Grandparents would make really cool parents. But my aim is not to be cool.
We all know the expression that most grandparents employ, that being a g’parent is great because you get all the fun and sharing, and then you get to give the kids back at the end of the day. Partly, the way they seem to act must be down to this sudden lack of real parental responsibility after all these years of having their own children. I’ve spoken before (Emerging Adulthood) about finally becoming a grown up, and one of the five stages of this being having your own children. Perhaps with this, we cross the line into not needing ‘looking after’ any more, and our parents are free to seize the silliness which theyve spent the last few decades quashing and enjoy not having to be the ‘grown ups’ for a while.
Does this explain why when I’m trying to get my 1yo down for an afternoon nap, gritting my teeth through the controlled crying and trying not to join him in his tears, I have a grandma at my shoulder voicing her opinion of “Well, if he doesnt want to go to sleep, why should he have to?” Er.. maybe because otherwise he’s going to be a huge grouch all afternoon and not eat properly or feel well? And when I’m feeding him, Oh you’re being so cruel, if he doesnt want that mashed potato, why should he have to have it? Because kids (especially babies) dont have any idea what they like yet and its up to us to introduce tastes and different foods? Apparently irrelevant.
It’s not as if I have some magical knowledge of babies that they don’t have. On the contrary, they brought us all up, and I would bet a substantial sum that all of us had plenty of afternoon naps and ate full and nourishing meals, against our heavy protestations. But somehow when the generation gap widens, all responsible parenting seems to fly out the window. I’m sure R would love a piece of chocolate cake.. just a small piece? … Oh let’s wake him up for a quick cuddle… I saw seventeen different toys he doesnt need this week, and just had to buy them all. Where was this when we were growing up? With our strict bed times and dietary mandates and forgotten birthday presents let alone ‘just because’ presents.. Is this just sudden freedom from parental responsibility? Or have they grown up and realised that life’s too short to be so strict?
If grandparents could have their time back with us parents as babies, I wonder if they would be so laissez faire with the rules. Or if it is just a way to build that special g’parent/g’child bond through cake and treats and bending those rules. Maybe I’m crazy to let it annoy me when I know that to some extent all g’parents do the same thing. And yet…