TWENTY-EIGHT

IT IS SLEEP-IN SATURDAY.  In our house that means no one gets out of bed before six a.m.  If only that were true.  Our kids aren't great sleepers, and neither am I.  Some nights between cats and humans, our apartment seems like a busy mall on a Saturday.  People need water, cats need to be let out, there's a weird shadow in the corner of a room.  I think that putting kids to bed should count as some kind of rigorous exercise.  Can the moms in the house give me an amen?  

I had lunch with my parents which was fun.  My parents are pretty cool and always have been.  We were the house with a pool when I was a kid, so everyone hung around our house - despite it being far out in the country.  My dad built a foosball table for us, and we also had a pretty nice ping-pong table too.  Our house was cool.

I live in the same town as both my parents and my in-laws and until just a few years ago, my grandparents too.  I am pretty fortunate family-wise.  Most of my friends grandparents passed away while we were in elementary school.  I grew up with three of my grandparents around (my Dad's dad was sort of out of the picture).  And all three of them lived to be 93.  That's pretty amazing.

I think about some of my friends who lost their parents when they were young, and now are trying to navigate adulthood without them.  You need your parents when you are a kid to stay alive -- they keep you warm, safe and fed, but you really need your parents when you are grown.  I mean, who else can you ask, "Wait, so I pay taxes every year?"  I remember when I was twenty-two, and had my first teaching job.  I was living in a different town than my parents, and had worked my taxes out on that little worksheet.  I ran through the whole set of instructions four times before I called my dad.  "Hey, I must've done this wrong because it says I have to pay them money.  Can that happen?"  Any other human would've laughed at me, and maybe he did after we hung up, but at the time he patiently explained that it was most definitely a possibility.  Then he helped me figure out a payment plan that I could live with, how to set it up with the IRS, and then we unscrambled my filing mistakes that had made it happen.  Only a dad would do that.

All of my parents, regular and by marriage take great care of my kids, too.  My kids have had only two outside-family babysitters.  The Girl who turns 11 next week, keeps asking for a phone.  "Why?' I always respond.  "You are either with Daddy and Me, or your grandparents.  Who do you need to call?"  

When I was a kid, my mom was a health nut.  We couldn't have sugar.  She was really hard core about it, too.  We couldn't have ketchup because it had too much sugar.  No juice. No cookies.  She bought us cereal at the health food stores.  I cannot tell you how much I hate the smell of the vitamin aisle at the Golden Carrot!  Man, I spent 1/2 my life there!  Sometimes, The Husband and I will be sitting around talking and he'll say say something like, "So, anyway, when I was nine, my brother and I were eating our bowl of Apple Jacks and . . ."  I'll interrupt him.  "What are Apple Jacks?"  He'll get this weird look on his face, shake his head, grab his coat and say, "I'll be right back."  He'll return with a box of cereal that I've never had before.  I've got this gap in my exposure to sugar.  So imagine my shock when my Mom immediately begins to feed my kids every type of sugar in the world.  I remember my shock when the same woman who lectured me about the evils of processed sugar, held my nine month old baby girl in her arms and let her lick whip cream off her finger.  Grandparents.

--Jen