I’ve lost my parents. They’re gone. Lost them both at the exact same time. I lost them both in childbirth – when my wife and I had kids. Now these two people who LOOK like my parents and sound like my parents are living in my old home. And that whole “if it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck” thing is a bunch of malarky!
Let me preface this by saying I LOVE MY PARENTS – they’re my heroes and our boys are so lucky to have them in their lives. But, let’s face it, they’ve lost their minds.
I remember growing up with these people who were workaholic homebodies. My mother’s mantra was: “I don’t make plans because something always ruins them.” My dad’s mantra was: “don’t get stupid” but that was for totally different reasons and has nothing to do with this post and I tried to abide by it…but, if you’ve been reading this blog long enough you know– things happen. For the purposes of this post, my father didn’t say much because he was usually asleep in his chair by 6:00 p.m. Even when I was in college, my mother called me almost every day, from home, because that’s where they were.
Now, I have no idea where they are! EVER! They are going places planned and unplanned constantly! There is not an empty square on their calendar and yet they are still up for disappearing on a whim. Especially if one of my little heathens wants to go somewhere. Do you know that I have only gone to Chuck E. Cheese twice in my life and once was when I was 37 years old. The time I went as a child, it was part of a separate vacation trip which also involved my aunt and uncle and cousin. And I remember, ever since that trip, my mother talked about the terrible pizza, and germ-riddled games and attractions, and how it was too crowded with too many people who might be the embodiment of “stranger danger.”
My kids have also been there twice. Once when we were driving by a city, an hour away from our home, when we were starving and were already engaged in a full-out day of family fun for our boys. The second time was six days later when our boys spent the night with my parents and when asked what they wanted for dinner the three-year-old answered, “Chuck E. Cheese.” Well apparently that was a convincing enough argument for my parents to pile them into the car and drive an hour away from home to have pizza.
Speaking of food, I knew what we were having for dinner weeks in advance because the menu didn’t change. We ate very few microwavable things because that wasn’t “real food” – the good food is homemade and you needed meat and vegetables every day. We had desserts in our school lunches (a Little Debbie somethingorother or a pudding cup) but actual desserts with dinners were treats like with a full Sunday dinner or a holiday. NOW there are times my older son isn’t hungry for dinner because he stopped over to my parents’ house and he filled up on mini microwaved corn dogs, crackers and canned cheese, and ice cream! They even fed him Kool Aid AND NOT AS A DRINK! HE ATE IT FROM THE PACKAGE!
I remember being in SERIOUSLY deep trouble when I refused to eat what my grandmother had made for dinner one time (not from my grandmother, mind you, she ended up making me a grilled cheese – she understood I thought ham was gross) but now my kids have more multiple choice options than they give on the SAT! “I made lasagna, but I thought some people would want ravioli, and Nathan loves spaghetti. Andrew, do any of those sound good to you or do you want a hot dog?” “No thank you, grandma, I couldn’t eat another bite after I just shotgunned this packet of pink lemonade powder.”
And I lived in constant fear of not liking something my mother made. To this day there are things I don’t like that I eat and I never say a thing. NO, I’M NOT TELLING YOU! SHE READS THIS! I’M IN ENOUGH TROUBLE AS IT IS FOR WRITING THIS AT ALL!!! It was bad enough if I didn’t eat enough of something or didn’t eat something fast enough, I was accused of not liking it. But to actually push something away and say I don’t like it?! That was dangerous ground. My wife and I aren’t that hardcore, but we do make the boys try something before they decide they don’t like it. I was in the process of telling my mother this when I made my younger son try something different he didn’t want to eat. Or at least I was trying to explain it to her – she was too busy howling with laughter until she couldn’t breath and had tears rolling down her cheeks because my 3-year-old took a bite and gave me the most sarcastic smile and “Mmmmm” he could muster. Needless to say in that battle: Dad 0; Nate and Grandma 1.
I suppose it’s a right of passage for grandparents to do outrageous things for the grandkids. They played by the rules and it was a hard job being a parent – now they can take it easy and let someone else deal with the tough stuff. My grandfather used to schlep gallons of water from his house for my sister to drink because she didn’t like how ours tasted (they lived 5 blocks away – it was the same water). I’m sure my mother and father would tell you how ridiculous that was if my dad could hear you over the sound of every musical Christmas decoration he let Nathan turn on simultaneously or if my mother wasn’t so busy making Andrew some iced tea – not like regular iced tea – like brewing a cup of tea like you were going to drink it hot, cream and sugar added, and then adding ice cubes to it to lower the temperature down to a cold drink…
“If I’d have known how wonderful it would be to have grandchildren, I would have had them first.” ~ Lois Wyse