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Grandpa Time: My perfect angels…not

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Those who read this column, know that my grandchildren seem like the perfect kids. But there is a darker side. They are not that perfect, they don’t always do what they are told, they can be stubborn and on some days, we just want to give them back sooner than later.

Parenting was hard but I thought grandparenting would be a breeze. We knew where we made our mistakes, and we were better prepared to handle whatever might come our way. And besides, grandchildren obey their grandparents, right? I know the last thing I ever wanted to do was disappoint my grandparents.

Perhaps it is because we spend almost as much time with them as they do their parents, they have become so comfortable with us, that we are more like parents than grandparents. Or maybe they think that we will give in because we are the grandparents. But we have seen it all and we know all the tricks. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

The toughest part of being a parent and a grandparent, in my opinion, is seeing your kids make mistakes that will hurt them. I don’t know about you, but I want to shield them from life’s hardships and protect them from adversity. Yet I know that is being unfair to them because they will not learn life’s lessons.

I asked Kai about his classmates, and he mentioned that there was one boy who picked on him. I asked, “Do you want me to go have a talk with him? I could bring your grandma’s cousins, Vinnie and Rocco from Kenosha.” He looked at me with a big smile and said, “Yes, and could you talk to his parents too?”

I wish I could protect both my kids and my grandsons, but I cannot be there every step of the way. They will need to learn how to work things out and if needed, get help, just not from Vinnie or Rocco.

The same principle applies to discipline. A grandparent is supposed to be the fun one, allowing the grandkids to stay up late, eat that Dove bar and break a few mom and dad rules. But sometimes they just cross that line and you have no choice but to “correct them.”

I remember my 75-year-old neighbor lady telling us that she was the granddaughter of a slave. Raised by her grandma, she recalled mouthing off one day. That didn’t sit kindly with her grandmother and Alice was told to go get a switch. She came back with a twig and grandma was none too happy. Alice told us she never made that mistake again.

One of my grandchildren, who I will not name, copped an attitude recently. We wouldn’t let him go next door to play because the neighbor kids were eating. He got mad and pushed his bike over. What was I to do? That type of behavior was unacceptable.

First, there was no reason to have a bad attitude and second, he wasn’t taking care of his bike. I looked at him and spoke directly, telling him to pick up his bike. He stood there gazing at me. It was a show down at the OK Corral.

I then began counting and told him that if the bike wasn’t picked up by the count of three, he would be grounded. Before I could get to three, he picked up the bike. His attitude left something to be desired, but he did what was asked of him.

After I let him stew for a while, I called him over. He didn’t want to come, but he did. I looked at him, told him that I don’t like having to discipline him and then gave him a big hug. It was hard enough disciplining my own children, but it is even harder with the grandkids.

I love my grandchildren dearly and they are good kids. But I am keenly aware that they are not perfect and that they will have their moments. It just shouldn’t be around Grandma and Grandpa. Right?

There is no better job than being a grandfather.

David Maack is married to Amy. They have two children, Maria (Kiondre) and David II and two grandchildren, Kai and Tannerbert.


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