When my busy kids were growing up, I often told them after an exhausting day: "Just wait until you have kids of your own."
Now that I have grandkids -- only for a couple of hours now and then -- I'm still exhausted when they leave and ready for a glass (bottle?) of wine, a nap (coma) and some peace and quiet (without the use of earplugs). Still, we enjoy them, on a short-term basis. So when my daughter asked if we would baby-sit while they went to a wedding that was a year away I said sure, figuring we'd be retired and living on a tropical island far, far away by then.
Unfortunately retirement turned out to be a false idol, and the tropical island was more of a mirage. As for the wedding, it turned out to be in Southern California and they'd be gone the entire weekend -- 72 hours!
There wasn't enough wine at Bev Mo to get us through this nightmare.
Not ones to renege on a promise (except for that pony), we gathered the grandkids, along with my daughter's "Manifesto" -- a five-page, single-spaced typewritten document with minute-by-minute instructions. I've read computer manuals less detailed than this. The tome included everything from "What to feed them when they refuse to eat" to "How to trick them into going to bed." Five minutes after they left, I promptly "lost" the manual. I figured with my degree in child development, I didn't need no stinkin' manifesto.
Day one: We went to Target and bought a bunch of new toys to
Day two: We needed something fun to do since they were bored with their new Target toys, had tried all my nail polish colors and had christened every inch of the yard. So we took them to the San Ramon Art and Wind Festival and tried not to lose them among the billions of attendees. After a two-minute train ride around the crowded parking lot we bought some kettle corn, watched the kite show and were home half an hour later for naptime -- ours, not the kids.
Day three: We entered the "TV/video portion" of the baby-sitting marathon, beginning with the annoying "Yo Gabba Gabba" and ending with the forbidden "Tom and Jerry" cartoons we keep hidden from the parents. When we heard the roads were closed and the parents had a 10-hour drive ahead of them, I wanted to cry and my husband wanted to get out the duct tape. Meanwhile, the grandkids were happy as little cherubs. Who wouldn't be, when you can do anything you want with nail polish and some bushes at grandma's house?
When the parents finally arrived, we handed over the healthy and happy kids, poured some wine and watched as Lyla promptly soaked her new outfit and Luke threw a tantrum because he didn't want to get out of the pool.
Ha. Just wait until they have grandkids of their own.
Reach Penny Warner at www. pennywarner.com.