The stories told in this blog are generally following a chronological order though every now and then I will drop in something more current. This one is about being a grandparent. I have four grandchildren, a boy and girl, produced by each of our two children. Current ages range from just seven to almost three. Like practically all grandparents, I love these kids and believe they are the cutest, smartest and most promising children ever produced. But they are not perfect.
What follows is an “incident report,” which appears exactly as it was written in an email about a year and a half ago when our daughter’s child, Josie, was three and her brother, Jasper, five. They live in a close-in suburb of Washington (Mt. Rainier), in a house only a stone’s throw from where we lived in 1970 which later became the venue for Hard Living on Clay Street, a book still in print today. Our daughter, Jessica, teaches the lower grades in a DC charter school; and Peter, her husband, works on carbon issues at the Nature Conservancy. The email which follows was in response to Peter’s email to me, which simply said, “What did you mean by the comment, ‘no’ when Jess asked you if the kids had been good?”
In response to the request for an incident report from the Authorities, I submit the following:
1. 3:14 PM Wednesday October 6, 2010.Josie Ellis picked up from “school.”
2. 3:37 PM Jasper Ellis picked up from Joe’s Dance Emporium.
3. 3:42 PM We arrive at home of Ellis family.
4. 3:47 PM I prepare snack consisting of three cheese sticks and juice and three crackers each.
5. 3:48 PM Josie Ellis demands juice and initiates Melt Down, Stage 1, exhibited by screams and jumping.
6. 3:49 PM I ignore Josie, attempt to open one juice box for each child.
7. 3:50 PM Melt Down enters Stage 2 exhibited by enhanced decibel level of screams, collapse on floor and pounding on floor.
8. 3:51 PM Continue furiously trying to open juice box.
9. 3:52 PM Melt Down enters Stage 3 exhibited by blood curdling screams and enhanced pounding.
10. 3:52 PM Juice box opened, handed to Josie.
11. 3:53 Josie throws box across the room and enters Stage 4 Melt Down.
12. 3:53 PM Jasper Ellis enters the room and screams at decibel level exceeding Stage 3 “Give her the juice, all of it, she wants all of it, give her ALL OF IT!”
13. 3:54 Juice—Fifteen juice boxes immediately turned over to Josie Ellis—all the juice except for original opened juice box, which has disappeared.
14. 3:55 Josie stops crying and leaves kitchen, smiling, with fifteen juice boxes still wrapped together.
15. 3:58 I find original juice box and hand it to Jasper who is coloring on dining room table.
16. 4:00 PM I enter family room where Josie is hording juices and apparently trying to hide the various boxes. One box is opened and being consumed.
17. 4:05 PM Initiate block building activity.
18. 4:10 PM I complete first effort—small castle.
19. 4:11 PM Castle destroyed by Josie.
20. 4:15 PM I complete second effort—large castle.
21. 4:16 PM Large castle destroyed by Josie.
22. 4:20 PM Jasper completes elaborate castle and Medieval Village including church tower and mote. Child beams with pride.
23. 4:21 PM Medieval Village destroyed by Josie, kicking the structure across the room, blocks flying in every direction.
24. 4:22 PM Attempted murder of Josie Ellis by Jasper Ellis using body blows and strangulation.
25. 4:24 PM Attempted murder averted. Josie demands “time out” for Jasper. No disciplinary action taken due to determination that retribution was just and called for.
26. 4:25 PM I pick up blocks and lie down on floor in effort to recover. Head rests on stuffed animal.
27. 4:26 PM Stuffed animal forcefully pulled from head rest position by Josie resulting in minor concussion. Josie explains all stuffed animals are hers.
28. 4:28 PM I find another stuffed animal and warn of serious repercussions if animal is again forcefully removed from head rest position.
29. 4:30 PM Surrender declared and suggest “free play” for the rest of the afternoon.
30. 4:30 PM Free play begins with various spontaneous child-initiated activities including home building, block throwing, CD throwing, toy dispersal and wrestling. Children are happy and having fun. Room is a wreck.
31. 5:30 PM Jessica Ellis returns home, asks if children were good.
32. 5:31 PM Respond, “no”.
33. 5:32 PM Depart for home.