If it aint broke, don’t fix it!

Dear Grandparents,

Aren’t grandkids grand? Are you stressing? Or are you one of those grandparents who takes it all in stride and lets nothing bother you? After all, they’re just kids, and you’ve been there, done that. Nonetheless, with this new generation we grandparents get to meet the challenges of childrearing with a whole new perspective—with zest and willingness!

I have found that I treat my grandchildren much differently from how I treated my own children. How different? Well, I am much more lenient, more understanding, more apt to think the child knows what he’s talking about when he disagrees with me, and certainly, I am more likely to spoil these children.

I thought I knew everything there was to know about raising kids. After all, I was a teacherl for more than twenty years, and I raised two healthy, successful daughters. I should know everything there is to know about kids. Right? Not so fast.

Riley, my first grandson, was a unique baby. He was the first baby I’d ever seen that did not like food. Luckily, his mother was an Occupational Therapist and knew how to remedy this problem. He didn’t have a major problem; he just didn’t like solid foods. Even today, he is a picky eater. So, Riley taught me patience, and his mama taught me what a real teacher looks like. Watching them work together was not only new and interesting, but also like watching one of those unfolding, revealing Disney movies—heartwarming. But, Riley also taught me something else. He taught me that every kid really is different, and  he proved that my presumptuous expectations could easily be crushed.

I had been Riley’s babysitter when he was an infant, but then his family had moved away, and I was left to deal with the heartbreak of distance. But, that is another story. In this story, Riley’s parents were coming home for a business visit. So, eighteen-month-old Riley would have to spend two nights with me. Halleluiah! My baby was coming home!

Of course, we wanted everything to be perfect. Much preparation went into the days ahead, and then I got the most brilliant idea. “Angie,” I said to his mom, “I want to videotape you talking to Riley. I want you to tell him that everything is going to be OK. I want you to look into the camera and say soothing things. That way, if he cries or misses you at bedtime, we will play this video to comfort him. Then he won’t miss you at all!”

“What a great thought, Mom,” she said with her usual snappy grin. I think she even muttered something about inspiration and initiative.

Anyway, Riley’s visit went great. We played, he quietly napped, and we explored the house and yard. He was one happy baby. We even went to the library. Coincidentally, another grandmother was there with her adorable, red-headed granddaughter. They were in our same situation. The mother was getting ready to leave the baby with grandma. Helpful me told them about my great idea. “Yes,” the doting grandmother said, “I will videotape the baby’s mother before she leaves, and I will show it to the baby tonight. It’s a good thing you were here today,” she winked, “I would never have thought of such a good idea.”

The proverbial feather in my proverbial cap bloomed!

Well, that evening at bedtime, Riley wasn’t the least bit sad. He was having a ball. We wouldn’t even need Mama’s movie tonight. But. Why let such a good idea go to waste?

Riley’s big brown eyes looked up at me with curiosity as I pulled out the movie camera. “Look, Riley, you can see Mama.”

A look of sheer terror spread across his little face. His eyes, as big as saucers, shattered my heart. He grabbed the camera, put his nose right up to the screen, and bellowed out, “Mommy!”

Sobs and deep breaths echoed off the walls. Screams that begged for Mommy resonated throughout the rooms. And, I … I, the almighty, smart, know-it-all, pompous grandmother—now filled with humility and sorrow—hugged, cuddled, and comforted Riley the best I could. After an eternity of tears, Riley finally fell asleep in my arms. And, I know that you know that I did not put him down for the rest of the night.

Sure enough, all ended okay. Except of course, that my heart was forever damaged. But Riley played the next day as if nothing traumatic had occurred. And that night we stayed away from the movie camera! Nevertheless, I was so very haunted by two things. How had I been so wrong? And, how was the grandmother at the library doing?

This horrific affair taught me two lessons.

Lesson #1

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Lesson #2

It’s not necessary to do so much for my grandkids.

Sometimes less is best.

Well, grandparents, I hope you are having a good time with your grands. If you ever have to babysit them, don’t fret. You just don’t have to do that much worrying.

From the sunny side of grandparenting, I bid you farewell.

Curly Grandma

Who is Curly Grandma? She is a real grandma with seven grandchildren.  Her name comes from her first grandchild, Megan, who learned to distinguish her two grannies with adjectives (hence the Curly). Visit Curly Grandma at her website www.curlygrandma.com and learn all about writing letters to grandchildren. On her site, get lots of information and free stationery. And you can even buy her book Curly Grandma’s Letters: Writing to Kids and Capturing Your Autobiography (Tate Publishing; available on Amazon.com). This blog and illustrations are not to be copied or reproduced without permission from Anita Bryce.


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