There are no rules and regulations when you're a grandparent. That's what makes it so grand.
The grandkids know nothing is off limits when they come to our house. We won't let them harm themselves, of course, but what we think is hazardous and what their parents deem to be healthy, or appropriate, aren't quite the same. It would be obvious to any kid coming into our house we are serious about having fun with no regard to "what would their parents do?"
Since the 4-year-old grandson has discovered his passion for sports, a mini basketball goal was installed on the front room wall. Once he puts on his official basketball uniform he will literally shoot hoops for hours. Sure, it's a little difficult to hear the TV, or anything else for that matter, but the boy is happy and that's all that matters.
A large walk-in closet has been transformed into a playhouse for the 7-year-old granddaughter, complete with a baby bed, high chair, swing and as many baby dolls as she deems necessary. Since she has to deal with the 4-year-old and two 1-year-old boys trying to tear the babies’ arms and legs off, she won sole rights to make the closet her own.
The 1-year-old grandsons are not only walking but running to try and beat me to anything they shouldn't play with. We do have to enforce some rules, such as not removing the floor vents, throwing items into the guinea pig cage and sticking fingers into the central vacuum plug-ins. Other than that, it's no holds barred and with nothing on but their diapers, they have the run of the house.
The parents don't understand our reasoning for taking their clothes off, but it's all about letting them do what they aren't normally allowed to do. Running around without clothes might be an option in the summer but grandparents can make it happen in the wintertime too.
They all love sweet tea and although none of them are allowed to have it at home, it's a given they will have it here. The older grandkids act as though they're having some kind of exquisite drink when I offer up a glass of sweet tea. The pantry is still off limits to the 1-year-olds, but the other two know there's at least two shelves lined with their favorite junk food and yes, if they would like to eat some before dinner, they can.
We tell the parents the children go to bed at the official time they set, but they don't. We stay up until there's no doubt they will fall asleep as soon as they lay their heads down.
The best possible thing to happen to a grandparent is when the moms and dads show up and the kid doesn't want to go home. It's even more grand watching them turn into little monsters from sleep deprivation and coming down off a sugar high.
There's nothing better than a play date with the grandkids, and we even surprise ourselves that we can keep up with them. It's a grand gig, but let's not kid ourselves, we need a grand nap after they leave.
Sandy Turner lives in Independence. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org