Tuesday, April 8, 2014

There's a Nap for That

Last week, I had the pleasure of keeping my two little grandsons for the week while their mommy and daddy took a trip. It never ceases to amaze me how enlightening it is to revisit  "full time" parenting of young children.   As grandparents, most of the time we are just the cheerleading squad.  We get to stay on the side lines while the parents get to do the hard work of quarterbacking, tackling, and running the field while we give them "high fives" and  "way to go".   Yay, TEAM!!!

However, every once in a while we get a taste of what it's like to really be in the game and it's interesting...and busy and exhausting.  Turns out the game is harder than a person would think. Now I know that might sound strange given the fact, I used to be a full time mom of small children but it appears that chaos is a  acclimated environment.  Yes, like plunging into very cold water.  After awhile you adapt and don't notice that you have hypothermia.  Same with parenting little kids.  When you are in the metaphoric freezing pool of chaos you aren't noticing that your limbs are falling off.

But.....perhaps I am just out of practice.   OR maybe it's that AND things have changed in the years since I had a three year old and a six year old on a regular basis.

Thought Number One:  Some Things Have Changed While Others Remain the Same

It turns out that some thing regarding care for children are about the same as it has always been.  Bathing, brushing teeth, eat your vegetables, time for bed, stay in bed, no we aren't reading another bedtime story, no you have gone to the potty 3 times now,  no you aren't thirsty, ...are you up again?....

Yes, all of that seems fairly familiar but other things...TOTALLY different.

First of all technology came visiting and decided to worm it's way into the psyche of all living beings, including the toddler and grade school set.  For example:   Riding in a car.

AHHH..remember the good ole days when you would travel with your parents and somewhere between the license plate bingo or "I spy with my little eyes" there would be a bout of "he's touching me...make him stop!"  At that point,  any parent worth their weight in "false threats" would shout via the use of the rear view mirror.  "DO I HAVE TO STOP THIS CAR?"  Ahhh..such good memories, huh?

Today you may start out playing the "my little eyes" game but today's children are at a huge disadvantage aren't they.  They are buckled into a chair that is reminiscent of torture devices that prevent them from half hanging out the window to find the object that is being spied upon.  No more laying in the back deck above the rear seat to check out the license plates for the bingo game.  Thank goodness, they have been strapped down since infancy and don't recognize the fact they are extremely uncomfortable. 

BUT as luck would have it...technology has compensated.  Now the dual screen DVR player loaded with Disney movies lures your little ones into a video induced car coma.  Bliss, pure bliss...for both the driver and the little passengers.

However there is a caveat. Twice in the week during their stay with grandma, I needed to take hubby to the airport.  This is our life..driving to and from the Kansas City airport so grandpa can travel hither and yon. The problem is that the Kansas City airport was built in the middle of nowhere to accommodate all the little towns in the middle of the country.  So while it is an hour north of  where I live, it's quite handy for the people in southern Iowa.

Knowing that children would be in the mix for this week's airport runs, I had to make sure there was a  decent movie line up for my vehicle's DVRs.(quit shaking your head...I realize this is another First World problem)  In preparation for the trip,  I give great thought to what movies might hold their attention for 2 hours.  This would of worked out really well except for the fact, Disney animated movies only last about 1.5 hours.  By the time I am 20 minutes from home, the movie has ended and we can't play any "look out the window" games...because it's dark out in the middle of nowhere.  Damn the Disney company for not developing special DVDs that last 12 hours at a pop for long trips.  Modern parenting is so complicated.

Thought Number Two:  Wrangling the Chaos

Of course, I have plenty of opportunity to see close up how my daughter and her family go about their daily routines.  Very impressive, if I say so myself, how they seem to manage a complicated schedule for two little boys that go to two different schools and both working parents work that outside the home.  They make it look easy.  Turns out it isn't...at least not when I am in charge.

I would say the getting them up, clean, sweet smelling, fed and out the door and on time to school is the easy part.  Dealing with any situation that involves other parents...TOTAL NIGHTMARE.

First morning out, I arrive at the grade school with 10 minutes to spare before the first bell rings to find cars lined up a full block back from the school.  The one way circle drive is stacked two-wide with moms that are all but shoving kids out of  "seemingly still moving" vehicles. There is a sense of urgency in the allotted time allowed for kiddos to get out.  I, however, am a novice and am not entirely comfortable at thrusting my little grandson out the door like a bag of trash tossed onto the curb. There is the added component that I am taking care of someone elses children. Maybe there would of been a time with my own kids that I would of come to a rolling stop and yelled " Last person to hit the pavement is a rotten egg" but I am overly cautious with my grandkids.

 The mom behind me was having none of it. My lack of urgency wasn't to her liking.  It didn't escape my notice as she passed me in the "unloading" lane that she gave me the evil eye.  I probably cost her an extra 3 minutes in her busy day. I am assuming it would be really bad form to flip off a mommy at the grade school so I just pretend I am senile and hope that people blame the dementia for any infractions on my part.

Speaking of  BUSY...as the week progressed, I had a chance to talk to quite a few mommies at the soccer game, swim lessons, preschool etc. and there seems to be a shift in what mommies talk about in 2014 as opposed to the early 1980s.  No longer do they talk about recipes or what's new at the mall they talk about how busy they are at work and how tired they are.

Oh...don't get me wrong.  I am sure they are tired.  I was exhausted and I was only on day 5.  How parents work the type of jobs they have today and still manage all that goes with modern parenting is absolutely beyond my comprehension.  Still it's interesting to listen in on the conversation.

It appears that whenever a group of women congregate the conversation at some point goes to the number of hours of sleep each person  in the group had the prior night. 

Tired woman A.  " I only got 5 hours of sleep last night!"
Tired woman B " I haven't had 5 hours of sleep since little Jason was born."
Tired woman C. "I haven't had 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep in 10 years." 
Woman D.         " I try to get 8 hours every night."

At this point all conversation stops and every one in the group sends a variety of looks varying from disgust to pity.  (The group is concluding that  any woman getting 8 hours of sleep is failing short in some important way.) 

As the interloper among the group, I wouldn't dare mention that while I may or may not sleep well, it's not because, of my unmanageable schedule or my hectic pace.  It's because I am on Team Grandparents and my time is my own.  Yay team!

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chubby chatterbox said...

It's been years since i was responsible for a small child. It would take me a long time to get back into the rhythm of it. And I probably don't have the energy anymore.

Lady Jewels Diva said...

I am yet to experience children, let alone grand children, but did look after nephews when they were younger, and so was I, and it was tiring then and I was still a kid myself.

Wolfbernz said...

Hi Cheryl,
I often wonder how we were able to run a full remodeling/construction business and still take care of 3 kids. Finding balance between work, home, farming, and their activities (boy scouts, swimming, tennis, horseback riding, etc) is a serious challenge and I'm not sure I would be up for it... correction I'm just not up to the task anymore.
As much as I enjoy when my Grandson visits, I sometimes really enjoy the quiet when he goes back to his daddy's.

Cheryl P. said...

I am here to tell you it doesn't get easier as one ages...or at least taking care of other peoples kids because you aren't in a rhythm with them. I do think when it's your own children, you are so in the routine it's more natural. It may be tiring but certainly easier.

Cheryl P. said...

Time changes everything, doesn't it Wolf? I agree that it's hard to remember that we too had full time jobs, busy children with lots of activities but then it seems that a lot of things were less competitive and not quite so involved. Saturday morning, my 6 year old grandson got sent off the field because the cleats on his soccer shoes had a cleat near the toe. Luckily one of the other moms had an extra pair of old soccer shoes that we borrowed for the game. Who kicks a kindergartner off the field because of the brand of shoe. SSSHHHEEESH..our world is nutso.

Riot Kitty said...

Your bar graph is too true! Of course, that didn't stop my little sister from inventing the idea that my little brother (who is always on his ipod) was somehow in her space in the backseat. (She is a born drama queen.)

How you raised kids and babysit grandkids is beyond me. I have a hard enough time keeping track of two cats. Who really should be claimed as dependents, IMHO.

Wendy said...

Yes, that 'some EE card ' has it right. My fifth son had it so easy compared to the first one( as he frequently points out!). With each child, we get so much more relaxed because we have more understanding of the maxim- this stage will pass. I try to tell that to mothers with young children, but they listen as well as I did at their stage. I too am overly cautious with my grandchild. I think that is what is so tiring, Cheryl. I care for my granddaughter one day a week, she is now 2 1/2. Now, I know for sure I did not 'helicopter' around my sons like I do her. But, as I said to my husband, her first stitches are NOT going to be on my watch! Also, with one's own children, we understood their strengths and limitations much better. We weren't concerned because we inherently knew when they were fine and simply challenging themselves, and when they were getting into trouble. The vigilance with grandchildren is tiring. At first, I almost went to bed as soon as she went home! Yet, I know several woman who carried onward having children into their mid-forties (as in 8 children) and as you say, when in the pool of chaos, it seems normal. Although, I am sure those mothers you were chatting with surely wish there was a N-AP for sleep. (clever, very clever). As for the driving, I confess I rather prefer the no technology side of it. As I often told my boys, learning to deal with one another in a non-combative way is a core essential skill for your future life as a mature adult male. Long road trips tested that skill! Love Pic of you and hubby- I'll bet you two make a great Team Grandparents!

Cheryl P. said...

That is too funny about your little brother and sister. Doesn't every family have a drama queen (or king as the case may be)

I guess the joy of having kids and grandkids, is the big tradeoff for any tiredness, or stress or anything else that presents itself. The great thing about kids is they come to most of us as infants and they are too naive to figure out we suck. By the time they are toddlers and start seeing us as their parents, we might of learned at least some of the basics. By the time they are teens, they realize they are way smarter than us anyway, so our job is done. (according to them).

As for cats...I think that is a great idea. I want to deduct all of Carmen's medical bills as well.

Cheryl P. said...

I only had two children and I will say there was a vast difference in my comfort level with the second child. It really does take some time to develop your parenting skills. While the first child may feel that the younger children got by with more, the fact is that the older child got utter devotion and had mommy all to himself/herself for a period of time. Subsequent children always had to share parents with siblings.

I agree that there is a difference in the fact it isn't your child. It's your child's child and therefore they have their own ideas and approaches to how things are handled. My husband and I have said the same thing as you...kids are naturally going to get hurt but they need to not do at on my watch.

There is also the factor that as a grandparent we want them to have a loving, fun environment. I know there has to be a measure of discipline so I am not suggesting that I would let them misbehave but I try to keep things light and breezy here. Grandma and grandpa's house should be a place they really enjoy coming to.

I think I have done a couple of posts about women even in their 50s having babies. The very thought of it nearly makes me crave a nap. There is a certain appeal to having a large family but I would of had to do it when I was young and energetic. (and I mean young like in my twenties) I was 38 when my daughter left for college and I was starting to lose my stamina by then (sort of kidding.)

In the car...on short trips like when I pick them up from school, I like to talk. They can tell me about their day or sing me a song but on those long trips.....when they get bored and tired of sitting, I like the distraction for them to watch the DVRs. Especially on the trips that I am driving solo as is the case from the airport. Nothing good comes from fussing kids fighting or crying when there is nothing that can be done. (short of stopping the car) I will say that our grandkids are very used to traveling and seldom cause problems in the car but watching a movie all but guarantees a quiet ride.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

They say you lose one hour of energy per day for every decade you've been alive. That's probably why you notice the difference between now and 20 years ago when you had toddlers around.

Cheryl P. said...

No doubt that age plays a role but the other part is that I now have had years and years of doing what ever the hell I want, whenever I want to do it. When I ocassionaly have to stay on my toes and be viligent, it seems to take some effort. That and the fact, that a 3 year old is like the Energizer Bunny..they just keep going and going and going.

lisleman said...

Energy levels certainly do change. I guess I should not bring up that three letter word, "old".

lisleman said...

You make a good point about the car seats and being more confined. Singing to the radio or CD is still fun. I'm still not certain of the DVD/video babysitter in the car trick. I enjoy playing with them for awhile - but taking the controls for even a full day, I'll pass if I can.

Cheryl P. said...

I occasionally feel badly on the longer trips when they are so confined to a car seat. We make multiple stops for breaks when we travel with the little guys. On any trip we do interact with them and don't just use DVDs exclusively but on longer or boring trips, it does make the time more pleasurable for them to watch a movie.

I love having them here even for a week at a time but I do notice I have far less energy with them than I had with my own kids. The trade off is I have FAR more patience. Nothing they do annoys me.

Cheryl P. said...

You can say the word "old" here. You are among friends. We don't judge...especially given the fact that some of us (meaning me) are old.

Linda R. said...

I grew up without car seats or even seat belts, which I do wear nowadays. Times are definitely different, though. I'm sure the DVD players are invaluable, but I can't imagine watching a movie while on a car trip as a child. Too much to see, and I have pleasant memories of long car rides.

Cheryl P. said...

As with all technology you have to pick and choose the appropriate time. On the way back from the airport in the dark,. I wanted the kids entertained so I could concentrate on my driving. If I am in the car with my husband driving and there are interesting things to see and talk to the little ones about the DVD players wouldn't be turned on. I suspect if we used them all the time they wouldn't feel like a treat anyway.

I thoroughly agree that some of my best childhood memories were taking trips in the car and seeing exciting places. I did a post a long time ago about how my dad would wake me up in the middle of the night as we crossed over the Mississippi River in Cairo, Ill on the way to my grandparents house in Arkansas. I still think the Mississippi is fun to see.

Wendy said...

I so agree that we want the grandparent's house to be a place they enjoy coming to. When I put my granddaughter in the car, she gets her white bear, her brown bear, her Dora and her toy cell phone that makes music. And her blanket too! ANything to keep her happy! Actually, she is use to the car, far more than my boys were. She travels to places a lot in a car. Her mom gives her an iphone to play a dora video while driving back home after her long day at work. I agree, nothing good comes from fussing or fighting children, especially when they are tired. It wouldn't surprise me that many an accident happen in the 'old days' when the driver reached back with a hand to stop the action, or took their eyes off the road. I really think grandchildren are the best bonus given to us in older age, aren't they? They remind us with their energy, giggles and silliness that life is to enjoy, for the pure fun of it.

Jo-Anne said...

This nanna takes her grandson to school every day and she picks him up every day and he sleeps over here one night a week and I can tell you it is exhausting but I do love it

Lovebeingagrandpa said...

YAY..TEAM GRANDPARENTS!!!!! Love the post, love the "G" boys and their parents and uncle.....blessings all around.....and of course LOVE a good night's sleep....Great Post...Missing all.

Cheryl P. said...

I in total agreement with everything you said. As a grandparent I am more about loving them and being supportive of their parents and less about being stern and less concerned about being too permissive. If they want their blankies or favorite toy....I am just the girl to make it happen.

Our grandsons also are so used to traveling that it is second nature to them. I totally understand your daughter-in-law needing her little one occupied on the way home. I remember way back when my own little ones were in the back seat fussing...hard to concentrate on driving when your child is crying. Now when I resort to the DVDs, what I hear each and every time from the 3 year old is "Grandma this is so funny". He says it at the same place in the movie each and every time...the part never gets old for him.

Cheryl P. said...

Compared to you, Jo-Anne, I am a total slacker. I need to nap after reading about some of your days. You're family should kiss the ground you walk on for all you do.

Cheryl P. said...

Yeh, as teams go...it's a great one to be on. Who are you kidding? You could sleep through a bomb. Is there such a thing as a bad nights sleep in your world? It's the getting up at 4:30 when you don't have to that seems more than a bit odd.

Linda R. said...

I always enjoy seeing the Mississippi, too. I stood on a bridge and watched it flowing through Minnesota, and took a paddle boat ride on it in Louisiana.

AletaObrien said...

Oh my gosh, I remember those days! Sitting in the back seat on long car rides and playing, “I spy” and looking through the backseat window, waving to the 18-wheelers, hoping they would honk the horns. I didn’t even think about it, but yes, you are right… no seatbelts back then! Maybe that’s why I detest wearing them now, but I do.

And yes, my son has the 5 point seatbeat, facing the back. Poor heart sees everything as it’s leaving. He has to be in that position for two years. Do
you think kids learn a sense of direction that early on? If so, the kids for his generation are screwed. They’ll be walking backwards to places.

I have to admit that I like being a stay at home mom. I wouldn’t be tossing the kids out the door, even if I had a job though.
Talk about giving a kid a complex.

Ok, (whispers and raising hand slightly)… I’m guilty. I talk about lack of sleep too. Gregory is teething with back molars. It’s killing both of us!

Cheryl P. said...

I always hated the time the kids were in the rear facing position because when they need a binky or something you can't see them, let alone reach them. I wouldn't think of letting my grandson's in the car without the proper seats but they do seem confining. Of course, the kids are used to them and don't know the difference. When does Gregory get to use the front facing seat? It's been long enough that I don't remember. Our 3 year old has been in his current seat quite awhile.
You and I have that in common, Aleta. I quick working outside the home for a period of time when my kids were little. I went back to work when they were in late grade school. (part time until late junior high..then full time)
There are gives and takes to being a stay at home mom but the good for me outweighed the bad.
There is a frenzy that goes with most things dealing with kids and time requirements that didn't seem so urgent when I was a young mom. I do think that moms are busier and I am not judgeing them for it. I never had to keep up their pace. BUT with that being said..drop off at school is scary. Cars double, triple and still moving unloading with a urgency that would lend itself to an emergency drill of some sort.
I don't really fault moms for talking about the lack of sleep. I had a talki with my daughter after I posted this post and she shrugged her short nights as "doable" and "no big deal". If I had only 4 or 5 hours of sleep night after night I would be discussing it too....too anyone that would listen.

Robyn Engel said...

Keep rockin' Team Grandparents, Cheryl. You earned it and did your time. Some things were harder back then too - like there weren't dvd players in cars to watch movies. Roadtrips involved another layer of hell.

You're inspiring me to jump for glory about being on team Auntie-Nonparent. It really is the best.

Loved your comment about my phone obsessed date. Thank you.


Cheryl P. said...

Hi Robyn, Yes, there was a special kind of hell when taking long trips with toddlers back in the day. We have always lived at least 8-12 hours from the Chicago area (the area where most of our family is). We use to play games, sing songs. pray for little ones to nap and still there was the inevitable "when are we going to be there?" or "I have to potty." Both lines were repeated about every 15 minutes or so.

I love that you are on Team Auntie. Every child needs a favorite auntie to be the "cool" person that makes things fun. My kids had one when they were growing up and she is still is around to bring her shenanigans to Team Great-Auntie. That particular aunt has taken up spoiling my grandkids. Yay for Team Auntie (and Team Uncle, too.)

abeerfortheshower said...

The torture device chair thing made me laugh out loud. I don't know how kids tolerate being in those things.

I remember when I was a kid and we'd take long, long road trips. There was no TV in the back. The radio barely worked. We didn't even have AC in my mom's old car. The car had seatbelts, but often I'd just sleep so I'd be sprawled out in the back seat.

And somehow we always got there without me complaining. Or me being injured. Was it a miracle? Was I just a really good kid? Honestly, I have no idea.

Cheryl P. said...

I guess today's kids adapt to the car seats as they can't leave the hospital after birth without getting into a car seat that has been inspected and OKd. Maybe after being cooped up in a womb for 9 months, the car seat doesn't feel so bad.

While I am way older than you, I had pretty much the same experience. Nothing automatic of any sort in the car, No air conditioner for sure. My brother and I either laid on the seat or the back ledge on long trips. Never was injured although we were threatened with bodily injury from time to time if we didn't quiet down.

My money is on the fact you were a really nice little boy because my brother and I were pretty well behaved kids and we managed to get into the "he's hogging the seat" or "she's touching me". We made the 12 hour trip to my grandparents house at least 6 times a year and it didn't get more interesting as time went on.

L.C. Griffith said...

Oh my goodness! I loved this post. I was just considering moving out of state so that when my daughter has a litter I won't be considered for the position of resident babysitter. Yes, I'm that lazy.
You had me in stitches with some of the scenarios. Too funny!

Cheryl P. said...

While I admit that it does take a bit of work, you can have a lot of fun with grandkids as well. You get to bend the rules...OK BREAK the rules regarding good parenting and then send them home. And kids say the funniest things. Our little 3 year old's preschool teacher just had a baby, whom he refers to as Courtney's Princess Isabelle. (Courtney is the teacher's name...we aren't sure why he thinks her baby is a princess) Now he is convinced that he, too has a baby in his belly. Every time he has an ache or pain, it's because of the baby in his belly. At 3 years old, I guess we aren't going to delve into the simantics of it.

Katherine Murray said...

I think I enjoyed this post more than any others you have written!!! Ahhh the young child days...! I still do the drop off at school... Catholic private school... and the parking lot school police are ALWAYS watching you. When I read this, "I am assuming it would be really bad form to flip off a mommy at the
grade school so I just pretend I am senile and hope that people blame
the dementia for any infractions on my part." I LAUGHED OUTLOUD. OH SO MANY TIMES have I wanted to flip the bird. But I gotta be nice till the kids are out of these schools... so I play the game.

My parents drove me (second grade), my brother (fourth grade), a huge dalmatian, a full fish tank and all kinds of junk ACROSS COUNTRY ... making their way UP to CANADA just to check it out.... No electronics.. just an am/fm radio and US. I don't know HOW they survived!

Cheryl P. said...

You poor thing having to fight the parking lot of a school during drop off or pick up. I do remember the days...although I have done my best to try to forget. As a grandma, I can pretend to be "confused". Oh, the moms will still hate me but they probably wouldn't actually do bodily harm to me. Sort of like getting a pass when you have out of state plates and appear lost.

OMG...As if traveling with kids isn't horrible enough back in the day before electronic diversions, there was a dog and a fish tank???? I can't even imagine. ***shudder***. Did your parents by chance have a prescription to Valium? Was Valium even available? Oh wait...after that trip did your parents invent Valium????

The Blue Grumpster said...

After awhile you adapt and don't notice that you have hypothermia... That's funny, tough as parenting must be. The evil eye... I just don't get it. Why is everyone so impatient these days? The way I see it, too much is about quantity rather than quality. But I'm blue, so what do I know?

Cheryl P. said...

Hi Blue Grumpster, It's always so fun to see a new name here in the comments. Yeah, parenting can be difficult at times but depending on which hour of what day, there are a lot of variables. One minute "AWWW, aren't you sweet?" but 10 minutes later "I suggest you start running NOW!"

Thank God, I was in the car line at the grade school because if I was in the Starbucks line or the McDonald's line not moving fast enough to suit the surrounding busy-busy people, there would be hand gestures and horns in play.

I agree about the lack of patience today. Everyone needs everything at lightening speeds.. I would say you know a lot...perhaps being blue makes one wiser than the rest of us non-blue types.