by their parents.  How heartbreaking for those moms and dads! Was it really necessary?

A Maverick Woman

A recent situation arose in our family, which immediately returned me to our New Jersey home some twenty-plus years ago. It was the time that Jamie misbehaved  and Dad retaliated by removing her toys from her room. She continued her unacceptable behavior and did not stop until Dad removed her desk chair. (“Not my chair,” she said followed by “I’ll be good. I’ll be good!”) See You’re in Trouble with a Capital “T.”

Now the culprit was the 2 ½ year old of the family, who was practicing the skills she had just learned in her new gymnastics class by repeatedly climbing over the gate at her bedroom door. Not one to always listen to commands, particularly when she believes her actions are somehow wildly hysterical and worth any possible punishment, she ignored the orders to stop. That is when her mommy decided to resurrect the not-my-chair punishment.

Being her own woman—a maverick—this did not work. I believe one of her parents had to snuggle with her until she drifted off to sleep.

That is not the end of the story. On her first day of school after this incident, she returned home with her own report of her morning in pre-school. She mentioned the snack of the day (cheesy crackers she told me) and the fact that she had gotten into trouble. Apparently, she was comfortable with her surroundings, and as she does when in any place where she feels at home, our little cutie removed her shoes. The rest of the class responded in kind by removing their shoes. The teachers were not pleased.

She is a leader—a strong woman. I look forward to what she becomes.