Friday, July 9, 2010
My legs are bruised from knee to ankle and my ice cream is missing. My home is littered with debris and my furniture is all askew. There are smears all over my windows and my blinds have been violated.
Was it a burglary? A hate crime? A hostage situation?
No, it was a tiny (not tater) tot convention, an invasion of the Grammy snatchers. It was my grandkids.
Although they try hard to maintain what's left of my sanity, the longer I’m in Portland, the more things my kids think up to do so that I can keep their kids. But I’m not complaining. The primary reason I make my twice-yearly trip to the West Coast is so my grandchildren can realize how wonderful I am.
And they have! They think I’m great! That’s because I let them eat chocolate and run rampant. I don’t make them go to bed and, one time, I let Miles watch South Park when I couldn’t find his mother-approved wussy cartoons on television.
My kids don’t dare complain because I’m free and available and I don’t do drugs or text my boyfriend while I’m babysitting. They do get a tad testy about the chocolate, especially when I give it to the little overstimulated urchins right before they come to pick them up.
And I do love those grandchildren of mine, their sticky sweetness, their hugs when I don’t even beg, their goofy smiles, and their childlike, yet discerning, retorts.
But, boy, do they wear me out. Just getting them in and out of their car seats is an exercise in fortitude. Back when my kids were small, we just threw them in the car and prayed for their safe arrival. Now you have to have big biceps, strong thumbs, and a tolerance for cursing just to shoehorn the little tykes in and buckle ‘em up.
And now, you can’t just send your kids out of the house and lock the door. You have to slather them with sunscreen having something called an SPF and make sure the Child Welfare people aren’t being called when they bang on the window when their protection wears off. They're like mini vampires, waiting for the sun to go down before they can venture out.
And then, there’s the park. They always want to go to the park. Even Georgia wants to go to the park, although she often falls asleep in her stroller on the way. Cami’s favorite thing to do is to go up (but not down) the slide. How can a kid who isn’t even two figure out what the rules are so she can break them? Miles’ favorite thing to do at the park is to strip and pee. Right there in front of God and derelicts. My job is to first tell him no he can’t pee at the park and then to shield him from perverts and the police as he carries on with his plan.
When I have all three of them over, it’s like inviting drunken sailors to a tea party. They lurch around and fall down; they fight over the smallest things, pretend to mourn their bad behavior, and then break out into furious tears over the slimmest slight, all the while swilling and spilling and spewing outrageous claims. The rules of war are followed as they adhere to a stringent pecking order: Miles takes advantage of Cami; Cami gets the best of Georgia; Georgia cries; and Miles gets back at Cami. There seems to be no real fear of retribution (at least while Grammy is there), and to put it bluntly, they act just like children.
Bath time is my favorite time, partly because the little imps are somewhat corralled. I've bathed two at a time; never all three. I have bathed Miles and Cami while Georgia tried to climb into the tub. They are so much fun when wet, although they can be slippery. They love to pour the dirty water into cups and suck on the washcloth. I’m pretty sure there’s some urinating going on in there but, so far, no number two.
Since my time with my grandkids is relegated to two weeks at Christmas and six weeks in the summer, I'm realizing that each West Coast visit I make becomes like a snapshot in time. Never again will these three look, act, or be like this, and when I have a moment or the energy to think about it, it feels so precious and makes me a bit melancholy.
But, although I would like to sit and mourn the sweet but sad passing of time and the delicate texture of experience, there's some dried spaghetti I need to scrape up off the living room floor and a diaper in the trash that's starting to stink.