I imagine I am no different than any other grandparent; I love my grand kids, enjoy their visits, but I yearn to get back to the usual tranquility of our home, said tranquility necessarily interrupted by the presence of my four pre-teens at Christmas.
When they arrive, the first step is to stay the howling of our Dobie pack, announcing in full throat the blatantly obvious: There are people in the foyer who are neither Mommy nor Daddy. But the dogs have not seen the kids in six months, so their reaction, if irritating, is understandable.
As with most visitors, their first steps and actions are most tentative, their locked gaze never off the dogs. That obsession is returned by the pack.
After a while, however, the dogs grow used to them, and vice versa, and the kids begin to move easily, fearlessly amidst the four-legged, long-toothed protectors.
We began the visit, after catching up on the events in our respective lives, by watching ‘Sponge Bob,’ an activity to which I have never succumbed [I fear the loss of neurons.] We watched more of it than I deemed consistent with on-going cerebral functioning. But, a Grandpa’s got to do what a Grandpa’s got to do.
The sunlight beamed through the windows that late afternoon, encouraging sleep. I looked over on the sofa, and I saw the biggest Dobie curled up with my littlest ‘grand,’ also asleep, using him peacefully for a pillow.
The other three girls had appropriated a hairbrush and a cat. I taught the kids how to scratch behind their cats’ ears, and gently caress their jawline. All six cats sat transfixed by this grooming. The cats seemed to conclude: Why groom yourself when you can get a human to do it for you?
“Grand-daddy?” The littlest one had awakened, but just barely. She managed to utter: I want a Dobie.
Such events must be dealt with firmly and decisively. I replied, “Take it up with your mother.”
I could have saved my breath since she had promptly lapsed back into snoring.
However, this comment prompted a ‘Christmas List’ from the other three grands. Synopsis, from all of them at once: I want a cat.
An unwavering hand is called for. “Take it up with your mother.”
However, the realities and duties of daily living suddenly intervened. I had remembered a chore which seemed fitting to the issue at hand.
“Well, if you three enjoy cats so much…”
“Oh we do, Grand-daddy! We do!”
“Well, there’s a responsibility that comes with being a cat owner…”
“Yeah, we know, Grand-daddy, you’ve got to feed them and give them fresh water!”
“While that is true, there’s this one other chore; hardly worth mentioning…
“Think of using the potty.”
“Eeewwww! Why don’t they just go outside like a dog? There’s no such thing as ‘dog boxes’ is there?”
“These are strictly in-door cats. They do their business in a box. Every now and again, you have to empty and clean their boxes.”
“Sounds like fun!”
We were about half-way into that dusty, smelly chore, when one said, “I don’t want a cat anymore!”
Ah! A consensus! “Well, what do you want?”
“A shower!” they chorused.
On the way to the bathroom, one of them stopped and said, “Grandpa, I’ve changed my mind. I want a cat again.”
“Take it up with your mother.”
She persisted. “Grandpa, is there anything you want?”
“Yeah, a Motrin.”
“What’s a Motrin?”
“It’s right next to the shower. Help yourself.”
The littlest one woke up. “I still want a Dobie.”
“Mother,” I pointed vaguely in her direction. “I need a long nap.”