Free Range Parenting

For over five years, I posted every day. Last year I tried every other day, then once a week. I would vow to Blog once a month but my rules always break. Years ago I agreed to babysit my granddaughter Zofia for her working parents on the condition that no playdates would occur in my home. After being maneuvered into a steady stream of playdates, my wife Mollie put my foot down and insisted on at least banning sleepovers for classmates. Exceptions crept in for emergencies like pouting. A couple weeks ago we hosted Zofia and another fifth grader overnight. They set an alarm for 4am “to see the sunrise.” While waiting for the mythical winter sun in Seattle, they took turns zipping each other into our biggest suitcase and pushing it down the stairs. I told them it was not a good idea, so I was shocked when Mollie discovered they kept doing it after I went back to bed. I explained that the girls insulated their torture chamber with a sleeping bag and pillows but Mollie just stared at me with a familiar look that silently screamed (profanity deleted): “I am married to a complete idiot!”

Amazingly, I have been accused of being a helicopter parent and grandparent, although I have always delegated all hovering to Mollie. Last November, I babysat Zofia (and a different classmate) for my daughter-in-law Asia in their 1200 square foot condominium. Asia returned after a few hours but interrupted my walk home with an angry phone call demanding (profanity deleted): “How dare you move my furniture around?” I wondered if she had put tape on the legs of her living room chair to catch me using her desk while passing the time on my phone. So I responded defiantly, “What furniture?” She began ranting at me, yelling that I was playing dumb and gaslighting her. So I returned to the condo and found that two skinny little girls had rearranged all Zofia’s heavy bedroom furniture (bed, bookcase, dresser, and desk). My helicopter has finally crashed into a smoldering pyre of gross negligence. Free babysitters are by definition worth nothing but at least Asia loves the rearranged furniture now that she realizes I had no part in the redecorating.

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59 thoughts on “Free Range Parenting

  1. Oh, how I have missed this tongue-in cheek humor that is so Geoff! Loved this post. Too many good parts to single out, but “Mollie putting my foot down”, “mythical winter sun in Seattle”, and “emergencies like pouting” are classic Stamper humor. Hope you and the family are all well!

    Liked by 7 people

      1. hahaha. Truth. I have enjoyed bits of nostalgia with my grandkids. I found a large hill near the local park. And I cut up old cardboard boxes like we did as kids to use as sleds. They love it and I can handle THAT ride. lol. I guess it would be a muddy mess in Washington, and you would go to far, but summer is coming . Have a nice week.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I feel for you, Geoff. Anything free in this world is literally taken for granted and the yelling usually comes from the wrong side. I hope you get back to blogging more. We appreciate you and won’t yell. Just stay away from suitcases. Thanks for the words. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Good to see you back around the blogosphere. Perhaps we can get Mollie to put your foot down about getting you to blog more often. Yes, free is a good price. It’s how much we pay to read your blog and we see how you take care of us, your adoring fans.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. I echo the sentiment of being glad to have you back in the blogosphere! Where else would I be able to read “Exceptions crept in for emergencies like pouting.” ๐Ÿ˜€

      And, hey, Herb, some of the best things in life are free ๐Ÿ˜€

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Haha, I guess the two (profanity deleted) are having the exact effect that you intended. It is better than using a * to symbolize the missing word, I guess. I have witnessed helicopter parents who would buy grocery each weekend, drive fifty miles to their son’s campus, and clean the son’s dorm, cook, and stuff his refrigerator with food, much to the son’s embarrassment.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Just this morning I was thrown off balance when Zofia asked me what I did all day while she was in school. Caught off guard, I could not even make up some good stuff before she exited the car. Wish I had thought to tell her how I am fighting global warming.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. If only someone we knew was a showrunner, we could have become rich as a reality show when the seven of us in three generations all lived together from 2013-2018. Asia and my wife still don’t speak to each other even though two of Asia’s children still live with us.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I taught some kids (18+) who had helicopter parents who were so helicopterish that they dropped their (expletive deleted) kids from classes the kids had signed up and which were requirements! One came begging to me to reinstate his kid, but I couldn’t. My class had filled in the meantime. The parent said, “That’s not fair.” The dean reinstated the kid. Great kid; hated his dad. Your DIL Asia makes me with I’d had a daughter. I could’ve named her Antarctica.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Haha, to so much of this. I especially like getting up at 4:00 a.m. to see the “mythical sun.” I’m surprised they needed an alarm and actually went to sleep. By the way, Seattle people must defy the laws of nature if they see the sun at that time of day in January.

    Zofia has a bright future as a creative storyteller in her teenage years. After she hits middle school, I’d resign from your current position. Perhaps you need to have a sleepover with one of your buddies and make Zofia listen to your war stories until 4:00 a.m., when you can enjoy the rising sun together. ๐Ÿ˜Š

    Liked by 3 people

  7. We now have a mythical winter sun in Philadelphia as well, and I can assure I don’t set my alarm for 4AM in the hopes it will appear anytime soon. Getting 60% right on a math test sounds like one of my past, current, and even future results, but I still know that means I got more than half correct…so there is still hope for me too.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. “Staffing shortages” reduced the number of available spots for after school ignoring of children behaving badly where my grandkids attend school, so I got conscripted. Every now and then I get thrown under the bus for mentioning to the children that they need to stop living like effing junk yard dogs and pick up their effing excrement so I don’t have to run over mid-day and let their dog out because Mom couldn’t find his leash to drop him off at doggie day care as it was buried under a pile of effing Pokรฉmon cards somebody should have effing picked up. Along with the shoes that won’t be found in time for volleyball or soccer, so get off your effing mind pudding devices and clean this excrement up. No, Ava, no Grant, effing ALL of it, including the three day old chocolate cake experiment hiding behind the couch.
    “Poppa sure is grouchy.” And if Asia wants to bitch and doesn’t want to raise children they should sew her (deleted) shut and put her kids up for rent to infertile wannabe helicopter parents to put them off the notion of procreation.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Truth, like justice and a few of the other โ€œbigโ€ words are often cleverly disguised in humor and innuendo. The funniest and most telling are the tiny bits that drop between between the anecdotes. Like your wife and DIL still arenโ€™t speaking.

        Liked by 2 people

  9. Wait, 5th graders set alarm 4am in the morning just to see the sunrise? I have plenty of time my baby to be a 5th grader, but your story made me scared๐Ÿ˜‚ I thought sleepovers are for secretly eating sweet treats while parents are not looking, talk forever but passing out around 4am, and finally wake up 10am asking where’s our pancakes…Also I guess I have to start building up my body just to be ready for unscheduled furniture move๐Ÿคฃ

    Liked by 3 people

  10. It sounds like you have had your fair share of challenges as a parent and grandparent. Despite your best efforts to set boundaries and stick to them, it seems like exceptions always creep in. It’s also interesting to see how miscommunications and misunderstandings can arise even with the best intentions. However, it’s clear that you have a great love and dedication for your family, and that’s what matters most in the end. Keep on striving to be the best parent and grandparent you can be!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I like to think of grandchildren as a market for my bottomless fountain of wisdom. But maybe that’s because I don’t actually have any yet. I don’t have any grandchildren either.

    If Asia doesn’t appreciate the great deal she has in you, it’s time to double your rates. Oh, wait . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  12. My mother visited often when I was between husbands. Without a man to point out my questionable decorating skills, she finally took it upon herself to rearrange my furniture while I was at work one day. She was eighty something at the time. I still waffle between being impressed and being annoyed over it.

    Liked by 1 person

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