A letter to grandparents everywhere:
We know you’re busy right now preparing your house for our children’s holiday visit. You’re stocking the pantry with pancake mix and Hershey’s syrup, loading the DVD player with animated “message” movies and exhuming the crayons, marbles and silly straws from the closet.
Which is great. Really. We’re delighted that you adore our children, that they consider you god-like and — let’s be honest — that we get free babysitting out of the deal.
But then … nothing’s really free, is it?
We wonder if you know just how truly intolerable our children are when they return to us from a week of unbridled bed-jumping and uproarious mess-making at Nana’s Oreo Emporium — how lazy they become and utterly affronted they feel when asked to empty the dishwasher. Or, say, bathe.
We’re guessing you don’t care that we have to put our kids through Grandparent Detox since, as parents, you had to put us through the same unpleasant paces after we visited our grandparents’ house. (Man, you were mean, too, and frankly we can’t believe the same people who wouldn’t allow a loaf of white bread into our childhood home now serve our kids Cinnabons for breakfast.)
On some level, we understand your indulgence. You’ve been waiting your whole lives to say “yes” to some adorable, little, wide-eyed progeny — and now that you don’t have to face the long-term consequences of your own shoddy influence — have you absolutely no memory of dental bills? — you get to be the devil-may-care relatives, the fun ones.
But if you’d be kind enough to follow just these few guidelines, we promise to keep bringing your grandchildren to worship at your altar of processed sugar, poor personal hygiene and “flexible” (i.e. nonexistent) bedtimes:
1. Shockingly, our kids do know how to peel their own bananas and even pick up their socks from the floor. Sometimes, admittedly, they need reminding. Remind them.
2. Believe us when we say the children’s love for you is not directly proportional to the amount of whipped cream you mound on top of their hot cocoa.
3. If you absolutely must serve root beer with lunch and grape soda with dinner, could you at least inform our children that the simple act of not serving these things does not constitute child abuse? This will help us avoid any further episodes back home in which Child Protective Services shows up at our door following up on an “amomynous” tip.
4. Demand respect. You are a wise elder of our family tribe, so when our children talk back to you, roll their eyes or huff “whatever,” lay into them, you wimpy geezer!
5. Buy them all the toys you want. But be warned that any loud electronic toys they bring home will be “accidentally” left out in the rain within two weeks of arrival. And any simulated assault weapons will be used as the centerpiece for a dinner-table lecture on man’s inhumanity to man. You really don’t want that on your shoulders.
6. There is nothing wrong with boredom. Boredom fosters creativity. Do you know what four solid days of ice-skating rinks and Monopoly games and Build-A-Bear workshops foster? They foster a fricking nightmare for us back home. Let the kids stare at a wall for a few minutes, will ya?
7. Please issue at least one “no” per day just to keep them familiar with the term. We understand this may be difficult for you, as the word (which, again, seemed to be your favorite utterance while we were growing up) does not come naturally to your lips these days. A simple, “No, you may not watch ‘Dirty Sexy Money’ with Grandpa” will do.
Signature of Grandmother
Signature of Grandfather