Grandparenting is a Full Contact Sport

I read a post the other day titled “grandparenthood isn’t for wimps“…she is so totally right!  Whether your grandchildren see you for rare visits or they live with you full-time, grandparenting is a full contact sport.

Our grandchildren lived with us for just about a year and a half.  At the time they were ages 11, 9 and 5; each with their own unique needs and talents.  They are smart kids, I realize that every grandparent says that, but until they came to live with us I’d only met them once, and actually had never met Coco.  I got to know them as a result of their mother asking us to take them for the summer.  My husband got on a plane, went to Arizona to get them and so they arrived in our home.

I remember picking them up at the airport.   The flight was set to arrive at 9:00 pm on a Sunday night and I knew they’d be tired.  Since I was two weeks post op from a complete thyroidectomy, I had little voice, so I’d made a big poster to welcome them to Rhode Island.  Brightly colored ribbons and balloons surrounded each of their names on the poster board.

As they came down the escalator Kash smiled and gave me a hug, he’d spent eight weeks with us the previous summer.  Izzy was tentative and unsure; I hadn’t seen her since I married her grandfather five years earlier and she was just five years old.  And Coco, well, Coco was riding high on Grandpa’s shoulders. She looked even smaller than her four-year old frame atop Steve’s six-foot body; she had to duck her head as we exited the terminal through the sliding glass doors.  She wouldn’t get down and wouldn’t let go of him until we got to the car.

When we got them home I asked Kash to show his sisters around the house, nothing had really changed since he was here last except that the cats were bigger.  I asked if they were hungry and there was a very quick “yes” in response.  Coco went to the dining room table, sat down and waited, she appeared to be less than interested in the rest of the house–she was clearly hungry.  It took me several minutes to get the grilled cheese made but Coco sat at that table saying nothing, just waiting.  I asked questions: did she want something to drink, is there anything she didn’t want, how about a piece of fruit, how was the plane ride? If she answered me at all it was with one word.

I wondered out loud to Steve after the kids were in bed, would they be happy, would they find being here okay?  Would Coco start giving more than one word answers?   We found out pretty quickly, yes, they were happy, and yes, although they missed their mom and dad they didn’t mind being here.

As for more than one word at a time coming from Coco, that happened too.  The second day they were here I thought it would be a good idea to go to the library.  We could get some books and videos for them to have handy, our house was not yet filled with toys and games and dolls and crayons, and, and, and, that would very soon be the norm for us.

We happened to be sitting at a traffic light near the library waiting for the green to go.  The kids were sitting in the back seat, I was driving with Steve in the passenger seat.  Suddenly, I heard the little voice that had only been given to one word answers say:  “Were are we going now, jackass?”  Perfect voice inflection and quite loud, she seemed to know what she was saying, as did her brother and sister.

A loud gasp came from the back seat; it was the two older kids, I wondered if it was because it was shocking to hear coming from their baby sister or because they didn’t know what I was going to do.  I got through the busy intersection and pulled over to the side of the road, Steve somehow hadn’t heard the comment and was stunned that I’d stopped the car.  I turned in my seat, looked right at Coco and asked, “What did you just say?”  She of course looked at me and said nothing, to which I stated to all three of them:  “We do not talk like that in this family”.

Of course I felt like I had to take a pretty tough stand because I needed them to know that there are rules to follow.    It is going to be different from when they lived in Arizona.  Coco didn’t get to come into the library with us, she stayed outside with Grandpa.  I think it was the last time she used bad words, at least  in front of Grandma.

Coco's ride 2


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