Spring break around our house means toys all over the floor, craft projects galore, kid’s movie marathons, multiple reminders to “brush your teeth”, adventurous outings, and Grandpa’s ‘gourmet’ cinnamon toast. No, John and I aren’t reverting back to our childhood. Mackenzie, Macy, and Essie are on the scene.
One of our adventurous outings this time found us in a pet store to look at all the fish, ferrets, lizards, hamsters, birds, snakes (with great personalities, the store clerk said), and other small creatures wanting a new and forever home. And Mackenzie was more than willing to oblige.
“Nanna will you buy me a fish?”
“No, honey, I can’t.”
“Because I won’t buy you a pet without your mom and dad’s permission.”
“We’ve talked about this before. You’ve got plenty of pets—a horse, sheep, kittens, dogs...you don’t really have time to take care of any more pets.”
“I’ll keep it at your house.”
“I already have fish so we’ll just say they’re your fish, too.”
Now Macy jumps into the conversation with, “Can your fish be mine, too?”
“Sure, why not.”
This little conversation reminded me of a similar one Mackenzie and I had when she was about three—one in which she tried to convince me to pierce her ears while she was watching me get ready for the day. Again I said no because it wasn’t my decision to make.
Listen up, grandparents! Your job is to love your grandchildren; playing with them, fixing their favorite foods, reading books, answering millions of questions, letting the house stay messy until they leave, holding little hands, keeping weed flowers (as the girls call them) as a treasured memory, sharing lipstick, disciplining them when they are in your care, and NOT usurping their parents’ authority or wishes.
Buying the girls a fish wouldn’t have put a dent in the budget and I could have found several ways to ‘justify’ it (a nanna’s privilege, teaching them responsibility….). But none of those things would have been justification of ignoring Zach and Becca’s wishes. They’ve got plenty to do without having to worry about keeping a fish alive and a fish bowl clean. Besides, I love and respect them too much to disregard their wishes and ‘house rules’.
So remember, grandparents, your job isn’t to make the rules for your grandkids. Your job is to respect your children’s rules for their children and to model that respect for authority to your grandchildren.
Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be copied or used without permission from the author.