Toddler Goes International… Visiting with the Grandparents
Toddler looks supremely worried to see two exuberant people with manic grins bearing down on him. It’s OK, I tell him, this is your Grandma and Granddad. They haven’t seen you for six months.
We’ve just got off the train to see my in-laws. They have come to the train station to meet us, and Toddler clearly doesn’t recognize them. Six months is a long time when you are not even two yet. Hugs and kisses are exchanged. Toddler has the expression of one who thinks all adults are seriously and worryingly weird, and clings onto my neck. I might be considered weird, but better the devil you know.
When we get to the Grandparent’s house, Toddler starts to look happier. They’ve laid on everything a toddler could possibly want, such as an almost completely un-childproofed house and lots of candy. They’ve also got him some lovely toys, but Toddler starts eyeing the fragile tchotchkies displayed at his eye level. Please don’t touch those, I say. So Toddler heads for the stairs. Stay down here and say hello to Grandma and Granddad, I say. Toddler has seen the candy. Toddler will do anything for candy, including sit on the laps of the weird, so everyone starts to get reacquainted.
The Grandparents have planned lots of excursions for Toddler. Toddler is jet lagged and really would prefer to chill out, which to a toddler means using Grandma’s porcelain shepherdesses as truck drivers, eating candy, and jumping in the muddy puddles in the backyard and eating candy. But muddy puddles do not provide good grandchild bragging stories to tell Grandparents friends, and the lifeblood of the Grandparent is to tell other grandparents how wonderful their grandchild is and how much fun they had when the grandchild visited them. If their grandparent friends took their grandchild to the zoo and the park and the mall, then they have to take theirs to the zoo and the park and the mall and the aquarium and buy them a hat shaped like a fish.
Grandparents exist to spoil their grandchildren. My in-laws have hardly seen our son since he was born so I can’t blame them at all for wanting to spoil him, and make the few days they have as perfect as they can. A few days of candy after every meal isn’t going to do him any harm, I tell myself, and hope fervently he’ll forget and not demand it at home. Toddlers love being out and about and Toddler had a lot of fun on all the outings, even if there was a little overtired grumpiness, and even though he would rather stomp in the zoo’s muddy puddles than pose for photos looking at the zebra.
We had an exhausting few days, but Toddler was very happy and so were the Grandparents, and Toddler decided Grandma and Granddad weren’t weirdos, and was very fond of them by the time we left, so all’s well.
Did he forget and not demand candy at home? Not a chance. Toddler’s memory may not be six months yet but it’s long enough to remember chocolate for breakfast a few days ago. At least Toddler decided to throw the fish hat in a particularly muddy puddle, so we could toss it in good consciousness.