Monday, March 6, 2017

Parent vs. Grandparent

I have always heard people talk about being a grandparent as being completely different from being a parent.  I never  understood that until I had a grandchild.  Well, let me just tell you - there is a huge difference in being a grandparent as opposed to parent.  It's hard to put your finger on why this is.  It just is.  But at the same token, you know it's different.

I guess it's because as a parent you are "in" the rat race trying to balance the big trifecta - family, work, life.  It's hard for you to slow down.  You are in "work" mode always.  Working to take care of your family, working at your job, and working to have a little bit of fun in your life.  It's all about balance.  I worked before my first born (Chickie) and returned to work after she was born.  Honey-Buns and I tried to keep her out of daycare...He worked during the day and when he came home, I went to work, waitressing at night.  This worked really well for about six months when we realized we were tired of not seeing each other more.  That was also when he left his job as a meat-cutter and went into the family trucking business with his father.  I then switched from waitressing at night, to working as a cashier (same restaurant) during the day.  Chickie went to daycare.  I was lucky to find a small one and she was the only baby for an additional six months.  I believe she was more spoiled at this daycare than she would have been at home.

I had always told my husband that if possible, I would like to not work if we had more children.  When my son (Bubby) came along, I was able to stop working outside of the home.  This was so much fun.  I have always been one to play with my children, not just plop them in front of the t.v. and it really showed in their early knowledge.  Chickie recognized all letters of the alphabet by the age of two, could write her name at three, and was reading easy books at four.  Bubby was different - he didn't like to sit still, but he did like drawing and he would always make his own books - drawing the pictures and making up the stories.  I started babysitting my husband's cousin's baby - he was a year and half younger than Bubby.  From there, I started keeping kids after school.  This then led to me substitute teaching once Bubby started school and that led to a para-professional (teacher's aide) position at my children's elementary school.  I worked in the school system up until 2001 when I joined the family trucking business full time after my father-in-law passed away.  I still work for the business, I am just able to have my office located at home.  I am now babysitting my granddaughter, Munchkin on Tuesday-Friday.

I am the same type of grandparent as I was a parent - always playing, putting the child first, etc.  So what's so different?  I'm more patient.  I was always a patient parent - my son made me that way.  I had to parent him completely different from my daughter.  They didn't learn the same way, they didn't act the same way - completely different people.  Well, duh!  They ARE different people.  Munchie to me is a combination of both her mother (Chickie) and her uncle.  Raising both of my children and working in the school system helped me realize everyone is different.  And it's okay.  One of my favorite stories to tell about my children when they were little is about bed time.  As Chickie got older, her bed time would become later.  Bubby didn't like that one bit.  He wanted to have a later bed time too - even though most nights he was so tired he would be in bed asleep by 8:00 p.m. (if he even made it to then.)  Knowing he could not stay up later, I gave in and he was given a later bed time.  He even told his teacher his bedtime was midnight.  She asked me about that and I told her yes, that's what it was but...he never stayed up later than 7:30/8:00 unless he had a baseball game that ran later.  He still talks about having  a later bed time than his older sister.  You have to appreciate their differences.

I also seem to take my time more.  It seems like we always had somewhere to be/something to do.  I still do, but not as much.  Maybe it's not taking my time so much as it's enjoying our surroundings.  Usually when I go the our local Ingles grocery store, we have to stop at the balloon/flower area.  We have to look at the balloons and if Munchie feels the need, we have to hug the Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, monkey, Elsa, Anah, unicorn balloons.  It's okay to stop and look and hug.  She knows she's not going to get a balloon (her dog likes to eat them - not good) and she's happy hugging them.  We also have to go by the bakery and see what kind of cute cupcakes/cakes they have made.  Her favorites are the animal cupcakes - especially the ones that look like dogs.  If we're outside, we have to stop and look at the bugs and flowers and trees.  It's all fine with me.  It's okay to stop and wonder at your surroundings and I absolutely love watching her discover things. 

Play, play, play!  I have always played with my children.  We play games, play outside, blow bubbles, draw with chalk, run and act silly, play in the water, play on the playground - all kinds of things.  I can remember playing with my children - always.  Yes, they had solo-play time as well, but I like to play.  I'm a kid at heart, and a silly one at that!  I broke two ceiling fan lights sword-fighting with my son when he was little.  The one in the living room broke when I jumped on the coffee table to fend him off and hit the light when I raised my sword.  Same thing happened in my bedroom when we sword-fighting on the bed.  I scraped my leg (major road rash) riding the wagon down the driveway.  I didn't crash when I rode the wagon, but when I tried to stop it when Bubby did and he was heading straight for the back of our vehicle parked in the driveway.  Anyway, this aspect of parenting hasn't stopped for me.  I love to play.