Erin's Journals

Monday, February 26, 2024

Just a thought… My grandchildren believe I’m the oldest thing in the world. After two or three hours with them, I believe it too. [Gene Perret]

I’m writing you in the midst of hosting a seven-night Banana Camp.

Send supplies:

    • Four Crates of Sleep

    • A Costco-sized Flat of Energy Reserves

    • A Backpack of Patience

Thank you.

Last week our grandkids’ mom, Brooke, and her husband had to fly back to Ontario to attend to family matters; it’s our opportunity to attend to theirs here.

Wednesday of last week, the kids had their first of seven sleep-overs. Just to remind you, Colin is now nine years old, while Jane is four-going-on-fourteen. Both are great kids: well-behaved and good humoured, loving and compatible with each other. And they both go-go-go from about 7 am until they drop at 9 pm.

In between a ball hockey play date and a Lego museum visit, a theatre movie and numerous TV baseball and hockey games, the kids have kept themselves busy between meals with playing, arguing occasionally (mostly about made-up rules for made-up games) and creating piles of laundry.

Add to the cacophony a third dog – their Sammy – and we have controlled chaos as well as reminders every hour why humans usually become parents in our twenties and thirties, when our energy reserves are easily double.

Grandparenting is a whole different level of joy, fatigue – and yes – of stress. There are rules to learn and try to adhere to, years of parenting experience that both help and hinder, and the dance of making sure the kids are being spoiled, but not so badly that their parents will have days of de-Banana-ing ahead of them!

I do have to share with you an email my podcast partner Lisa Brandt and I got from a listener named Pauline. If it hadn’t come from someone we trust, I would think it was some internet hoax. But we’ve written back and forth with Pauline, and this is legit. Be careful you don’t get whiplash from shaking your head so hard. Here we go:

Lois is over 70 and her son at 45 married recently and they will be having a baby girl next month. As you can imagine Lois is counting the days when she can hop on a plane and visit the family when her granddaughter arrives. Before she arrives, however, she was given a list of do’s and don’ts.

    1. No kissing the baby for the first 6 months.

    2. She is not to say the baby is cute or beautiful or make a comment on any physical attributes the baby might have. They will raise this child to focus on her mental abilities and not her physical looks. They made it clear this is the only way to raise a daughter in a ‘man’s world’.

    3. This child will not be watching television nor grow up with a cell phone.

    4. Lois is not to make suggestions or give advice on how to raise this child or old fashioned talks on ‘how it was done in her day’… as they have read all the books.

    5. Lois is not to direct questions to the new mother as she will be too busy with the baby. All questions i.e. ‘where’s the coffee mugs?’ are to be directed to her son. He will be around during this visit to answer any questions Lois may have. and the list went on….

I won’t lie – we encountered at least one rule from our own daughter that made us roll our eyes so hard we couldn’t see straight for days. (That rule was rescinded in fairly short order.)

To Lois and anyone else facing declarations from new parents, my only advice is to smile and nod and do your best. It’s always the best approach if somehow you screw up and inadvertently test the limits. Keeping peace and bonds between you and your children and grandchildren is always the most important thing.

Footnote: last week I mentioned the contents of this email to an acquaintance with a four-month-old strapped to her chest. She said no, she’d never heard of the “no kissing” rule, but said that she and her husband had not read one book about parenting and were doing it by heart. In a time of parents doing things according to the latest book, going back to instincts seems a revolutionary stance! But as long as the kids are loved, well-fed and cared-for (which includes fully vaccinated), isn’t that truly the most important part of parenting?

One More Footnote (or feetnote, now that we’ve got two): Carly said she has lost count of how many times she’s been offered Domperidone, the drug that our daughter was taking in her efforts to help her nurse Colin when her heart stopped. Carly thinks of us every time. Please talk to your nursing daughters about its potentially dangerous side effects.

Rob WhiteheadMonday, February 26, 2024