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Grandparenting has advantages, adjustments

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By MAUREEN ROSE
Gold Standard Acting Editor
maureen.a.rose2.civ@mail.mil
I am not a grandparent yet, but from everything I read on Facebook, I’m led to believe the experience is the next best thing to … well, you know … the thing that makes one a parent in the first place. I am eagerly looking forward to it and my first grandchild is on his way, with an ETA of Easter.
I believe I was a good mother, but parents must always weigh their actions against so many other principles: Is it really good for a preschooler to eat string cheese and peanuts for every meal? (It makes my life in the kitchen so much easier). Am I setting a dangerous precedent by letting my tyke stay up to “whenever” he wants? What’s the downside of letting the little darling have all the junk food she wants at the county fair? (I’ve heard stories, but surely those are ridiculous exaggerations).
But these principles are no longer my problem as a grandparent. The temper tantrums over bedtime, the sugar-in-duced frenzy of activity, the gastric side effects of too much cotton candy—those take a few hours to show up and by then, I’ll have returned the dump-lings to the financially, morally and sanely responsible parties who begat them, while I skip off to tell my tales of indulgence to my similarly-aged cronies.
Maybe it’s just as well I no longer have full responsibility for little ones. I suspect many of my parenting guidelines would be considered abuse these days. I raised three normal, healthy boys, but the rule was if somebody is raising holy heck, there better be blood. We said, “If there’s no blood, then shut up and settle it amongst yourselves.” It’s amazing how little blood there was, given the latitude those rascals had.
We also had no qualms about administering a swat on the backside when misbehavior warranted “corporal” punishment. Nor would I tolerate any of the disrespectful sass I hear youngsters doling out nowadays. I’ve heard some astonishingly bad-mouthed children say things that will only grow worse with age. I wonder how these mothers be-lieve they will control these smart alecks as teenagers if they can’t control them now while they’re still in short pants?
So, while deploring the techniques of modern parenting, I know I’m ready to jump into the fray. Some of my parenting aphorisms are getting rusty, so I’m eager to trot them out again. You know the ones—
* What do you mean you want a bun instead of white bread for your hot dog? Here: (folding it the bread in half) now it’s a bun.
* You deserve this spanking, but just remember, it hurts me more than it hurts you.
* Close that door—were you born in a barn?
* You want $75 sneakers? Money doesn’t grow on trees, you know.
Cliches aside, I’m looking forward to other things: that wonderful smell of babies, fresh from their baths, all sleepy and cuddly; the feel of baby skin; the curiosity of babies who delight in simple things we take for granted—their own belly buttons, butterflies, the cat’s tail, prisms of light.
Of course, many things have changed. I’m amazed at the ton of equipment new parents think they need. We just bathed babies in the kitchen sink; cut old towels to baby size and sterilized glass bottles on the stove.
I’ll have to learn how to read these new diapers. I think some of them buzz or ring or something when they’re soiled. Go figure—when I was a young mom, I just relied on my nose.
But I’m ready for new experiences, so bring on that grandbaby!