My wife and I volunteered to take care of two of our grandchildren last weekend and discovered that there are good reasons to have children when you are young. Jack and Anthony are 3½ and 1½ respectively and, although they are much better behaved than any of our children ever were, they require a fair amount of attention.
I did not remember, for example, the mechanical aptitude, effort, and energy required to simply get a child into a car. I decided to take the boys out to visit their cousins and then go see some newborn lambs at a farm near Scio while my wife was attending a meeting Saturday morning. By the time I changed a diaper, found clothes, dressed the kids, and strapped them into their car seats, I was more exhausted than I am after my usual six-mile morning run. I spent a good part of the afternoon taking a recovery nap on the couch.
Evelyn apparently knew she would be attending a number of weekend meetings when she made arrangements to look after the children. I found out Sunday morning that I would be responsible for getting the little ones ready for church and transporting them to the building while my wife attended another meeting. We repeated Saturday’s process with the addition of taking more care with clothing, hair, and general cleanliness. I guess church members are more concerned about appearances than baby lambs.
Our grandbabies routinely surprise us with their talents, insights, and generally good behavior, despite the occasional lapse. Anthony is getting new teeth and seems determined to try them out on anything close at hand. Unfortunately for Jack, he’s usually closer than anything else that Anthony can sink his teeth into. I fear Anthony could grow up to be a Beaver because we now have teeth marks on several pieces of furniture, in addition to the impressions still visible on Jack’s arm.
I have a better understanding now why the birth rate is declining in many countries around the world. Car seats alone must surely account for some of the reduction; and when you add in bathing, dressing, supervising, disciplining, educating, feeding, health care, and activities, it’s no wonder people are choosing not to have babies. Even if you can afford them, there is still the issue of changing dirty diapers. I like to think I have a strong stomach, but my limits have been tested on the rare occasion when I’m the only one available to change a smelly diaper. It seems small consolation to me that you can wash the stuff off because it frequently seems to find its way onto your hands or clothing.
Grandchildren really are a great blessing in our lives and, as anyone who has spent much time around me can attest, I enjoy telling stories about them. It has been fun to share experiences with Tom and Denise Valentino and hear about their first grandchild who recently arrived. I have also enjoyed meeting a number of grandbabies who have dropped in to visit their grandparents at City Hall. As my children remind me from time to time, it won’t be long before the shoe is on the other foot and I may be depending on children and grandchildren to take care of me.