family time
First-Time Grandparent
If I did everything so wrong, how come my kids turned out so right!!

As my husband and I end the 19th month of being first-time grandparents, I now feel pretty qualified to give my read on all of those wonderful declarations made by the millions of grandparents who have joined "the club" before me. I have heard the same profession of love all my life from the beaming faces of family and friends who share endless stories of their offspring's offspring: the absolute joy and wonder at the sight of this child...the endless sense of pride that one of your own children can actually produce such a treasure, and the exclamation that it is "just different" when you have a grandchild. "You'll see," they chanted repeatedly, just wait until you have your own."

Well, everything they told me would happen has happened and being a grandparent is better than they say. But we didn't know everything. No one told us about the know - the change! The new way of bringing up baby that is somehow different than it has been for years. After raising our own children years ago, we were amazed that we were "out of it" as far as the rules go. We were no longer in sync with the nineties method of child rearing. So I had to ask. When did the rules change and how come no one told us? Who in the world made up these new rules and my biggest question was, where have I been?

Well, we discovered that the answers to all of our questions were in the book. You know, the book.. The one written by the experts who probably don't have any kids. It tells you what each baby should be doing every minute of the day. It also implies that if your baby does something outside of the typical behaviors that there must be something terribly wrong with him.

I'm sure there are a lot of good ideas in this book, but as our daughter was showing us the new and improved way to bring up baby we were a bit flabbergasted. How did we ever manage to raise four perfectly happy and healthy kids to be young successful adults if we did everything so terribly wrong?

For example, I honestly believed that when a four month old got tired when visiting at someone's house that you would put the baby on a bed, surround him with pillows and let him sleep. That seemed to work when our kids were babies, but now it's a little different. I guess the book believes that removing a fussy, tired baby from the crowd might pave the way for a feeling of abandonment and rejection in the child who realizes that his family is wide awake and partying in the family room without him. I guess it's better to let the child be held for the remainder of the night or sleep in one of those highly comfortable baby seats that can be strategically placed in the middle of the action.

I also thought that it was fun for new parents to get away out of town, bring baby to grandma's (where he has a room filled with all the amenities of home) and spend a quality weekend together away from the exhaustive duties of parenthood. We were almost in tune on this one, except for the part where the kids bring the baby to us. It seems now that a newborn baby cannot spend the night at anyone's house for the first year of life. Oh, you didn't know that? My goodness, it might lead to serious feelings of insecurity for that child who knows his own mattress and his own bed at three months. There will be plenty of time for that when the baby is older. Now whoever baby-sits for this child will have to do so at the child's home. No question about that one.

Here's another one: I guess cow's milk is out when the baby is off breast milk or formula. While over at our daughter's house several months ago we saw it for the first time. A strange looking container of milk that was placed on the table. Innocently, we asked what kind of milk that was. We were told that it was rice milk...a much better choice to give the baby rather than those awful commercial brands. Much healthier for little ones. Okay, at least we had heard of rice milk, but we weren't prepared for what we saw on a follow up visit to our daughter's home: another strange carton of milk. This one was entirely new to us, a name that I had never seen at the grocery store. Again we innocently asked about this milk. We found out that this milk is drawn from special cows who graze only on special fields with grass treated with special natural fertilizer. I'm not kidding! You can guess how much THIS milk costs ! I'll bet that this baby can't wait to wake up every morning to quench his thirst on this delicacy!

Walkers are out, not good for the legs. A swing is okay, as long as the top bar of the swing is at least three feet from the baby's head so the baby can't reach up and get his hand caught in the mechanism. Sugar is out...way out. Any sugar, anything that smells, feels or tastes like sugar, is out! Even if it isn't sugar it had better not even look like it. Everything must be natural. Chocolate, oh my God! Don't even think of it! (Okay, maybe on the child's first birthday).

Despite all the teasing we have given our daughter, we continue to look in awe at the beautiful, nurturing and exceptional way she and her husband are bringing up their child. Our granddaughter is happy, healthy and lucky to have a mother like her.

I wouldn't trade the role of grandmother for anything else in the world. Grandparenthood is different, you'll see.


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