I never really thought much about the grandparents my children would have before they came into this world. By default I assumed they’d jump into the role of Russell and Anna Huxtable of the Cosby Show. You know, there when you need them but certainly not too often. Helpful, warm, and loving, with just the right amount of quirk. All the while, they would the wrinkly people my kids would obsess over, even going so far as begging to stay with their grandparents for weeks at a time while my husband and I gallivanted to exotic places (IKEA).
After having kids, and chatting (a lot) with other parents, I have come to the conclusion that there are 4 types of grandparents (none being Russell and Anna Huxtable):
1. Spoiler Alert
3. The Boxer
4. Happy Ending
Spoiler Alert: If you know this grandparent, you may equate them to Buddy the Elf meets Santa Clause, sprinkled with a little 50 Cent when he “makes it rain”. This grandparent treats every visit like it may be the last. I’m talking death row, finale, last. A typical visit (note: non-holiday) looks something like this: Parents: “Get dressed, Mimi and Papa are on their way” (these words cannot be mentioned until you’re sure they are pulling in the driveway). Kids shriek, flail, and punch each other in the face hoping the other may go cold thus leaving the one still standing to gain sole experience of the Candyland type atmosphere the house is about to become. Unloaded from the Spoiler Alert Mobile are ponies (real live, not My Little…), 6 foot gumdrop trees, a Play Station 5 (not yet released) and a 110 ft 3D flat screen TV. What? Best Buy had a good deal… Dang Grandma!
Glamparents: Those “grandparents 70 going on 17″ without a wrinkle in sight, dressed head to toe in linen and silk – nothing that would resemble an outfit suitable for a play-day with the grandkids. “Visits with their grandchildren” are typically a mid-day fly-by causing no need for an early rising, yet providing enough time that they can get in and out without cutting into their nightlife. When Glamparents dedicate themselves to a weekend visit (note: rare and usually a holiday) the day starts with a request for Starbucks (skim milk, no sugar) followed by “what’s the plan for the day?” then without waiting for a response, diving neck deep into a mobile device for the next few hours. At some point there is slight grandchild acknowledgement by announcing, “Somebody let me know if anyone needs me”. By 4p (noon) the Glamparents tend to get a little antsy and/or bored and ask for limes (hint – alcoholic beverage) while mentioning that they “are not looking for anything fancy but let them know when they should start getting ready for dinner. And who will be watching those kids?” Anit’ no bonding like Glamparent bonding.
The Boxer: Whether you’re dealing with Rocky Balboa, Muhammad Ali, or Theresa Giudice, this type of grandparent has laced up their gloves, ready to fight (you on every imaginable thing). You name your child Tyler James, they insist on calling him James Jr. (nope, that is not his name). Putting Tyler down for a nap you may get this response from said Boxer “That’s ridiculous. He just woke up.” To which you explain yeah, he’s 5 mo old and needs to sleep about every two hours. Boxer: Well go on and take him. I mean, I didn’t come out here to be with him or anything. Followed up by: Wow, he went down fast. Let me see the monitor. He doesn’t get a blanket?! Parent: Well, no, they say no blankets until… Boxer: Well I’ll be, thank the baby gods you’re still standing here living and breathing because I gave you a blanket from birth. Good thing I didn’t kill you, is all I’m going to say. Apparently I did it all wrong. 13 seconds later: Even at night he doesn’t get one?!? You’re torturing your child and I don’t want to stand here and witness it. The Boxer gets a laced drink at dinner provoking elongated sleep (because sleep is good for everyone)…
Happy Ending : For the 10 months you waddled around wanting to both puke and chug a beer simultaneously, The Happy Ending Grandparent was all but. You had either zero or negative expectations because they may have been an absent and/or emotionally unavailable for the majority of your (or your spouse’s) life. But somehow, by the grace of the higher being, when Tyler James aka James Jr popped out, this grandparent turned into the sweet, adoring, secret handshake making, club house building, lightening bug collecting, Happy Ending of a grandparent. You lucky son of an absent parent, you won (and you deserve it)…