In my last installment I talked about the call you never want to get. Suddenly having to put one’s life on hold and at age 70 for me and 65 for my wife and be parents again was a shock.

Suddenly we were tossed into a role we played before, but to use an aviation term, we weren’t current. Upon arrival at my son’s house amidst the shock, anger and grief of our daughter-in-law’s suicide, we had to instantly transition from being a fun grand parent to a full time parent responsible for discipline, getting to/from school and after-school activities, homework, cooking, cleaning and the laundry, etc. etc. It wasn’t easy.

Trying to comfort and explain what happened to a 4 year old boy, an 8 year old girl and 9 year old grandson was a challenge. Grief counseling helped, but they only saw the counselor once a week. Temper tantrums that resulted in screams of ‘mommy, mommy…” were heart rendering.

And then there was the laundry. Some days, my wife did six or seven loads. The average was four. Yes, there were seven people – four kids and three adults – and it’s a credit to American engineering that the washer and dryer held up to the abuse. Collecting, sorting, washing, drying, folding all took time. It was much more than I remembered.

Long forgotten parenting skills had to be relearned. Frankly, at age 70, I don’t have the patience to listen to a whinny kid. Being told “no” even when given choices is simply isn’t an acceptable answer.

Child rearing in the 1970s and 80s is a lot different than it is in the year 2016. Many things are the same, but there are differences.

The biggest is the plethora of video games which are a both a blessing and a curse. Yes, they keep kids occupied but many are incredibly violent. The ratings help sort them out but most involve shooting or killing or blowing up something. The games are addictive to young minds and create unrealistic expectations that everything is an instant transaction. They get excited about reaching some esoteric level based on their skill at the game.  Who cares!  What is amazing is how kids who can barely read can intuitively figure out the game. They spend hours with their noses buried in an iPad and fight over who did what to whom in a networked game.  Good grief kids, its a video game!!!

Reading a book? Are you kidding! That’s “boring…”

And then there are meals. My wife was putting on the table food that when we were feeding our kids, wouldn’t have gotten in the house. Everything seemed to need some sort of a coating, usually either barbeque sauce or ranch dressing.

On the “don’t get me started” list of topics, video games are number one closely followed by the eating habits of my grandkids.

At the end of every day, both my wife and I were exhausted. We’d crawl into bed shortly after the kids and by ten p.m., we were asleep. My lovely wife put it best. “There’s a reason God set it up so we would have kids when we were young and had the energy to deal with them… And, if we had them at our age, we’d put them down and forget where we put them.”

How much longer are we going to put our lives on hold? We don’t know. It’s a mixed blessing. On one hand, we’re an integral part of our grandchildren’s lives and that’s important. On the other, we need a life apart. Ultimately, we’ll figure out what the mix is.

Marc Liebman

July 2016