The first casualty of war is truth. A well-known and accurate truism, but there is an even more essential piece of information contained in these words. All you have to do is readjust them slightly.
Truth is guaranteed to start a war – and YOU will be the Casualty!
This is even more accurate if your children happen to be child rearing experts, because there is almost nothing that you can do right. In fact there will be times when you might ask yourself how on earth they managed to survive into adulthood given all your significant inabilities as a responsible adult.
And so in the interest of sanity, safety and family preservation I would like to pass on a series of handy hints that could save you from extreme grief on any extended visit with your children and grandchildren.
Remember that times have changed
The first thing to remember is that you come from the age of the dinosaurs. Things that were perfectly acceptable when you were bringing up kids or especially things that you did when you were a child are positively dangerous.
And watching a child stare longingly at an ice cream van or shop sign is absolutely no reason to assume that it is OK to get them one. First of all you have to check out if the ice cream is made from lactose free, pasteurised, homogenised, non GM containing stuff. Failure to do all of those things is likely to cause the child to drop into some kind of anaphalactic shock within seconds.
Seeing a child eat sand and not immediately rushing over to have their mouth washed out with distilled water is akin to injecting them with botulism. Where the hell is your sense of responsibility? How are you going to feel when they die on you?
And these are just the obvious disasters awaiting you, we have yet to move onto the more cunningly hidden pitfalls of child rearing. So let’s turn to the imminent danger of speaking the truth.
For a start you need to know that truth is actually a complete fallacy. It is merely your misperception of the world. You see things have changed totally since you were allowed to have kids. Nowadays parents take their responsibilities much more seriously. Well they do if they are kind considerate and thinking people – just like your children and their spouses or partners.
Top tips for Grandparents – Things NOT to share with your children
First, when you try to help out by taking the grandkids off their hands so that they can have a bit of peace and quiet, the most important thing you have to do is lie. Not just about the little things but about everything that happens.
There is absolutely no point in making everyone’s life a misery by sticking to the facts. Instead you should start to think of this as a period of remedial reconstruction for your poor children and their spouses.
More than almost anything else they want to believe that you have somehow improved your parenting skills and can be relied on to save the grandchildren from the terrible world out there.
They also do have a desperate need to get some rest and respite from the demands of their offspring. After all, even prisoners serving a life sentence are allowed to sleep through the night, something that any mother of a child under twelve months will tell you is a fantasy!
This means that they need to believe that their precious offspring have been tended to in exactly the same way that they would have looked after them. Anything else is loaded with terrors and tribulations, so stick to the party line!
That walk in the park was just that. No mention of swings or climbing frames or slides or any of the 1001 new terrifying ways for a child to kill or maim itself. And whatever you do forget the incident between your grandchild and the other boy with the ball.
Neither really got hurt, and as the other boy was also being minded by his grandmother, nobody even got to the stage of exchanging insurance details or names and addresses for the lawyers to start proceedings.
Food – no food apart from approved food sent with the child has been eaten! On no account mention chocolate or any kind of snack that you might have encountered. It does not matter one bit if they laugh and smile about young Joshua or Marigold trying a bit of Daddy’s fiery chilli dip one time, any mention of foreign muck is liable to cause a fit of conniptions.
Sleeping – On no account allow the child to fall asleep on the way back from their trip out. That will totally upset the routine and they will be up all night if you allow the usual routine to be broken. Although they will smile as sweetly as possible I can promise you that there is murder in their hearts at the prospect of yet another night of broken sleep.
I will stop at this point as I too am exhausted by the prospect of just how badly we have been as grandparents over the last few weeks. Please just keep this to yourselves. After all you do want to see those grandkids again, don’t you?