|Any superlative you could apply to the phrase, “Grandchildren are _____”, would fit. Wonderful, a blessing, a joy, all of them true. Not to detract from that one bit is that they will also drive you crazy. Even the most patient among us will have their moments. My wife, who has worked with young children for the last twenty five years, will eventually be driven to madness. Here’s the thing – if you already have a head start on crazy, it is a much shorter trip.
My wife is torn between conflicting dilemmas. If she tells me ahead of time that the grand children are coming, I will start making the trip earlier. If she waits until the last moment, my decline will be precipitous. Either way, I will be well on my way by the time the kids get here
I love the grand children, they are ______. The problem is that to maintain an even keel and not become a disoriented crazy person shouting at nothing while speeding towards completely insane, I need a certain set of conditions. I need it to be quiet, or barring that, no sudden loud noises which will cause me to throw anything I am holding into the air. I also need a degree of order or I become confused(er). For me to make sense of the world, things must be in their place. Lastly, I need a degree of predictability. I have become quite poor at coping with sudden change. One might even remove the word “sudden” from that sentence.
When our three grandchildren are behaving themselves and playing together well, none of those conditions are met. If things get a little sideways, the level of riotous disorder rises well beyond my ability to cope. Consequently, when they are here, I am hyper-vigilant in listening for early signs that war is breaking out. Then I call in the mediator because if I try, I sink to the level of the rioting children. I am told that this does not help.
Having the kids is one of my wife’s greatest joys. It is a trial for me. It is Monday morning and everyone is gone. I am restoring the house to an acceptable level of order. I have the first load of wet towels started. I think there are two more loads to do, and then I can take care of all the detritus lying about. There is only one load of dishes to do because I have been keeping up with that. The entire house needs vacuuming. I need to ferret out all the blankets, partially-eaten food (because they never finish anything), and clothing from the secret places such as the attic and the closets that have been inhabited during the weekend. The house will be acceptable by Tuesday afternoon.
Of all the things I am terrible at, I am perhaps the worst at grand parenting. One or two kids is pretty much OK. Having all three is far beyond my abilities. I would like to be better, but there is nothing I can do about the anxiety, and believe me, I have tried a lot of things. The quiet is starting to sink in now and I am at least steady enough to type. The lamps don’t have halos anymore (OK for deities, not OK for fixtures). I haven’t spoken with anyone yet, but I think I could do it without stuttering. And, I haven’t felt it necessary to shout at anything yet today, a good sign. I have Wednesday and Thursday to get ready for next weekend after the house is restored. I should be able to get back to the starting line by then.