In case of emergency, count me out.
My grandson underwent a tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy this week. Even though I have been his primary caregiver for over one year, my role was secondary that long day in the hospital. I wasn’t invited into the prep room; I didn’t get a yellow gown and a hairnet; I wasn’t awarded a special bracelet. The doctors didn’t confer with me pre-, during, or post-op. When it comes to doctors and nurses and hospitals, grandparents are more of a bother than a comfort.
Even though so many of us grandparents are the primary caregivers for our grandchildren, if we’re not the legal guardians during those times of emergency—we don’t count. You may be the one who cooled his high fever during those endless bouts of throat and ear infections, you probably shuffled him to the pediatrician and specialist, too. But your bedside manners don’t matter at the hospital.
For my grandson’s surgery, his mother and father were the ones awarded special status. The grandparents got to hold the diaper bag and the story books. The grandparents made the coffee runs and provided meals whenever the parents came from behind the special doors where we were not permitted.
And so it should be. No matter what happens with his parents during his formative years, when he looks back on his life stories, he will remember that his Mom and Dad were with him at this important time in his life: three years old, scared, in a hospital.
As for us grandparents, we don’t do this for the recognition, but rather, because we recognize a need. We are filling in for a time. Let the parents step up in these special moments and just hope they’ll realize what a responsibility and honor and gift it is to have children.
My special moment came anyway later that afternoon. In recovery, the only thing my grandson requested was his Abi. Me.