There is a reason why young people have babies. When I am feeling particularly masochistic, I agree, against my better judgement, to keep my darling grandchildren for longer than a few hours. Like childbirth, we maternal types forget the last traumatic experience and jump in before reason has a chance to stop us.
I love my grandchildren. I do. But my latest foray reminded me that I am way out of practice when it comes to herding toddlers.
My daughter had left me the keys to the kid mobile, a huge suv, fully equipped with car seats and a stroller for two, so I could take the kiddos somewhere fun on Saturday. Me. Alone. Saturday. In a strange city. The weather was a concern, but if it rained we could always do an inside activity like a movie. First mistake, letting that idea slip, out loud, within earshot of the older one. Certain things find their way through the ear canals of kids, lodging deep inside their brain to be replayed over and over. It doesn’t matter what else is happening. This slip of the tongue would haunt me.
When the sun came out I decided that the zoo sounded like a fun place to wear them out for a few hours. Second mistake, never underestimate the battery life of toddlers on sugar. Third mistake, sugar. But I digress. The zoo it was. However, I would be reminded several times that there was a movie somewhere that we needed to see.
To get the show on the road I had to risk the dangers of leaving them alone, unsupervised while I took a shower. It was a risk I was willing to take. And it could have been worse. The climber found a stash of chocolate that had been stored “out of reach”. But there were no cuts, broken bones, broken anything for that matter…and no attempted escapes, at least that I am aware of. Getting them dressed presented its own challenges. What to wear, what to wear? “Why get dressed now? The movie isn’t until after lunch time.” The movie. Focus Grandma…we’re going to the zoo.
We got loaded into the suv and I plugged the address into my handy GPS. My girl Siri would get us to the zoo and home again. Whatever did we do before modern technology? Easy peasy…Siri guided me through the twists and turns and proudly announced “You have Arrived” just as I was pulling OUT of the zoo parking area, which was already filled to capacity. Forced to find street parking about half a mile away I rejected the urge to forgo the zoo altogether and settle on the movie. It was a nice day. After a few hours, the kids would be worn out, and ready for a nap. (see Mistake #2)
After a few hours the kids were NOT worn out, but Grandma was. It didn’t help that the lovely stroll downhill, that I didn’t happen to notice on the way into the zoo, was now my nemesis. And I wasn’t the only one huffing and puffing toward the entrance (aka exit). I was however the only one with TWO children in a stroller, who liked to drag their feet on the ground. We all made it by sheer determination…just a 1/2 mile more to go. Beautiful SUV! I was a wet, wilted mess but we had made it, with a few minutes to spare on the meter! I got everyone loaded, blasted the air conditioning and headed down the road for what I hoped would be an equally non-eventful hop skip and jump back to the house.
With Siri as my co-pilot I managed to find and navigate the first major intersection…check and turn…change lanes…okay Siri…I got this…and turn. And then…things got a little dicey. Construction detours complicated what should have been a quick trip home. Especially when you miss detour turns, Siri can have a meltdown and start rapid-fire repeating random street names that are not even in the vicinity. And I am certain that the tone of her voice changes when you don’t follow her directions. I plunged into a dizzying cycle of missing turns and waiting for one way detour passage only to repeat the process back and forth and then back and forth a few times more! I hid my face with each subsequent pass so the construction flag wavers wouldn’t recognize me, but they knew…they knew. “Mommy” is a much better driver than you Grandma.” After missing a final turn, I had to do a u-turn to right my direction, that took me 6 miles out of my way only to find that I had been driving in circles about a mile from the house the whole time!
Home sweet home. I grabbed a few aspirin, got the kiddos lunch, plopped on the couch and enlisted the assistance of Sponge Bob to calm the natives. “When are we going to the movies Grandma?” Um…sorry guys. Grandma needs a nap! And nap I did with one eye open so I could monitor my two charges as they wore off the affects of the sugary ice cream treats from our trip to the zoo hours earlier!
But later in the evening it only took minutes to get my darlings settled for bed and off to dreamland. A far cry from the previous night’s ritual that included baths, allowing for sufficient splash play time, teeth brushing, finding pj’s that met the approval of my budding fashionistas, story time…three stories, tuck in time and finally a few rounds of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” to seal the deal. Sometime between midnight and dawn they found their way down to where I was…so I figured I’d cut out a few steps in the process and we’d do a “camp out” on the sectional sofa from the get go. I’m a quick study.
Next morning…call me crazy, I decided to venture out again, this time to the park. My daughter had given me the park’s name which I dutifully entered into my GPS. Only there was this one little thing…the park’s name was also the name of a nearby village. When Siri told me I “Had Arrived” in the middle of Main Street, I knew I was in trouble! But not daunted! I did a quick Google search (Google has NEVER let me down…sorry Siri) for the nearest park and without much ado we were skipping toward swings and a play fountain.
I am a determined, crazy Grandma. Why do I do it? Risk life and limb to have fun activities with my little loves? Because every now and again, one of those cherub faces with big blue-green eyes looks directly into my eyes and says, “I love you Grandma.” My heart melts, and I realize I still have a bit of that rock star mom mojo left. You can call me “Super Grandma”. Yeah, I’ve earned it!