'I babysat my grandkids for a few hours, and left exhausted'

"How did I cope with my own tribe?"

Three of my grandsons are Jack, aged 5, William, aged 4 and Beau, aged 3. Last Saturday morning I was on ‘small boy duty’ as their mother was going off on a pre-Christmas shopping trip.

I arrived at 6.30am to see their mother heading off. The boys were asleep and didn’t appear until 7.15.

Four-year-old William had forgotten his mother would be away. He went into his “I want my mum” routine, which occupied him until he decided on having breakfast. Small boys are good at whinging for their mothers.

Breakfast was a circus of its own. Jack, 5, said he’d like pancakes and got out the mini pancake cooker. I’d never seen one before. I hunted around in the pantry and found some pancake mix – you know the sort, add water, and away you go. I asked myself, how hard can this be?

I poured the pancake mix onto the cooker.  The first few tries resulted in pancake mix going everywhere but, hey, I was learning. Then I had to figure out how to turn them over, easier said than done.

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I looked at the small round mini pancakes cooking quietly and discovered that when I went to turn them, they ceased being the beautifully rounded design they were intended to be and instead had become piles of cooked dough.

Jack said he was hungry and could eat a thousand. Oh great!

Eventually, I had enough made that looked somewhat like pancakes, and after he had drowned them in maple syrup, he went away to eat them while watching a DVD.

Beau, 3, decided he wanted pancakes too. He is not as particular as his two brothers and didn’t care what shape they are supposed to be or what shape Grandad served them up as.

Then Will said he wanted Nutri-Grain. A search of the pantry resulted in no Nutri-Grain being found, so he decided on Vegemite toast. I cut the toast up as I thought he’d like, only to be told he wanted big squares. After making him another piece, he told me he wanted triangle squares.

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I made a mental note to tell his mother to give Will geometry lessons next week.

In the meantime, Beau, who is a garbage guts, spies the toast and decides he wants toast too. He doesn’t care what shape it comes in, so that was an easy fix.

After a while, I went to see how they were going. I discover that Jack has only eaten a few of his pancakes and William had eaten all his toast and now wanted some apple. Of course, Beau wanted an apple as well.

The time was approaching when the boy’s father would arrive to collect them. So, I set to cleaning the kitchen, when I heard Jack call “Grandad, Grandad!”

Jack is on the toilet, and Beau, who for reasons unknown, is watching his brother. Jack decides to get off the toilet to get a face washer to clean his bottom.

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On the way, he drops some of what should be in the toilet on the bathroom mat; Beau steps in it and starts walking it around the bathroom mat.

So, I arrive to discover one boy with a dirty bottom and one boy with a dirty foot.

I sit Beau on the bathroom sink to clean his foot, while Jack is trying VERY unsuccessfully to clean himself.

I look at Jack and say, you better get in the shower and get cleaned up. I send the now-cleaned Beau out of the bathroom, run the shower for Jack, and get him under it. Then followed by Beau. I pick up the bath mat and take it outside.

I grab the hose and start cleaning the mat, then hang it on the clothes line, turn up the water pressure and wash it down. All the while I am careful not to wet Beau, who is more interested in Jack’s poo than he should be.

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I leave the mat to dry on the line, and I take Beau inside. I get Jack out of the shower and send him to get dressed, saying his dad will be here any minute.

The boys waiting for their father to arrive, decide to engage Grandad in a spirited wrestle, having watched the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie and of course, in the push, shove and tickle of the encounter, William gets bumped on the nose and is soon in tears.

Just as Will is about to descend into a state of hysteria, his dad arrives. I breathe a sigh relief.

I see them off wondering how it was that at one stage of my life, I too had a tribe of small children, and how did I cope? But, as a good friend has since said to me, it’s why the rearing of children is left to much younger people than us.

Have you any funny experiences looking after small grandchildren?