- Lori Carol Maloy
Why Old Folks Shouldn’t Birth or Raise Children: or am I the only one without the energy?
m always up for a trip of any kind. Take me out to eat, to the movies, a cruise (dream on during Covid), or a weekend at a hotel for my grand-kid’s little league play-offs, and I’m usually game. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a grandmother and enjoy all the perks that go with it, like stuffing as much candy down their throats as I can and sending them home with more energy than the roadrunner brings pure joy. Even when mom and dad have to bail at the last minute, I’m usually up for brownie points so the show can go on, but there is a reason old people shouldn’t give birth and are too feeble to handle high energy kids. Well, maybe that just applies to me. You decide.
Like I said, I’m always up for a trip (especially after the lock-down and quarantine), and I can’t say no to my daughter. So, filling in so the grand-kids could make their play-off game in Apopka, Florida was right up my alley. A hotel with a pool, a drive-thru Chick-fil-A close by, and snagging as much hotel soap as the maid could leave in the room seemed like a great idea at the time. I didn’t account for solar-flare temperatures shooting off the sun at 100 million degrees kelvin, a torrential downpour that would make an Indonesian tsunami look like an afternoon light rain, and over-tired children who turn into the hulk after sundown.
Born and raised in the 60’s and 70’s, my idea of a good road trip was coloring, Barbie dolls, and listening to my favorite cassette while hanging out in the back window of my parent’s over-sized Chevy. But things have changed, and not just a little. Being the good grandma I do try to be, I swung by the library and nabbed a couple books on CD, filled a bag with yummy treats (apparently yummy to only old people), and threw in their favorite ninja turtle giant pillows, but these small love tokens were not nearly enough. I found out that withdrawals from something called an iPad is a real disorder.
Within twenty minutes on the road my voice had changed to something akin to a demon, and the blood vessels in my neck had grown to proportions I had not known was physically possible. I swore I would never utilize the swing and hit method I remember as a child, thus the reason for hanging out against the back window, but I tried to play it safe and pulled over a few times. Apparently, threatening to call dad has to have a follow through in order to be effective, and it is true, it’s all fun and games until someone starts screaming.
We did make it to the field and although I acquired a sunburn within twenty-seconds of ejecting myself from the vehicle, the open air was a relief. I took this opportunity to take several deep breaths until my veins were no longer visible. After all, I had to sit with other grandparents and parents at the field in a few minutes and had to be presentable. Not sure if I mentioned how hot it was, but I have no words. The youngest was so bored and nothing I could do would make up for this injustice. Eventually, he chose to take a 90-minute nap on top of me, but the sacrifice for silence was worth the torture (he’s six).
Planning to gain back my title of good grandma after the horrifying car ride, I decided to join the other team members and parents after the game at a local restaurant. I was exhausted already, but I tried to fake it. Like I said, I’m old. I wear out easy. Staying up late is hitting the sack by eight-thirty and partying down by reading till nine. Life is simple when you’re aged. Little things are such a joy, like having to make only three trips to the restroom during the night instead of five. Getting your entire green smoothie swallowed by 6pm, and not having your milk spoil in the fridge before you get a chance to woof it all down.
Okay, back to my story. I did not know half the people at my table, and was afraid to ask. When the food came I went in search of my grandchildren, who were in a swarm around the pool table with the other kids. Suddenly, I found myself disciplining another child before I realized he was not mine. I didn’t even recognize who he was or why I was talking to him about his downed sprite. Humiliated, I sat my two grand-kids down with their meals and decided to go to the restroom to do more breathing hoping oxygen would re-circulate through my brain. Then I mistakenly wandered into the men’s room. Aghast at the sight of urinals, I raced from the room in hopes this had been a covert operation and tried to recover in one of the women’s stalls. More deep breathing commenced, and that wasn’t pleasant due to the odor all around m e. I lost my sweater on the trip from the car to the restaurant, and made many other goober moves that I won’t even bother to share.
Hoping for redemption, I took the kids to the pool so they could swim with their teammates after checking into the hotel. So many children, so much noise … and, why do they seem like they are gaining momentum when it’s now nearly eleven?
Being aged is supposed to come with wisdom, but I think that’s a trick to make us want to age in hopes that they’ll be perks when we get there. But trust me, there are no perks besides a little extra creativity in the brain. Back to my story. Before someone lost an eye I decided it was time for bed and despite the viewable horror on my grandson’s face, we were the first ones to leave the pool area. My plan was to get to the room as fast as possible, get the kids in any kind of sleepwear they would agree to, and get the lights off. I knew from prior experience with these tots that once lights were out something happens in their brain and their movement ceases. It’s like darkness unplugs them and a force from beyond shuts them down. Although I was dead-dog tired, I laid there in the darkness wide awake for 30 minutes basking in the stillness and watched the digital clock strike midnight while soaking the silence in for fear that it would never come again.
Morning came, and with it another game. I had plans to take the kids to the pool at 8am, but being elderly, by morning I had forgotten the plan. At 7am, hoping for more solitude, I donned my mask and tiptoed out of the room. I raced to the lobby to get my grab and go breakfast, but when I re-entered the room, the children awoke at the sound of the thick, clicking door. When will someone invent a silent closing hotel room door? I have pondered this for years, and I know I will die with this life-changing question begging for an answer.
Time was against me. With my memory gone, all I knew was that I had to be at the field by eleven. This became a task all on its own due to excessive activity before our exit. I believe the youngest was born at a circus and transported into our family. He jumps, twirls, rolls, and bobbles about without ceasing … unless, of course, the lights are out. Burning off the excess sugar from last night’s sprite, (never again), he finally made it into his seat-belt and off we went.
At the field, I sat under my umbrella in the solar flare heat and prayed for a tsunami so I could just go back to my old lady house, on my quiet little street, and sip some old lady tea or something. I was hot, weak, tired, and weary. Ready for my boring home with my lazy dog who never moves. And then it came, seemingly without warning. The rain poured as though the heavens opened up and released a decade of fury. Did God feel so sorry for me that when I prayed for the tsunami, he decided to grant my request? Apparently so. Amidst crying children, we forfeited the game. Defeated and drenched, we made our way back to our vehicles and headed home.
Once home, I realized for the first time that I am truly aged. I cannot go back and relive my youth with my grandchildren. I have concluded that who I was is not who I have become after so many years of life. I ponder thoughts, such as, “Have I become the old lady who hides behind the hedges yelling at the passing children while telling them to hush, be quiet, and then yell out, don’t play or laugh or sing? I pray not.
But what I do now know is that the aged should not solo travel with the grandchildren unless the parents can attend. And if I must be alone on the road with these children before they turn into adults, I need additional medication from my doctor that provide a clear head, stamina and energy. I don’t recall my own children being so exhausting on the road, but then again, that was years ago, who can remember? Without question, God knew what he was doing when he dictated that the elderly should not give birth and raise children. I’ve decided not to share any more candy with the children before they go back home to mom and dad. Empathy within me is growing and I have realized that green children after dark are the scariest hulks ever.