Being the grandma on a road trip is different from other roles. On the one hand, I’m less responsible for things. I’m keeping in the background and being agreeable, I’m sharing the cost and the care of the children, but I don’t tell anyone what to do or make any plans. When I feel like going for a walk I can, and if I feel like sitting back and reading and knitting, I can do that, too.

On the other hand, I’m doing most of the cooking and cleaning up and much of the child care. I’m the one who stays with the kids while their parents go out and also the one who kindly and firmly makes the children help out.

They’re my DIL’s children, and they are smart and good hearted. They haven’t been brought up as my children were, of course, and that really isn’t any of my business, but my son would like to help them discover the joys of a slightly more disciplined life. “In our family,” #1 son said to me at one point when we were alone, “we don’t complain.” These children complain very freely, though I hadn’t put my finger on it before #1 son articulated it. They’re not accustomed to doing for themselves, either. I’m used to saying, “Will you set the table?” or “Please pick up your toys” and having children comply immediately. These kids don’t have that understanding. They feel free to ignore requests or instructions even from their mother.

I don’t want to be the mean grandmother, but I’m also not willing to wait upon a couple of kids during my vacation. We’re working it out and I think all will be well.

It’s a lot of fun to travel with children. We see things through their eyes and get to experience the world in newness. With any luck, #1 Son and DIL will get more free time than they would if I weren’t on the trip, I’ll get to know the kids better, and we’ll all have a great time.