OK, you’re the grandparent. You fill your grandkids with love and joy and, when their parents aren’t looking, hundreds of chocolate chip cookies. However, as a grandparent you have certain limits and boundaries (I guess).

Sienna is 2 years old and is extremely smart. She can put together a 24-piece puzzle by herself, which is amazing. I actually don’t know what is amazing at that age, and “by herself” means that I am kind of helping, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Anyway, my daughter and son-in-law are working, so to help out I sometimes pick up Sienna from her preschool. I noticed that Sienna (did I mention she could put together a 48-piece puzzle?) was often playing by herself.

I talked to her teacher about this, and she said, “Let her go at her own pace, Graaandpa.”

It was the way she said “Graaandpa” that really bothered me. Although the teacher was smiling, her patronizing tone said, “You’re not the parent, and I’m the teacher, and I know what I’m doing, so stay out of this, you interfering old doddering fool.”

OK, I may have been reading too much into the word “Graaandpa,” but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

I then did what any mature grandpa would do — I tattletaled on the teacher to my daughter Ann. Unfortunately, Ann told me that the teacher knew what she was doing, and I should stay out of it.

I then did what any sane grandparent would do. I went on the internet. I found a few articles that said when kids are 2 years old, they often engage in parallel play. This is where they sit near each other but they play by themselves. Playing by themselves is normal.

All right, but there are a couple of things to be taken into consideration. First of all, Sienna is very advanced (she can do a 96-piece puzzle). And second, although Sienna was sitting near the other kids, I didn’t think she was quite close enough.

And so I did what any non-interfering, boundary-observing grandparent would do — when nobody was looking, I picked Sienna up and put her 6 inches away from the other kids. OK, 3 inches.

I did this several times. I was like a ninja warrior using the stealth method of disguise to hide my movements. OK, my disguise was sometimes wearing a cap, but it worked and I wasn’t noticed.

I did this for about a week, and then my son-in-law’s work schedule changed and he picked up Sienna from preschool.

About a month later I started picking up Sienna again, and I quickly noticed that all the kids, including Sienna, were happily playing right next to each other (parallel play).

The teacher then came up to me and, with her crocodile smile (I may be overreacting), said, “See, Graaandpa, everything turned out OK because we let Sienna go at her own pace.”

I’m not sure who did the right thing — maybe it’s Sienna’s teacher and her “don’t interfere” policy, or maybe it was me and my stealth moves. And since I’m not sure, I’m going to have to say that I was right.

Oh, and did I mention that Sienna can put together a 400-piece puzzle?


Sy Rosen has written for many TV shows, including The Bob Newhart Show, Taxi, M.A.S.H., Maude, The Jeffersons, Rhoda, Frasier, Northern Exposure, and The Wonder Years. He now spends much of his time telling jokes to his grandkids and trying to convince his wife that he’s funny.

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