“When grandparents enter the door, discipline flies out the window.” –Ogden Nash

It was Grandparents Day at Maria and Christian’s school on Wednesday. I like Grandparents Day. Everyone is just so doggone happy to be there. Every grandparent is beaming. Every kid is proud as punch. “This is my grandpa!” they’ll say, like maybe you couldn’t figure that out. The hugs, the kisses, the handholding. For boomers, it’s a little like Woodstock but without the sex and drugs.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger gathering of adults who couldn’t care less about discipline than on Grandparents Day. Not our job. During a musical assembly that lasted about 45 minutes, I never saw one person frown, shush or tell a kid to stop doing anything. This is unheard of when parents are around. Yet in the face of obvious misbehavior, grandparents will stare straight ahead, oblivious and happy.

Christian got hold of two magnetic chip clips and spent the entire assembly sticking them to the seats in front of us and clipping them to various spots on our clothes. I saw no reason why he shouldn’t. Maria and her friend Maddy, who were sitting between Maddy’s grandma and me, played a hand-clapping game in time to the music. It was obvious that Maddy’s grandma had no intention of telling them to stop. I know I didn’t.

We visited their classrooms and saw their desks (cleaned for the occasion), looked at textbooks, oohed over artwork, drank juice and ate sandwiches and cookies. But mostly we just marveled at the talent, imagination and resourcefulness of grandchildren. Really, it’s hard to know what there is for their parents to find fault with.


“The idea that no one is perfect is a view commonly held by people with no grandchildren.”  –Doug Larson


Welcome to Judyland

I’m thinking I’d better introduce you to the grandkids, so you’ll have a better understanding of what I’m facing. I love them, of course, and I think they love me. You would love me too if I bought you things and let you do anything you want and constantly told you how perfect you are. That’s because every one of them is indeed perfect, a mysterious thing since their parents clearly were not.

My oldest grandchild, Maria, now ten, inherited the family sarcasm gene and then elevated it to an art. It’s a little disconcerting. As it is, I can’t tell when she’s joking, and now along comes pre-puberty with the inevitable eye-rolling and withering looks. It was just the two of us for quite a while, so Maria is special and knows it and appears to simply tolerate the others as inconveniences that won’t go away. Her brother, Christian, is the bane of her existence.

At six, Christian is all boy all the time. From the time he was able to pick up a stick, he’s been brandishing something, which is how I learned to play pirates and robots. I don’t know what I’m doing, can’t make the right sounds or fight properly, but it doesn’t matter since my role is always the same – I am the hapless chump who dies. Christian can surprise you though. Like when his little sister Grace is sleeping and he brushes back the hair on her forehead to kiss her. It’s enough to make you weep.

Five-year-old Grace is basically uninhibited, sometimes shy, terminally cute. Her fashion signature is tutu with jeans, and she will smile for a camera at the drop of a hint. Grace has a soft little voice but sings very LOUD, and after last year’s Christmas concert, her pre-school teacher kindly called her “our star,” which I think is pretty much what Gracie sees when she looks into the future.

Then along came Cosette, one of those bright first-born children who starts talking early and then it’s off to the races. I feel a little sorry for her parents. She misses nothing and I don’t imagine it will be long before she knows more than they do. In the past year she’s told her father, “Calm down, Dad,” and her mother, “Focus, Mom.” She turned three this month. Cosette likes to tell people what to do, which usually means just me and their dog and sometimes just me.

And finally there’s Cosette’s baby brother, Bret Jr., just two months old. The only trouble he’s caused so far is that no one knows what to call him. This happens with juniors. Usually the parents have a nickname in mind, but these two did not. How long can we call him Baby Bret? Eventually it will be Toddler Bret, then Boy Bret, and I refuse to go any further than Boy Bret. Even that’s too far. “Oh, well,” his mother says, “Something will work out” – a rather cavalier attitude, if you ask me, but nobody ever does.

And that’s them. I have a life apart from being a grandmother, of course, and some time I’ll tell you about it.