Adult children are generally like people who work at the same office with us. We see them on a regular basis and we might even have lunch with them or go out for drinks after work or even go to their house for dinner. We know things about their personal lives, especially when they are on the phone or crying in the bathroom. But, at the end of the day, we go home and they go home and we have our separate lives.
On the other hand, living with adult children in their own home is more like being in a packed elevator with co-workers and the elevator stalls and we spend many hours occupying the same space. Now we have to start worrying about impinging on someone else’s personal space and how we can fart without anyone knowing it was us. These things can go one of two ways: Either everyone gets totally bonded and becomes friends for life, or the whole things turns into a Lord of the Flies-type experience, gangs are formed, and casualties occur and everyone knows immediately that we are the ones who farted. When the elevator doors finally open, we are either all wrapped in each others’ arms singing Kumbaya, or there is blood on the ceiling.
For the last few weeks, Life in the Boomer Lane has been living with her daughter, son-in-law and her two grandsons in their flat in London. Their older son turned two last month. The younger one is nine days old. Publicly, LBL is here to be Grandma. Privately, LBL is here to redeem herself as Mommy. As Mommy, she had a few characteristics that weren’t compatible with the usual image of Mommyhood: She had an attention span that was shorter than the average toddler. Added to that was the tendency to forget small things like taking extra diapers (or anything else) with her when she went on outings with the babies. LBL also had a measured patience score that was less than zero.
For the most part, LBL has redeemed herself with her grandchildren. And she can hereby share tips for a happy sojourn with one’s adult children and their very young spawn:
1. Do not lose a child or baby. If you feel the need to lose something significant, take the baby to the park and lose a very large diaper bag. Just make sure the diaper bag doesn’t contain priceless baby toys that can’t be replaced.
2. Do not lock everyone out of the flat or apartment or house. If you do feel the need to lock everyone out, make sure your daughter isn’t 9.5 months pregnant and that you and your grandson have shoes on.
3. Do not turn white baby clothes blue. This is marginally acceptable if the baby is a boy or if your child is raising the baby in a gender-neutral environment.
4. Do not bus tables before people are finished eating, even though you are trying to be helpful. This action creates the atmosphere of a 1950s Jewish wedding or Bar Mitzvah, minus all the gifts.
5. Finally, do not bring a large bag of M&Ms, Oreo cookies, and other assorted candy and tell your child it is for “making cupcakes” with your grandchild, then secretly consume most of it before people wake up in the morning. Your child will wonder why you have to buy more items at the store and why you are having a lot of intestinal disorders. If you must do this, make sure your child has an apt with two bathrooms.