Dear Grandparenting: We have two grandkids living with us pretty much 24/365. Their father’s job in the petroleum industry requires him to spend much of the year in the Middle East. (Our daughter is their mother. She died in a car accident going on two years ago now.) We make it work and provide them with lots of love. They are 10 and 13 and never give us any trouble.
We enjoy stepping out at night to boogie or take in a movie when the mood strikes. Sometimes that means getting home rather late. We always have someone in the house with our grandkids. I trust them and all that but I’m also a serious worrywart.
Lately they’ve started to question us about the need for a babysitter. My husband thinks it’s high time someone asked that question. He says our grandkids are perfectly capable of being home alone all by themselves. He says we are “infantilizing” them as if they are two little babies. What is your thinking about when’s the right time? Susie Q, Marshall, Michigan
Dear Susie Q: You and your husband obviously are the best judges of their readiness, and the very fact that you’ve asked our opinion suggests that the time has likely come. We’ll put it another way: If they weren’t ready, you’d know it.
We understand that it’s one thing to talk about leaving your grandchildren home alone and quite another to act on it. But since past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, we don’t anticipate problems. Any trouble is more likely to come later as your grandchildren come of age and their hormones kick in. That’s when their risky conduct looms larger.
Most grandchildren relish their first taste of unsupervised independence as something they’ve earned. Many grandparents can’t help second-guessing themselves. At any rate, be sure to teach grandchildren how to handle situations like strangers knocking on the door or power outages. Give them a friend’s number to call if you’re unavailable. Don’t be shy about coming home early or popping in unannounced. You may elect to trust your grandchildren until they prove otherwise. For our peace of mind, we prefer to see for ourselves.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Ronnie Owens, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, was driving grandson Brad, 12, back from summer camp when they saw a road sign that read “Moose Crossing.”
Brad begged his grandfather to stop the car. “Let’s wait here for a moose, Grandpa! Don’t you want to see one?”
Ronnie wanted to keep going. “Moose are very shy creatures and pretty nasty, too,” he said. “You stand a better chance of seeing the Abominable Snowman.”
“OK, that’s fine with me,” said Brad. “We don’t have any of those where I live either.”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.