Random thoughts on spending a few days looking after the grandchildren while their parents are on a well-deserved vacation:
A brisk 45-minute walk while pushing a 25-pound toddler in a stroller is more exercise than one might think.
Little kids have short attention spans? Don’t believe it. The attention span of a one-year-old is far greater than the attention span of an adult who really doesn’t want to play peek-a-boo, watch Barney, or fold the same piece of laundry for the fifty-eleventh time.
Kids aged eight through eleven are quite capable and competent people who can get themselves ready for school, navigate their grandmother to the library and the park, and find the Internet password and the power cord for the electric skillet.
It is possible to fit one adult, four kids, one toddler in a car seat, and two bicycles into a mini-van and still have everyone in seat belts.
Once your own kids are grown, you mercifully tend to forget that an inevitable fact of life with babies and small children is the slime factor.
A shopping cart containing a toddler, two pairs of shorts, and several shirts will fit into a small dressing room in a discount store, along with one medium-sized adult. It is even possible to shut the door and try on the clothes, then to maneuver the cart back out of the dressing room.
I knew, of course, that my grandchildren were brilliant, but one of them is even more of a genius than I had realized. In fourth grade, he has already figured out the answer to one of the enduring puzzles of Western civilization: why is the Mona Lisa smiling? His conclusion, as set out in a school assignment, was this: “Leonardo bribed her with 300 pounds of the world’s finest chocolate.” Like many inspired discoveries, this one is obvious after a great thinker has realized it. Why did no one come up with this before?
A sixteen-month-old, suspicious on the first day of this strange person in his orbit in the place of Mom and Dad, can by the second day come running up with his arms out and a grin of delight on his face. This causes a strange melting sensation in the vicinity of the heart.
If you plan to rob a bank or a store, take along a cute toddler. Everyone will smile and coo and say hi to the kid, and none of them will ever be able to identify you.
To adults, two of the most beautiful words in the English language are “bedtime” and “nap.”
And finally, one of the many pleasures of spending time with grandchildren is realizing what good parents their parents are.