Grandparents: Ignore instructions at your own peril

Grandparents: Ignore instructions at your own peril

It was our grandson’s first sleepover at Gee Gee and Papa’s, and the instructions, as spoken by our son-in-law, were explicit: Have him in bed by 7 p.m. or the devil will arrive.

As if! It’s not like we haven’t raised three children of our own. Frankly, the suggestion that we would need instructions at all seemed to ignore the more-than-adequate job we’d done with the tot’s own mother, who seems to have turned out reasonably well. Furthermore, anyone who knows the two of us should be fully aware by now that following explicit instructions has never been our strong suit. We’re creative people for gosh sake. If we aren’t allowed to go cartwheeling off into the weeds, we never accomplish a thing.

We nodded politely at his father’s instructions, then quickly ran off to the train museum with the boy, then on to a real train ride, then home to a fleet of toy trucks on the patio, then off to our garden and a pile of topsoil I’d heaped in the middle so the 2-year-old and his Gee Gee could play while I planted. All throughout the adventure, we primed James with the promise of a spectacular prize at the end of the day.

“If you don’t throw the stones … if you wash your hands … if you eat all your beans … if you put your trucks away ... if you lay still and let us change your diaper … we’ll go downtown for ice cream later.”

We did all the things, and he did all the things. Then before either of the grown-ups had even thought to look at a clock, it was a quarter to seven and the ice-cream run had yet to take place.

Kristin and I debated for only a moment on what was best for the child. Do we adhere to a neophyte father’s regimented rules and bathe the boy, read him some books and put him down for the night with the sun still shining so joyfully in the sky? Or do we instead continue on with Gee Gee and Papa’s excellent “Disneyland” day?

“Come on, James, we’re finally going to get ice cream!”

Anyone could have guessed the answer. The joy was palpable. The atmosphere was delightful. The ice cream was incredible. And all was well with toddler and his enablers as the clock marched rapidly past the previously proclaimed witching hour of 7 p.m.

Back at home by a quarter to eight, Kristin and I shared a secret chuckle at having broken the rules once again as we ran James’ bath, gathered his favorite books and prepped his room for bedtime. That’s when the devil arrived.

It’s wasn’t so much that James’ carriage turned back into a pumpkin as in Cinderella’s fairy tale. No, this was more of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde transformation. Cats fled, dogs cowered and eardrums burst as the maniacal screams of a sugar-fueled, sleep-deprived, awake-beyond-his-bedtime demon notified the world that even the coolest of grandparents need to follow instructions once in a while.

Kristin and John Lorson would love to hear from you. Write Drawing Laughter, P.O. Box 170, Fredericksburg, OH 44627, or email John at

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