Grandchildren: trying, exhausting, and absolutely wonderful

By Joanne Peterson | Nov 06, 2013

It’s past 11 o’clock Saturday night. I turn down the furnace and start the dishwasher.  I brew a cup of herbal tea and settle on the couch in the quiet living room. I suspect I am too tired to get ready for bed.

I still wear the sweats I pulled on early this morning when I got up—and in amazement realize that I have not showered, brushed my teeth or combed my hair all day. I can scarcely believe it. The only possible explanations for such lapses would be that I’ve been ill--or camping in the wilderness, alone. Neither of those is the case.

I’m staying with my two grandchildren in West Seattle while their parents are away for the weekend.  Friday afternoon, driving their mother’s SUV containing their car seats, I picked Adam and Abby up at daycare.

Collecting them from their classrooms, I herded them to the car and buckled them into the car seats, no easy task, made more difficult by the fact that Abby jumped into Adam’s car seat and established herself in it, refusing to budge. (How would I know whose was whose?)

This was the beginning of my privileged time with my granddaughter who will be 3 in February and grandson who is 4 1/2.

The immensity of my weekend responsibility bears little resemblance to my recollections of caring for my own son and daughter when they were small. Being a grandmother entrusted with two young grandchildren to care for in their home for a weekend carries an entirely different burden of responsibility.

Any grandparent of more than one grandchild will tell you that the energy required to care for two grandchildren at the same time is exponentially greater than caring for one.

Still, by the time I left the parking lot with my small charges buckled into their wrong car seats, they were cheerfully munching the snacks Grandma dug out of her purse to defuse their impending rages. All was well.

On the way home, Adam and I pointed out colorful autumn trees at every turn.  After we arrived at their house and dumped backpacks and art projects on the floor, I impulsively suggested we go for a walk.

The children and I ended up walking several blocks to the beach, returning in semi-darkness. It was a joyful walk—Abby sweetly holding my hand, and Adam scuffing through fallen leaves, chattering. At home, we agreed on yogurt, grilled cheese sandwiches and Caesar salad for dinner.  Grandma allowed two pieces each of trick-or-treat candy for dessert, necessitating lengthy and intense sifting through Halloween loot.

That was the first night.  I finally settled them into bed after tooth-brushing, story-reading and various stalling endeavors. Same drill tonight. Now they’re asleep after a Saturday full of activity—too much to list.

Here I sit, too tired to walk upstairs. I wonder whether Abby will show up again tomorrow morning at my bedside at some dark awful hour.  Probably.

Yes, I’m having a great time.

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