Once a month, the five youngest grandchildren spend the night.
The older two spent their nights with Papa and Gigi and have now moved to the land of teenagers, where the elderly are on the totem pole. The father complains that the teenagers don’t talk much; apparently he doesn’t remember when we were that age, we didn’t talk to anyone who wasn’t cool either. I’m sure our teenagers will come back when they realize that older people really do know “stuff” and ask their grandparents for advice.
The two 9 year old boys and the 4, 5 and 6 year old girls give me so much fun that I have to take a nap the next day. Until recently, the boys did their thing and the girls spent quality time playing with the babies, although once the weather warmed up and we were able to go outside to play, they’ve discovered that there are lots of things all five of them can do together
On this last night, the hot temperatures kept us inside until after dinner. Speaking of dinner, a couple of months ago I made a buffet of standard foods: chicken nuggets, french fries, applesauce and macaroni and cheese, and told them to help themselves. It was a huge hit, and as I watched the boys help the girls get their plates of food, I was so impressed that I let everyone have as much ice cream as they ordered. Afterward, only one in five had a stomach ache, so I again considered it a success.
Even though their parents don’t think the kids behave well at our house, it’s true. They are nice to each other and, especially important, they are nice to me and Papa. I tell my adult children that it doesn’t matter how they behave at home; if they are good when at someone else’s house, your parenting methods are working.
While playing a round of ping pong, the boys discovered some old jewelry in the basement and I made them believe that the cubic zirconia rings were real diamonds. They hit the gold mine when I told them they could take one home. The girls found old trophies that their mothers had given them (participation trophies, no less) and set about packing them into their suitcases to take home.
The oldest of the five decided he was going to catch a catfish in the pond, whatever it was. He enticed the girls to throw catfish food off the dock while he was in position (waist-deep) with a large net. We stayed out past dark and once the girls got tired of baiting the fish they pretended to be in the driveway watching a movie in the Gigi Van. The other 9-year-old set out to try and catch a bullfrog, and when all was said and done, the only thing they came out with was the need to shower.
I’m counting down the days until next night. They are my reset button when I think society is trying to make me lose my mind.
Sandy Turner is a mother, grandmother, former janitor, and retired journalist living in Missouri who writes a weekly column about home, family relationships, and staying positive during tough times.