CAPITULATION: The action of surrendering or ceasing to resist an opponent or demand.
The kids are not inordinately bad. The issue is age – they are three and two. Humans of this age cannot be reasoned with. They are not easily intimidated and they have no fear of grandparents. They can, however, be bribed, which is a tactic we use often.
My grandson is a charmer who uses polite manners and disarming facial gestures to convince adults he is harmless. He will cock his head and squint an eye when trying to make a point, but he also is capable of delivering a punch to the groin, or a kick to the groin when picked up. I am convinced these are unintentional defense mechanisms owing to his size… at least I hope they are unintentional. His tantrums can be fierce and he will drop his drawers and pee anywhere and everywhere, a behavior that horrifies his granddad but is, apparently, amusing to others.
My granddaughter, the Future Miss Mississippi, is adorable in a way that stops total strangers. Huge blue eyes, dimples, incandescent grin… she should be on product packaging except that she is a manipulative little she-devil who is totally contrary. You say “up,” she says “down;” you say “please,” she says “no;” you say “put down that antique vase!” and she runs with it like a halfback. She eats normal food once a week; at every other meal simply says “I don’t want that” unless it is a popsicle or cookie. Given that she is not my daughter, I’m perfectly willing to feed her a steady diet of sugar, but the aftermath is too horrifying to contemplate.
The first day of their visits are always wonderful. We play games, swim, go to the park, and catch fireflies in the evening. By day three the adults are playing zone defense, trying to protect property and lives, and by “lives” I mean our dog and the koi in our backyard pond. Our schnauzer, Dodger, is the Gandhi of dogs; non-violent, quiet and he loves everyone. After three days of being chased, hugged, kissed and pinched he is forced into hiding and will growl when confronted.
I love my grandchildren. They are a gift from God, uniquely and wonderfully made. They are smart, incredibly cute and they genuinely love their grandparents, which is evident when they see us. But their love comes with a price. The price is sanity, fatigue and frustration. I see the thousand-yard stare in my wife’s eyes after they leave. I see the wreckage of our home. I feel the ache in my back and groin. The grandkids have come and gone and once again have won the battle. We have capitulated.