As my regular readers already know, I have three beautiful grandchildren. My older granddaughter is 6; I refer to her as Sparkle. Her 2-year-old little sister is Twinkle, and their cousin, an 18-month-old boy, is Shine. They are my little stars.
I am fortunate because I live close to all three and get to see them often. On rare occasions, they all come at one time to play at my house. Although these children are perfect in every way, taking care of all three is more challenging than you might think. I will describe for you a typical half-hour period in such a day.
Know that I have planned and prepared in advance for the invasion. I am dressed in comfortable clothes and shoes. I have confirmed that my house is childproofed, with no dangerous knives, broken glass, prescription medicines, or pesticides lying carelessly about. I have the TV tuned to either Nick Jr or Sprout, for the kids’ viewing pleasure, and I have on hand their preferred food and drink items: grape juice, apple juice, chocolate milk, Goldfish Crackers, canned pasta, applesauce, Honey Nut Cheerios, macaroni and cheese and yogurt in a tube. Toys have been placed within easy access for them, and I have taken my anti-anxiety medication.
The troop enters and there is a flurry of hugs and kisses. Sparkle has brought to show me a large, colorful, paper turkey she has made in kindergarten. Shine plows through the crowd and claims rights to the jigsaw puzzles that he loves. Twinkle announces, “Grandma, I stink.”
After changing the dirty diaper and spraying Febreze throughout the house, I sit on the floor and help Shine put in place a particularly stubborn puzzle piece. I am distracted from this activity, however, because I notice that Twinkle has engaged herself in systematically pulling out the tail feathers of her big sister’s paper turkey. I rescue the bird, hasten to find some glue to patch it up before Sparkle sees that it has been violated, and hear Twinkle demanding chocolate milk. Carrying the turkey with me, I go to the kitchen to pour the milk. Sparkle enters the room and declares, “Grandma! I have a wonderful idea! Let’s get all of your boxes of Christmas decorations out of the garage and decorate the whole house. WHAT HAPPENED TO MY TURKEY?”
In the meantime, Twinkle has opened and begun playing with the My Little Ponies that her sister Sparkle declares are for her only. Sparkle, in retribution for her sister’s kidnapping of her ponies, gets out the Peppa Pig house, which is Twinkle’s favorite toy. She approaches Twinkle, holding aloft Peppa Pig and singing the theme song from the TV show. Twinkle cries out, “That’s mine’s,” throws down the ponies and tackles her big sister. Shine has a toy hammer in his hand and is studying the glass-fronted curio cabinet.
I pull Shine away from the curio cabinet and separate the squabbling girls. Sparkle asks to play on the computer so I set her up with ABC Mouse online and swiftly take away from Twinkle the end of the roll of toilet paper she is dragging from the bathroom. I then start winding up the white streamer that goes from the bathroom, down the hallway, though the living room, and into the kitchen. Shine begins crying because he needs a nap so I put him in his Pack-and-Play, which prompts him to cry harder. Sparkle yells, “Grandma, the “pa-cuter” isn’t working right, and when are you going to bring in the Christmas decorations? Twinkle pulls all of my pots and pans out of the kitchen cabinet and is using them as drums and cymbals.
The day eventually ends, and the parents come to retrieve the little angels. I report that we have enjoyed a fun-filled day and that I am looking forward to their next visit. My house is strewn with toys, my back is aching, and my shirt is splattered with pasta sauce and pink yogurt. There is no doubt about it. I have been played.