Life experiences: as good as a list

By Joanne Peterson | Nov 14, 2013

I’ve totally recovered from spending a weekend taking care of my two young grandchildren in West Seattle. I’ve been home a week, so it’s not really a surprise that I’ve gotten rested. It’s just that it took longer than I anticipated.

Does it feel good to be home in my own bed, knowing that I won’t hear a little boy coughing in the night and wondering whether he’s getting sick? Do I sleep better knowing I will not be startled awake by a small girl standing next to the bed staring at me through the darkness? Well, yes. Then again, I miss the sweet little creatures.

As I often say, if you’re a grandparent, you know what I’m talking about. If you’re a parent, you can’t imagine how different it will be when you are dealing with the children of the children you now are raising. The best way I can explain it is to say that with your own children, you are around-the-clock responsible, and you know their routines, their fears, their favorite things to eat and do and to not eat and not do.

As a grandparent, you’re apt to be a bit removed from all that knowledge. Indeed, if you are caring for the little ones for any length of time, it’s downright scary to realize that you are lacking a great deal of the current child-rearing knowledge their parents prefer.

Beloved grandchildren, sweet innocents that they are, can sense a grandmother’s weaknesses and use them to improve their circumstances —especially when Mama and Daddy are out of town.  It took me a while to get over feeling anxious when Adam or Abby informed me that “Mama doesn’t do it that way”— whether I was slicing a banana, applying ice to a bumped knee or folding laundry.  I’ve gotten past that particular hurdle, though, and now answer immediately, “Oh, really? It’s how Grandma does it!” It’s amazing how quickly small children accept that simple declaration.

When I was a child, and my dad built my mother’s parents their own apartment in our house, it was on the main floor, entered either through a door at the side of our dining room or from a private entrance. I used that dining room door a dozen times a day, at least, and my grandparents often ate dinner with us.

Because they lived in close proximity, under the same roof, they knew a great deal about their grandchildren and about the routines in our home. When our parents left us in the care of our grandparents, they pretty much knew the drill.

When I go to West Seattle to take care of my two young grandchildren, I come up against unknowns their mother did not address on her list of things I need to know. It pleases me that the unknowns bother me less each time I take care of them. I have a lot of life experience to guide me, right?  So we get by. We get along. It’s all good.

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