What About This . . .? By Wayne William Cipriano

Let’s face it, kids are wired! And once they learn to walk, the younger they are, the higher the voltage.

Kids wake up ready to rock, and they do so all day long.

Pity the Moms and Dads who try to keep up while running the family in the stratosphere of parental responsibility. Recognize the grandparents, retired from those responsibilities because, as we say, we’ve been there, done that. We juggled the different approaches to running a family when we were parents, and kept at it, this most important job, until we were term-limited when our youngest reached 18 years or ceased effective and successful formal education.

Nowadays, we grandparents catch a coast. We may serve as unpaid daycare, or sometimes free summer camp, or unfortunately, as putative foster homes, but for most of us, we relax the iron-clad standards we enforced on their parents (and which generated so many horror stories told to the grandkids) and just enjoy the kids.

That’s not to say that we could keep up like we did in the old days if we wanted to, because we can’t. But, we don’t have to. Its is no longer our “direct responsibility”, we are auxiliaries. We are the militia. We are turned to when necessity shows up. And like auxiliaries, like militia, we serve when called, but everyone knows we can duck out whenever we wish and possess benefits denied to the regulars. Benefits such as being able to tag-team the kids because, if all of us are lucky, there are two of us “on duty.”

We get up pretty early so we are usually ready when the cyclones hit in force, but, that means we are ready to crash fairly early too. This early to bed and early to rise philosophy, good for us, only operates on the kids if we follow some sensible rules inflexibly: 1) The kids cannot sleep in, even though we cherish that early morning silence and that warm,unhurried beverage that often accompanies it. Get ‘em up early and they will be ready to crash at an acceptable hour.

2) Avoid all the “resting games” like “Who can play dead the longest”, “Who can walk the farthest, slowest,” “Who can pet the cats the longest without the cats walking away,” and all those other grandparent-friendly games.

3) When each of us begins to fade, we hand off the kids to our other, and we do so before they can catch their second wind. We don’t let them stop. 

And even more important than those three rules, there’s the really big rule, the Sine qua non: 4) No Naps!

Sure, some of us (all of us?) see nap time as a blessed island of peace and quiet in he middle of a hyperactive, never-ending day. (Do the kids ever look more beautiful than when they have crumpled up on the carpet or collapsed onto their beds right after lunch?)

Sure, the kids argue against a nap and it is quite a (self-serving) temptation to “give in to them” to “make them happy” when the idea of a little adult rest looks very, very attractive.

And sure, to be honest, when the kids are napping it is not impossible to imagine how valuable a quick nap for us as well might be most beneficial, extending our potential value as lifeguards and energetic role models. And, we assure ourselves, cuddling up with the kids during nap time must surely enhance our familial bonding.

But, NO! NO NAPS!

Once these simple rules are followed, the kids will crash early and stay down all night. And so can we!