Geri-Antics: The Generation Gap; Ne’er the Twain Shall Meet

Published 3:06 pm Friday, May 20, 2022

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By Anne C. Carmichael


Rarely a day passes that I don’t see dozens of posts on social media authored by young mothers asking when their child will start listening when they attempt to help them navigate childhood sans repercussions of their actions.

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I allow the motherlings to eventually come to the dispiriting conclusion that they may never see the day in their lifetime when their children will listen to their advice.

I can recall when I was a young wife and mother. There was a big family dinner at the home of my husband’s parents. My sister-in-law and I were in the kitchen helping our mother-in-law to prepare the meal. We asked her when we might expect her sons (our husbands) to grow up and act like mature men. She simply pointed to her own husband who was enthralled in a wrestling match with his adult sons.

Since our father-in-law was nearing 80 at the time, her silence indicated to us what we’d feared all along… never truly grow up.

That means that not only are women tasked with raising their children, but they’ll likely also be mothering their spouse as well. And ladies, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t end there. Once the grandchildren and great-grandchildren begin to come along, you’re going to find yourself volunteering to help raise those little angels as well.

Grand-parenting is a gift from God. Treasure every moment.

I’m currently guiding a third generation of babies through childhood. Four days a week, I babysit one of the great-grands in their home.

Now, one would think having raised both a son and a daughter of my own, as well as 4 grandchildren, I’d be an old pro at this. I should have all the answers, right? Well, to my chagrin, it seems the little ones just keep getting smarter earlier and are outwitting their old Nana forthwith.

Just this past Christmas, the then very tall two year old was able to climb out of her crib. As with most modern cribs, her bed converted into a toddler bed — same crib, same mattress, but with the railing removed on one side. Her parents immediately made the conversion in order to prevent accidents that might have occurred during her climbing attempts.

It took only minutes for the baby to realize she’d been granted the freedom to get out of bed and explore everything in her room. We watched with horror and amazement via the baby monitor as she made discovery after discovery.

Dresser drawers were the first to be not only emptied of their contents, but pulled out and used as ladders to climb atop the furniture piece. Cue Amazon for bolts to secure the units to the wall and more baby safety locks for the drawers. Closet doors were secured as well.

Toys and books were the next to exit the room as they provided too much entertainment to quiet little minds sufficiently and allow sleep.

Nap time became a nightmare for those of us who had been accustomed to having both a morning and afternoon respite from chasing an active toddler. As a matter of fact, nap time ceased altogether for weeks.

Not only were caregivers deprived of much needed time to regroup but as we quickly discovered, two-year-olds who do not nap tend to become incapable of coping with any obstacle that prevents them from achieving their two-year-old goals, however irrational those goals might be.

Through trial and error for nearly six months, we finally got back  on an equitable schedule. We acquiesced to one brief thirty minute morning rest period during which the toddler is not required to sleep, but must lie quietly in her bed.

In the afternoon actual sleeping happens once again and lasts between one and three hours.

But then I made a fatal error. I said right out loud how much easier it is now that I have the two breaks in the day once again. This angered the gods. As usually happens, Karma heard my jubilation and decided that I needed additional challenges.

While my granddaughter was getting dressed for work last week, she heard doors open and shut. In walked the toddler who has now learned to open doors and escape her room altogether. And not only that, but she can also open all the other doors which have previously remained out of bounds for little girls, such as the ever-treacherous bathroom.

Once again, the gauntlet has been thrown. 3 adults (2 parents and 1 Nana) are scrambling to out-smart a two-year-old.

I’m not a quitter.

I wouldn’t trade my assignment for the world.