Your Reading List

Why Grandma goes grey

Or maybe that was just me screaming at the two-year-old to “stop choking the cat, NOW!”

I didn’t learn about toddlers until I became a grandmother. Well, that’s not exactly true, I guess. You can’t raise four children without any of them going through the toddler stage. And I don’t recall temporarily giving any of our four kids away between the “terrible twos” and the “fearful fours.” It’s just that some seasons of life remain a blur, and having toddlers in the house was definitely one of those seasons.

After completing a 10-day stint doing my grandmotherly duty in a house with three children under age four, I now know why my eyes glazed over way back when I was in that particular stage of child rearing.

It’s called fatigue – 24-hour workday, with mind-numbing menial tasks that never end. And Dr. Spock, bless him, never once prepared young mothers for the fact that lovable wee babies turn into stubborn little tyrants who try to exercise their sovereign wills by hurling their bottles at each other during breakfast, rubbing spaghetti sauce in their blonde curls at lunch and refusing to eat anything for supper except pumpkin pie with mashed potatoes on top because “it looks like ice cream.”

Nor did the good Dr. Spock warn us that entertaining toddlers might mean donning a firefighter’s helmet at 5:30 a. m. while still in my housecoat and slippers, squeezing into a cardboard box “fire truck” and imitating a siren. Or maybe that was just me screaming at the two-year-old to “stop choking the cat, NOW!”

I would despair that these hyperactive, overly imaginative, doggedly determined toddlers would ever turn out to be law-abiding citizens were it not for the fact that they have two older cousins who went through the very same stage years ago. They are now respected, articulate young men holding responsible jobs. I am proud to call them my grandsons.

Their parents, meanwhile, apart from looking older, getting greyer and still suffering posttraumatic stress disorder, claim to have come through relatively unscathed. Maybe in 25 years I’ll be able to say the same, but by then I suppose I’ll be a great-grandmother and my hair will be white, not just grey.

– Alma Barkman writes from Winnipeg

About the author

Alma Barkman's recent articles



Stories from our other publications