During the last ten years I’ve learned a new set of rules. They’re called the Grandparent Rules. And recently I saw one of those rules in action.
A couple of weeks ago, I was playing golf with the old guys, of which I am now officially one. The group in front of my foursome on the golf course was playing slow. Some might would say methodical. No, they were slow. As we finally neared the end of the round, I noticed one of the guys in our foursome starting to get antsy. The he got a phone call.
“I know, I know,” he said to the person on the phone. “I’ll be there by 2:30.”
When he got off the phone, I laughed, “Which one do you have to pick up”
“Holden,” he answered. We finished our round a couple of holes later, and he quickly took off to his truck to go pick up his grandson from school.
This is an important Grandparent Rule. The grandparent taxi is not to be late in picking up or dropping off the grandchild to school, ball practice, etc. By the way, the converse of this rule does not apply. The timeframe where the grandchild is picked up or dropped off at the grandparent’s house is not that important.
There are other Grandparent Rules that I’ve learned. One is, it’s easier if you go ahead and give in to the grandkids. They are going to wear you down anyway. Another Grandparent Rule that goes along with it: “Because I said so” usually doesn’t work with the grandkids. But it might give you time to think of some other way out of the situation.
There is one Grandparent Rule that is very important. You learn this one early in your training: Be careful not to say you are going to do something for them that you are not sure you are going to be able to do. Don’t commit to taking them to the ballgame or movie too early. A mention of getting that favorite toy for them in passing becomes a commitment.
By the way, the grandkids don’t hear the same way we do. Saying, “If I don’t have to work,” or “I’ll try,” becomes a guarantee in their little ears. They know it’s going to happen. So if things don’t work out, you can expect to hear a “But you promised!” and probably some more expressive actions of disappointment.
But I think that’s not only true of kids, but also adults. When someone, who you think is in a position to help you, says they’re going to help you, you expect them to do so. When they fail to do so, frustration sets in. Being adults, we don’t whine “But you promised!” And we don’t have a temper tantrum. (Well, at least most of the time.) It may take time, but the frustration begins to exhibit itself in other ways.
Maybe that somewhat explains what is going on in our culture today, especially in politics. For years, politicians have told middle class voters that they were on their side. The reality has been different. The rich have been getting richer, while middle class income has been stagnant. Bill Clinton described them, when talking about Obamacare recently, as “the people who are out there busting it, sometimes 60 hours a week, wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half.” No wonder they are frustrated with the establishment politicians. No wonder many are supporting the presidential candidate, Donald Trump, even with his many flaws, who says he is going to blow the system up.
And maybe that explains some of the anger and frustration being shown in the recent protests by African-Americans. Eight years ago, Barak Obama was elected president under the promise of “Hope and Change.” But there hasn’t been much positive change, especially economically, for that community, and for all of us, during the past eight years. You see, we all have our own individual vision of the Great American Dream. For us, our kids, and our grandkids. Politicians know that, and will use it to get our vote.
But promises not kept can lead to frustration and anger. You’ll know that real soon from the grandkids. For us adults, it may be awhile before it shows. Unlike many politicians, we grandparents are doing the best we can to try to keep our promises, and not make promises we can’t keep. The politicians are doing the best they can to get your vote.
Back to one final Grandparent Rule: Enjoy the grandkids while you can, because they’re growing up real fast.
Mac McPhail, raised in Sampson County, lives in Clinton and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org