Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Six Universal Laws of Vacationing with Grandchildren

I recently spent a week with three grandchildren ages two, four and six. Some of what I observed happened so frequently and consistently, I believe they must demonstrate basic truths of spending time with small children. I share them with you in the hope that you will benefit from my experience.

UL #1: Do not plan on sleeping in. Young children wake up fully wound up and ready to go. They do not need an alarm clock, wake-up call, or reason to get up early. Good luck with finding the time to brush your teeth and using the bathroom. If you're looking for a place to rent to vacation with small grandchildren, your first question should be, "Do the bathrooms have locks?"

UL #2: You cannot, under any circumstances, buy enough food. So you went to the store and bought enough food for a small city. Tomorrow you will need something else--not just anything else--something of unnatural importance, something you cannot be without, like air. The second question you should ask, "Is there a large grocery store nearby that is well stocked?"

UL #3: There are never enough adults. We had three adults and three children. The adults were hopelessly outnumbered. For one-half of a day we had five adults--that was a little better. No matter how many adults, the following will still happen: the two year old will disappear, he will climb somewhere the adults consider dangerous, he will run naked. The older children will crave your attention at the same time, will crave something to eat, drink, do, or watch. There will be moments when none of the adults will know where they are or what they are doing.  

UL #4: Grandmothers are indispensable. Grandfathers are fairly useless unless given a specific task by the aformentioned grandmother. Suggestion--if you're a grandfather without a wife--borrow, rent, kidnap, somehow find one to take along. Out of respect to other grandfathers out there, this may be my own personal law. You might have that innate ability to know what needs to be done and how to do it. I am missing that gene.

UL #5: PBS Kids is the best baby sitter when you need a few minutes to prepare a meal or take a break. All of the PBS Kids shows have a calming effect and teach things like words and numbers. I suspect PBS Kids has some kind of tricky thingamabob that sends out hypnotic rays from your TV screen to hypnotize kids six and under. I don't care. The peace it brings is better than a glass of wine. Two glasses of wine.

UL #6: A vacation with grandchildren is never as bad as Rules 1-5 make it sound. We played together, the two year old fell asleep in my arms, I held the four year old in my lap as we talked, and had some enlightening conversations with the six year old. I will cherish that week for a long time. And now I am wiser for next year. Of course they will be a year older and I'm sure will have a few new things to teach me.

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