Deareat Madame Bitters,
I'm 63 and the proud grandmother of three wonderful grandchildren. "Kaleb," is five and twins "Karmen" and "Kasey" are four. Their father, "Steve" is my son. Steve and my daughter in law both work full time and I take care of my grandchildren while they work. One of them drops the kids off at 8 am and one of them picks the kids up around 6 pm. This is the routine Monday-Friday. Now, I love my grandkids, but they're running me ragged. They bounce off the walls and are always into everything. They're good, sweet kids but they're driving me crazy. I know I shouldn't feel this way about my own grandchildren, but I do. What can I do to cope?
Overwhelmed Grandma- Chatanooga, TN.
If there's one thing that brings joy into the heart of Madame Bitters it's the sound of happy children playing. Except when they're playing in front of my home when I'm trying to sleep it off. At those times I wish I had a 17th century well in my backyard that I could throw those kids down. But I digress.
Your son and daughter in law are inconsiderate clods, but they're certainly not stupid. They know a good thing when they find it and that's free childcare from the best relative for the job: Grandma.
You see, your son is under the impression that since he grew up and left home you must be lonely and need someone to take care of; someone to break your stuff and a reason for you to consider buying a firearm. A replacement, if you will.
Lucky for you he and his wife have given you three "replacements," and it sounds like they're doing a fine job of making you nuts. Steve thinks you're bored and that you're grateful for the 50 hour a week distraction. But we both know better, don't we?
You can do one of two things. You could stand up to your son and his better half and tell them that you refuse to be taken advantage of anymore. Tell them that you've got your own life to live and it doesn't involve hyperactive, spactic grandkids. However, since we both know you're a spineless jellyfish or things wouldn't have gotten to this point, let's explore the second option.
Run your grandkids as ragged as they've ran you. Take them to the park, playground or public pool if the weather cooperates. It doesn't matter so much where you take them as long as it's a place where they can run, shout and wear themselves out. It may take hours for them to do this, so make sure to bring a book.
If you need something that's physically demanding done around your house, tell the grandkids how fun it is. For instance, if you're planning to install a new septic tank, have the grandkids dig the hole. You wouldn't need to do much convincing because kids love to dig holes. Just use your imagination to make any hard labor seem like a "game."
What about if the weather's too bad to go outside? That's easy: drug them. When it's time for their cookies and juice, feel free mix in a bit of vodka for a "kiddie screwdriver." When they eat pudding or yogurt, add some crushed up Benedryl to it. In less than twenty minutes they'll be fast asleep facedown in the tapioca.
It makes no difference if it's Nyquil or Robitussin, tequila or bourbon, Valium or Ambien, the results should be the same: blessed silence. While they're passed out like little whinos, feel free to take a nice, relaxing bubble bath. You've earned it.