When our children are in the care of others (Teachers, Babysitters, Family etc.) and we pick them up, we always ask “How were they?”
Well let me ask you this…. when you ask that question….do you RE ALLY want to know the answer?
With regard to family, and I’m VERY LUCKY because I have a hands-on family most of whom live within a 5 mile radius of me, depending on which family member has been watching the kids, I can predict the answer:
Dad (aka Grandpa)
- My Dad is the best Dad in the world. He loves his children, my sisters and I, unconditionally but until I gave him grandchildren, I never knew how expendable I truly was. Grandchildren are the fiber of his being and anyone that knows him, has met him, will meet him in the future or happens to be employed at Costco (his F AVORITE store on the planet) will inevitably know every detail about his grandchildren- their names, ages, grade in school, reading level, mathematic and basketball ability and favorite food ( Are you getting the picture???). According to him, these 5 children, and any additional who are yet to come, will each grow up to be President, they will together, find a cure for cancer and they will each be enshrined in Canton, Cooperstown and Springfield (for those of you who don’t know the significance of these cities, they are home to the Football, Baseball and Basketball Halls of Fame, respectively).
So…it stands to reason, that if I’ve left my kids with my Dad for any length of time, when I pick them up and ask “How were they?” , his answer will always be a simple “Perfect. After all, they are MY grandchildren”. And that’s it. Someone could have lit the garbage on fire and bleached the dining room carpet, and his answer will not change. It’s ridiculous almost infuriating to the point that I actually walk out of his house muttering to myself about how he NEVER would’ve let me get away with whatever he lets them get away with, whatever that is since I’ve already told you, I’ll never know.
Mom (aka Grandma)
- My Mom, on the other hand, is an excellent counter- balance to my Dad. She too adores her grandchildren taking great pride in each and every one of their accomplishments. However, as it was when I was a kid, my Mom is the “heavy” as I suppose many Moms/Grandmothers are in their own families. If there’s discipline to be doled out, it ain’t coming from Grandpa so it’s left for her to handle…which stinks sometimes.
She’s fun and creative and has boundless energy which is a good thing considering, in reality, when the kids are with Grandma and Grandpa….Grandma is really the one doing all of the “heavy lifting” ie cooking, homework, and kissing boo-boos. And while she won’t dime them out in any great detail when I ask her “How were they?”, she will give me snip-its of truth related only to the things she thinks it’s important that I know i.e. Darby might be hungry later b/c she didn’t eat anything for dinner or you need to make sure you stain-stick Zachary’s pants AS AP b/c he just happened to “fall” on a permanent maker.
My Mom runs circles around me for sure …she’s a stop-what-she’s-doing and sit on the floor to play a game, and a stay-up-late and watch movies and eat popcorn, and a have ice cream for breakfast kind of Grandma but, she’s also a reliable source of info. about the children when I’m not there to be with them in-person. I always trust what she tells me, and I trust that anything she didn’t mention ireally wasn’t important for me to know. I love that.
Sisters (aka The Aunts)
My sister Emily falls into the same category as my Dad. She will NEVER release information that might incriminate one of her precious Nieces or Nephews. NEVER. It’s not even worth wasting the breath it takes to ask “How were they?” because whatever they did, she’s taking it to the grave…and they know it. Sometimes I think I should get Emily and the kids matching satin jackets with an embroidered name on the back just to show their solidarity….they are their own gang and she is their Leader. Dad is perhaps, their mascot. Aunt Emily always comes through in the clutch and I ALWAYS trust that she can handle any situation thrown her way….and I also trust that anything she can’t handle, will be cleaned up really well to the point that I’ll never know it happened:)
My sisters Jodi and Perri, are more in line with my Mom. They are funloving and crazy and active and outgoing but they can put on the Authority Hat when necessary. Again, they would never give me any information that might get someone into trouble but they will let me know snipits, when it’s something they think is important.
In fairness, I have to assess myself as I now have a Niece and a Nephew of my own (courtesy of Jodi). I think I fall more in line with my Mom, I’m pretty honest about what happens on my watch, BUT, I expect that my Sister trusts that I handled any situation that may have arisen while the kids were with me and therefore no one is getting into any trouble at home, as a result of anything that happened with me…because that’s just not fun.
When I started my family, my parents were clear with my Husband and I that while discipline is important, the rules at my house are just that. And the rules at their house aren’t necessarily the same…nor should they be. There are certain privileges that come with Grandparenthood and I’m reminded of that on a near daily basis (by my parents).
I’ve mentioned it before in my posts…..It definitely takes a village. I’m so lucky because my village is available on a moment’s notice, to step in when I can’t be at a school show or when the big game happens to coincide with a big meeting. Regardless of what I’m told or not told about “how they were”, I never worry about what goes on when I’m not there because I trust that they (even my Dad) are handling situations as they arise and I also trust that my kids respect their grandparents and Aunts and Uncles, as they do their parents.
So if one of my kids spills an ice cream on someone’s dog and I don’t find out about it…so what. After a long day of work, when I finally get to pick up my kids to head home and after I’ve thanked whichever Village-member has so graciously helped me out yet again by stepping in with the kids…. As I turn back and causally toss out that last “How were they?” to be honest, all I was really hoping to hear anyway was “They were fine”.