What No One Told Me

This is a public service announcement:

When my daughter and her family relocated to New Jersey this summer, I began watching my three- and five-year-old grandsons.


Of course you may have ice cream for your after school snack!

It has been many years since I had full responsibility for two little boys and NO ONE reminded me of the basic knowledge needed for this job. In my desire to assist future babysitting grandparents (and new moms), I issue this public service announcement based on the wisdom I have gleaned over the past few months:

  • About sandboxes. When little boys ask to play in the sandbox and you’re overwhelmed by the sweetness of them asking permission, do not lose your mind. It is not enough to smile and say “Yes. Have fun!” You must qualify your yes—“Yes, but do not throw sand.” This directive will not be understood unless you clearly and emphatically state it. If you do not, you will pay for it.
  • About naps. When the three-year-old grandson lies down on your bed for a nap, be sure to put down a sheet first. If you neglect this step, the aforementioned sand will be waiting for you when you climb into bed at 11 pm. (A waterproof sheet is best, because even though the child sleeps dry at home, he is bound to forget that training at your house.)
  • About grocery shopping. You know those cute shopping carts for children with cars they can sit in? Do not be duped—they are not cute! Navigating them through the aisles requires the skill of a semi driver. Also, they are part of a scheme to get your money because when you pause to put something in your cart, little hands are conveniently positioned to reach the lower shelves and fill the child’s seat with items you have no intention of buying.
  • About grocery shopping, part 2. After you have learned the previous lesson, be warned about the traditional shopping cart. Your grandchild will want to throw your items into the cart, key word being throw. Do not give him a glass jar. Do not put bread in your cart until last. Do not linger within reach of hanging shelf displays, but do be prepared to explain what each dangling package is. By all means, bring a snack. Also, if you invite your grandson to choose a matchbox car from the display, he will think it is part of the grocery shopping routine and expect to stop at said display every week.
  • About shoes. If your grandsons remove their shoes when they come in, you will be putting them back on their feet within five minutes so they can go outside again. However, if they keep their shoes on, I can all but guarantee there is mud on the soles. It is also wise to remind their parents that Velcro is our friend.
  • About questions. If your grandchild is one of those curious individuals who asks questions (every waking moment) it is unlikely you can ignore him. I thought that by not answering, he would let it go. He will not. If the answer is “because” or “there is no answer to that question” it will be followed by subsequent questions. You must be well-rested and alert so you can answer questions you never ever considered. Remember, he is learning… and you are the teacher.
  • About the radio. If you turn on the car radio in hopes of averting the stream of questions, you will likely meet new challenges, especially if your grandchild is musical. During the Christmas season, I discovered that a three-year-old will say “Feliz Navidad” 40 times in a ten minute ride to master the “f” and “v” sounds. Once he has the pronunciation down, he will repeat the words endlessly. You will find yourself considering a call to the station to request banning the song from their play list.
  • About energy. They have it and you don’t. Give yourself a break. Be realistic. We’re not as young as when their parents were children. Rest when they do (and insist that they do rest).
  • About crabbiness. This came to me early on and has proven extremely successful, so I must share it. We were in the car and the boys started whining, as children do. In mock dismay I cried out, “Oh no! The crabbies are here! Who let those crabbies in the car?” I immediately opened the windows and told those crabbies to get out! The boys gaped in wonder, their complaints forgotten. Now I only have to say, ”Oh, no! The crabbies are here!” and the three-year-old runs to the door and shoos them out, reporting with satisfaction, “They’re gone now, Nana.” He also thinks they live in trees, waiting to sneak back in… I’ll leave that for his parents to straighten out.

I highly recommend that you print out and post these pointers because the minute they run through your door calling, “Nana!” as if you’re a super hero, you will forget everything I just told you. The sparkle in their brown eyes, the innocence of their questions and the tenderness of their hearts melt me everytime.

Please share your lessons learned and wisdom gleaned. United we stand, divided we fall into bed by 9.

13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Donne
    Jan 17, 2017 @ 15:19:18

    As a not so young mom I relate to every word!! Great job! 👍🏻



  2. saltesh
    Jan 17, 2017 @ 15:46:56

    lovelovelove this blog



  3. Susan Panzica
    Jan 17, 2017 @ 15:56:41

    Love it! Erma Bombeck, step aside ;D



  4. susanpanzica
    Jan 17, 2017 @ 15:57:38

    Love it! Erma Bombeck, move over ;D



  5. missannsays
    Jan 17, 2017 @ 16:16:56

    Wonderful job, Barbara. My grandson is only 20 months old so many times as he speaks to me I have no idea what he is saying. When he pauses seemingly waiting for a response from me, I answer “that could be true. I never thought of that.” I don’t want to just respond “yes” as I could be giving permission for all kinds of mischievous activities. Enjoy your Nana time. 😉



  6. Christine T. Kenyon
    Jan 17, 2017 @ 19:39:40

    Loved it! Glad to read your missives, again. ❤



  7. Marge
    Jan 17, 2017 @ 20:36:06

    Love it Barb! It’s right on target. I nap when they do, and I’m in bed by nine, and others know not to call me at night. And talk about non-stop talk! The twins are double duty! They’re exhausting and precious rolled into two! Thanks for sharing!



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